The Transition

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As we are nearing to the point that we have only dreamed about (meeting our daughter and bringing her home) she has a mountain to conquer as she transitions. Here is a word picture describing the confusion, the conflict, and the reason for the lack of trust built deep in the souls of many orphans.

IMAGINE FOR A MOMENT:
You have met the person you’ve dreamed about all your life. He has every quality that you desire in a spouse. You plan for the wedding, enjoying every free moment with your finance. You love his touch, his smell, the way he looks into your eyes. For the first time in your life, you understand what is meant by “soul mate,” for this person understands you in a way that no one else does. Your heart beats in rhythm with his. Your emotions are intimately tied to his every joy, his every sorrow.

The wedding comes. It is a happy celebration, but the best part is that you are finally the wife of this wonderful man. You fall asleep that night, exhausted from the day’s events, but relaxed and joyful in the knowledge that you are next to the person who loves you more than anyone in the world?the person who will be with you for the rest of your life.

The next morning you wake up, nestled in your partner’s arms. You open your eyes and immediately look for his face.

But IT’S NOT HIM! You are in the arms of another man. You recoil in horror. Who is this man? Where is your beloved?

You ask questions of the new man, but it quickly becomes apparent that he doesn’t understand you. You search every room in the house, calling and calling for your husband. The new guy follows you around, trying to hug you, pat you on the back,…even trying to stroke your arm, acting like everything is okay.

But you know that nothing is okay. Your beloved is gone. Where is he? Will he return? When? What has happened to him?

Weeks pass. You cry and cry over the loss of your beloved. Sometimes you ache silently, in shock over what has happened. The new guy tries to comfort you. You appreciate his attempts, but he doesn’t speak your language-either verbally or emotionally. He doesn’t seem to realize the terrible thing that has happened…that your sweetheart is gone.

You find it difficult to sleep. The new guy tries to comfort you at bedtime with soft words and gentle touches, but you avoid him, preferring to sleep alone, away from him and any intimate words or contact.

Months later, you still ache for your beloved, but gradually you are learning to trust this new guy. He’s finally learned that you like your coffee black, not doctored up with cream and sugar. Although you still don’t understand his bedtime songs, you like the lilt of his voice and take some comfort in it.

More time passes. One morning, you wake up to find a full suitcase sitting next to the front door. You try to ask him about it, but he just takes you by the hand and leads you to the car. You drive and drive and drive. Nothing is familiar. Where are you? Where is he taking you?

You pull up to a large building. He leads you to an elevator and up to a room filled with people. Many are crying. Some are ecstatic with joy. You are confused. And worried.

The man leads you over to the corner. Another man opens his arms and sweeps you up in an embrace. He rubs your back and kisses your cheeks, obviously thrilled to see you.

You are anything but thrilled to see him. Who in the world is he? Where is your beloved? You reach for the man who brought you, but he just smiles (although he seems to be tearing up, which concerns you), pats you on the back, and puts your hand in the hands of the new guy. The new guy picks up your suitcase and leads you to the door. The familiar face starts openly crying, waving and waving as the elevator doors close on you and the new guy.

The new guy drives you to an airport and you follow him, not knowing what else to do. Sometimes you cry, but then the new guy tries to make you smile, so you grin back, wanting to “get along.” You board a plane. The flight is long. You sleep a lot, wanting to mentally escape from the situation.

Hours later, the plane touches down. The new guy is very excited and leads you into the airport where dozens of people are there to greet you. Light bulbs flash as your photo is taken again and again. The new guy takes you to another guy who hugs you. Who is this one? You smile at him. Then you are taken to another man who pats your back and kisses your cheek. Then yet another fellow gives you a big hug and messes your hair.

Finally, someone (which guy is this?) pulls you into his arms with the biggest hug you’ve ever had. He kisses you all over your cheeks and croons to you in some language you’ve never heard before.

He leads you to a car and drives you to another location. Everything here looks different. The climate is not what you’re used to. The smells are strange. Nothing tastes familiar, except for the black coffee. You wonder if someone told him that you like your coffee black.

You find it nearly impossible to sleep. Sometimes you lie in bed for hours, staring into the blackness, furious with your husband for leaving you, yet aching from the loss. The new guy checks on you. He seems concerned and tries to comfort you with soft words and a mug of warm milk. You turn away, pretending to go to sleep.

People come to the house. You can feel the anxiety start to bubble over as you look into the faces of all the new people. You tightly grasp the new guy’s hand. He pulls you closer. People smile and nudge one other, marveling at how quickly you’ve fallen in love. Strangers reach for you, wanting to be a part of the happiness.

Each time a man hugs you, you wonder if he will be the one to take you away. Just in case, you keep your suitcase packed and ready. Although the man at this house is nice and you’re hanging on for dear life, you’ve learned from experience that men come and go, so you just wait in expectation for the next one to come along.

Each morning, the new guy hands you a cup of coffee and looks at you expectantly. A couple of times the pain and anger for your husband is so great that you lash out, sending hot coffee across the room, causing the new guy to yelp in pain. He just looks at you, bewildered. But most of the time you calmly take the cup. You give him a smile. And wait. And wait. And wait.

–Written by Cynthia Hockman-Chupp, analogy courtesy of Dr. Kali Miller

A fellow adoptive mother shared this word picture on her blog and I thought it fitting to share here as well. It gives me a reminder that no matter what our child just gained by joining our family, she just lost EVERYTHING familiar to her. It reminds us of where Anli may be coming from when she acts out, when she goes to anyone for comfort, when she screams for seemingly no reason. We hope it will also help you understand when we choose to guard her and not get out much for the first few months she is home. We will try our best to establish a new normalcy for her, set boundaries, and teach that this thing called family is permanent.

A Little Bit about Our Little Bit

A Little Bit about Our Little Bit

Changsha_Skyline_2008 We’d like to tell you a little more about what we’ve learned about our daughter from her long awaited file we received in August 2014. We’ve waited so long to share the little that we know with you all. So here it goes…

She is from Changsha, China, Hunan Province. At least that is where she has lived since infancy when she was taken to the orphanage. Changsha is the capital city of Hunan Province and, is situated in the river valley along the lower reaches of the Xiang River. The recorded history of the area can be traced back 3,000 years. As you can see from the photos, it’s a beautiful city- just like our little girl!c5_changsha_map Changsha is also known for it’s spicy foods! Maybe she will enjoy spicy cuisine just like her mommy, daddy, and brother.  Zhangjiajie-Mountain-e1340185949984You may have noticed Anli’s medical condition is a facial hemangioma. There are a few considerations we have to look into when she gets home, but nothing we cannot face together as a family. In fact, we don’t even see the redness on her face when we look at her. We just see this beautiful child God has blessed us with. This is not what defines her but just a part of who she is. Just the same as she has brown eyes like her brother, a pretty smile like her mommy, her daddy’s eye brows and I’m sure the list will go on as we get to know her.

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Anli’s Social Welfare Institute

Upon arriving home, Anli will be seen by an ophthalmologist. This will determine if she is developing glaucoma. She will will be monitored closely throughout her life by the eye doctor. She will also be seen by a dermatologist. This doctor will determine treatment for the blood vessels on her face. We are told most likely she will have laser treatment to relieve pressure on her eye, and minimize the vessels to prevent them from growing. Depending on the severity, these treatments will happen about 6 times per year over a period of a few months, and will reoccur every 2-3 years as the blood vessels reappear.

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Anli’s Home in China

In Anli’s profile she is described as sunshine. She likes hanging out with the big kids, she’s full of smiles, clever, outgoing and sometimes naughty. However, there is A LOT that we do not know. We can never tell our daughter the story of the day she was born. We can’t tell her what she looked like when she entered the world.  DSCN0591We can’t tell her what her first days, weeks, months, or even years were like. Oh, how this missing information about my precious girl breaks my heart. However, what we CAN do is try, in every way possible, to let her know how badly she was wanted by us. We can let her know how much we missed her when she was not with us. We can tell her how excited and proud her brother was of her. How he draws her pictures and tells everyone about her. july1, 2013changsha 247 While we are grateful to have this information about her, at the same time we are heartbroken about some of the information from her file. For example, the day she was given up. The place she was left. The date she entered the orphanage. Info that is really only for Anli to share should she choses.

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What we are also sad about is all that is NOT in that file. She has been alive for over 3 years now, and all that we know about these last 3 years is wrapped up in five pages of information and three pictures. The photos we have of Ollin’s first year alone range in the thousands. I feel heartbroken over the loss of all those memories, not for our sake but of hers. We will never know about Anli’s beginnings, and most importantly, she will never know. So many questions and so little answers. DSCN0589 That is why we do not want to lose one more day of time with her. This is why it’s driving me C.R.A.Z.Y that one little piece of paper is keeping us from getting on a plane and beginning life as a family of four. We want to go get her so badly! We are hoping that our TA arrives this week. Then we can go get our daughter and sister!

Be Still…

Ask any adoptive parent about the most difficult part of the adoption process and at some point you will hear the word WAITING! It’s very difficult knowing she will be ours soon- but not yet!  Every day that passes is a day without her here with us, a day without making memories, hearing her voice and giggles, a day that she goes without our kisses, another day of being separated.
Oh, how we miss her! Ollin woke up this morning and said, “Mommy, I want to go get Anli!” I replied, “I do too, buddy.”
Only one piece of paper is keeping us from getting on a plane. It’s called Travel Approval (TA). It’s basically a letter from the Chinese adoption authorities inviting us to come to China and complete her adoption. I refresh my email multiple times a day, every day hoping to find those words, “You can go get your child!” But we’re still waiting. In the meantime, we’ve been busy with Christmas celebrations, preparing her room, washing all her clothes, packing, applying for visas, planning the first part of our trip (Hong Kong), making lists, finishing up the last fundraiser, preparing to travel in a weeks’ notice, adoption paperwork, and the list goes on. . .

be-still-and-know-that-i-am-god-960x250Last week so many families in a China adoption fb group I am in received TA that pretty much all the Consulate appointments are full for January now. It was pretty exciting for them and even more disheartening to us to see so many people who had the same paperwork drop off date as us traveling this week and next. The more I refreshed my email the more disappointed I would get. I totally let worry, anxiety, and my desires to be with my child and care for her consume me. I wasn’t trusting that God’s timing may just be better than mine.

It was a great reminder that I’m not the one in control- God is! Maybe He still needs to prepare my heart to parent her better, to have patience with her, to comfort her, to love her. He’s also working on her heart as well. Maybe she needs more time? Maybe her caretakers need more time? Maybe Ollin needs more time? I certainly know the stress level has gone down as we have been able to get some things done around here- like buy her bed and put it together and order her car seat.

All I want is to hold my baby in my arms. My child who is waiting for her forever family, not even knowing that at this very moment I am staring at her picture for the 10th time today. This is the reality of the adoption wait.

God promises in Hebrews 13:15 as long as we are content with what we have, He will never leave us or forsake us. This scripture reminds me not only to be content in my waiting but that God will not leave her or forsake her. As a parent it’s extremely difficult to know your child is suffering and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. I need to “Be still and know that he is God” (Ps. 46:10) instead of being anxious for the wait to end.

This is just baby steps. There will be many other unknowns and sleepless nights in my parenting adventure.

Special Delivery! {sending LOVE from her family}

This should’ve been posted December 3 when we received these adorable photos and were on cloud 9 for days. However, things have been pretty crazy around here since my last post.
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After we got our Letter of Approval from China, we were allowed to send a care package to Anli. It was a lot of fun putting it together.  I’ve had a blast shopping for girl stuff. And I think Will has bought her something like 6 dolls already. To be honest, we’ve kind of gone overboard. All I could do while missing her was buy her clothes and shoes and leggings and hairbands. When I wished I could hold her in my arms, I’d just buy another dress or two or three.  At 3 years old, she only weighs 27 pounds and is 36″ tall (same exact size as her brother). She is still on the global growth charts, which is good!

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This care package was months in the making! A personal triumph like everything else in this crazy adoption process.

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We wanted to include a family book (pictured below). In thinking through all of the changes our baby girl will be facing upon arriving home in a few months, I wanted to give her a chance to get familiar with us and her new surroundings. Plus this is a chance for her to see our smiling faces. We found downloadable images on Etsy that had the English word and Mandarin character. It’s simple and has bright colors, easy to entice little eyes. We had to recreate it because the images were low res but it gave us a very quick reference. After adding pictures, we made the book at My Publisher which has super simple software to use and they’ve always sent us great quality books in the past but this one is my favorite.
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Before we sent it we prayed her nannies will help her read it often to assist her in the huge transition ahead. We hope that when she finally makes it home, she’ll recognize things here and it won’t seem as strange. Most of all, I hope that all three of our faces will begin to be familiar to her, as if she’d seen us in her dreams.
Hallmark makes recordable books and we bought one that I could actually “read,” or speak rather, in Mandarin. It’s called Counting Kisses and I said the number in Chinese then read the rest in English. Will did the preface telling her it was to her, Qiu Qiu (Cho Cho), From Mama, Baba, & Gege (Mommy, Daddy, & Brother) and in a sincere Texas accent- Wǒ ài nǐ (I love you)!
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chinese bookWe sent a doll which was obviously a hit! We also included a blanket sprayed with my perfume, bracelets, hat & mittens, PJ’s, socks, 2 warm outfits, and stickers & cookies for her friends and nannies.  Last, but certainly not least, we sent her a Book for her future. One that we hope her caretakers will take time to fill out the details of her life over the last 3 years. It also has questions so we can better take care of her from the moment we meet her: her likes and dislikes, what comforts her, her favorites, etc. We so hope they have the time to fill this out for her. This information will be priceless as she grows!

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Though I was excited for her to have something that belongs to her for the first time and for her to see our smiling faces, I’d prefer be on a plane to get her before the box even arrived. I would rather have her home for Christmas or even celebrate it there without the tree and gifts. Oh, soon enough. Soon enough.