Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Facing the Storms

Storms are a funny thing...

When a storm rolls in the darkness surrounds you.  The rain pours down, the thunder cracks overhead, and everything seems bleak.  If you didn't know how weather patterns work, it'd be very natural to think that the storm may never end.  You'd think that the sunshine and blue sky were gone for good, and that you'd always be in this overwhelming darkness.

Thankfully, we all know that storms pass. They are here today, gone tomorrow.  The sun always shines again.  What an amazing promise God gives us as we watch the weather patterns and know that our current weather is not forever.

I've written a post about our recent storms in about four draft forms, but each time I finished, I decided not to publish.  Why? Because when a storm is overhead, it's hard to know how soon the sun will shine again.  And while I want to be honest about the highs and lows against adoption, I never want a family to read our blog and think that it's too hard or they couldn't do this...

But the reality of our family is that for the last few months, Chengbin has been going through a storm and we were learning how to help him through.  As he gets older and more aware, he has come to realize that most people do not share his story.  Most children are born healthy, grow up with their biological family, and experience all the love and security that you might expect. He has struggled with how to make sense of his story.  How to make sense of the loss.  The emotional pain.  The physical pain.  The feelings of loneliness he experienced.  He struggled for months in his little heart and mind trying to make sense of it all and over time we learned how to talk about it.  I prayed daily for God to give me the wisdom and the insight I needed to help him through this.  To help his little broken heart heal.  I downright pleaded with my Jesus over and over again to heal my broken baby's heart.  The darkness seemed overwhelming sometimes as I struggled to help him, not knowing if what we were doing was enough.

I have prayed over this boy for years now.  I know that Jesus will be the one to heal all the parts of his broken heart back together and he has entrusted us to be the parents of this precious little boy and to take every opportunity to help in his healing.

Together, we've faced the storm.  We've allowed him to be angry and sad and however else he feels.  He has every right to feel this way.  I became a Mama Counselor as we finally got to some of the reasons for his anger and sadness and fear and difficulty.  The truth of his story is that it isn't fair and it will never make sense.  His story is absolutely heartbreaking.  My heart breaks for this sweet boy and all he's had to endure.  But I'm thankful I also know the ultimate healer who makes all things new again.  Who 'heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds' (psalm 147:3). 

I have held my precious boy in my arms like a baby and cried with him as he expressed so many things for the first time ever.  The things he said were so hard to hear so I can only imagine how much harder they were to live.  I won't share the details because it is his story, but no child should have to endure the pain these precious children do as they suffer loss of their families and then live life in an orphanage with no one to call their own.  

I beg you all to consider bringing home one of these precious babies.  They need family! They need love!  They need someone to hold them when they cry.  They need someone to be on their team and be there for them when they are sick.  They need permanency and the forever that only a family can provide.  How can we call ourselves the church and say we want to follow Jesus, then turn our backs to the lonely, the broken-hearted, and the hungry children of our world who live and die alone with no one to call their own? This boy NEEDED us and millions like him NEED the church to rise up and be Jesus for them!!!  But I digress...

As I've held this sweet boy in my arms and grieved with him, I've seen some amazing things begin to happen...

The sun is starting to shine again.  And I'll be honest, it seems brighter than before. We've gone from doing terrible in school (read- emotional shutdown) to doing well- even getting Student of the Week at his school.  From crying every evening while doing homework, to easily accomplishing it with time left over to do some extra reading.  We've seen things that usually send him into tears change into a normal, regular reaction.  The change has been nothing short of miraculous!  Truly, the sun seems to be shining brighter than ever for him.

And I'm so grateful.  I'm grateful that in God's great mercy, he gave me Jesus to walk hand in hand with through all my storms in life.  And because he healed my heart time and time again, I know he can heal my son's.  And because he called me to be this precious boy's Mama, I know that he will provide the strength, the compassion, the wisdom, and the love I need to help him through his storms.

I know this will not be the last storm, the process of healing his heart will take many more years.  But if the sun shines brighter and brighter with each passing storm, there's no telling how beautiful it's going to be in the end!

'Once in darkness, wandering hopeless,
Never knowing love that frees us.

Then your glory like the morning, broke the silence, rewrote our story.

Once in darkness, wandering hopeless, never knowing love that frees us.  

Then your mercy, like the morning, broke the silence, rewrote our story.

Once in darkness, wandering hopeless, never knowing love that frees us...

Oh what glory! Oh what mercy! Where our story begins!'

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

365 Days with Laila

Today is a big day!  Today is the one year anniversary of Laila's "gotcha" day in Nanning, China.  This time last year our sweet girl was having one of the worst days of her life.  She was torn from everything she'd ever known and she was NOT happy about it.  She refused to go to me (she's a stubborn girl for sure) and eventually her Nanny just had to walk away and I was told to pick her up.  She SCREAMED.  A LOT.  Our sweet little girl was downright terrified.  And who could blame her?  Adoption is the best response we can give to little lives that have been filled with far too much loss, but at the onset, adoption is one more difficult thing for a child to go through.
Thankfully, "Gotcha" Day is not just the end of one story, but it is where the story of redemption begins.  I'll tell ya honestly guys, redemption isn't an easy story.  It is sad, sometimes heartbreaking.  There are tears from the scared child and from the heartbroken new parents as they watch their new child process another loss.  It is hard.  Sometimes really hard. There's rejection.  There's trauma.  There's far too much to explain in a simple blog post.
During the days after Gotcha we were in survival mode.  She would hardly sleep.  She would cry for her nanny at the top of her lungs, pointing to the door and to the window and yelling "Agea"!!!!  She had sores ALL OVER her arms and legs.  Her belly was distended and hard.  I remember undressing her, putting her in the bathtub, and praying to God that she would be okay.  She was sick, she was broken-hearted, and we were all in survival mode.  Just get through this bath.  Just get through this night.  Just get through this day...

Thankfully, by God's grace with each passing day a little more healing took place.  Her emotional scars began to heal.  Her physical scars began to heal.  Our family came together and settled in for the long haul.  Her attachment was harder than Chengbin's had been.  She just needed more time.  In China she didn't like Mommy.  Once home she wasn't so sure about Daddy.  Thankfully her "Half the Sky" book that the orphanage gave us had documented every bit of her life that she'd spent in the orphanage and provided us tremendous insight.
This sweet girl barely crawled at 16 months old.  She didn't walk until she was 22 months old.  Every 6 months in the orphanage, her one-on-one caregiver changed and she grieved that loss.  No wonder her attachment was so difficult- she had spent her life up until this point extremely sick, extremely tired, and with caregivers that kept changing right as she would build her attachment.

 So not surprisingly, it was more than 6 months before she really began to build attachment to all members of our family.  After the 6th or 7th month she finally began to see that this just might be different.  That we just might be her forever.

We have been so blessed.  God really has given us a front row seat to witness a miracle.  That's what she is- a miracle.

Sweet Laila Jean is a happy, healthy four year old! 
She's funny and so, so sassy!! (But don't tell her cause she'll insist that she is NOT SASSY! ssshhhhh) 
 She loves to play with "Sissy and Chengbin".
She constantly asks "I sleep with Mommy at Disneyworld??"
We just love this little firecracker of a girl so much!!!! 
We can't wait to see the plans God has for this girl!!!  It seemed only fitting that she wear the special shirt that so many friends and strangers bought to help bring her home on this special day.  We let her balloons go and said a prayer that somewhere her birth Mama & Baba will receive a peace in their hearts that only God can give them.

365 days with Laila.
Thank you ALL for supporting us along the way.  For praying for us.  For helping us bring her home.  For loving this little girl from afar and then welcoming her into her new family, new church, new school, and new life!
Laila Jean, you have been one of the most amazing blessings of our life.  We are so lucky to be your family.  I am so lucky to be your Mommy.  Always remember, God really does have more in store for you than you can ask or imagine.  And we will be sitting on the front row to watch it all unfold!!

Monday, September 14, 2015

First Day of School!

Well, the summer came and went SO fast I still can't believe it's over!!

The kids started school in mid-August and we are adjusted and back to learning!

Kate- 5th Grade
Chengbin- 1st Grade
Laila- Pre-k4

I am still shocked at how much has changed in Laila in less than a year!! She started out daycare in the 1 year old class and it was correct for her developmentally.  For her to walk in to a prek4 classroom only 10 months later is a miracle!!! God is doing miracles in her life and the view from the front row is magnificent!!

And ever since that first day of school I've been asked every, single day...
'Mama, can I go bus with Sissy & Chengbin??'

Soon little one- soon!!

He writes the best stories doesn't he???

Monday, August 31, 2015

11 months, 9 days, AND....

She put her feet on the rug!!! Most children who grow up in orphanages have sensory issues... Textures or temperatures or smells or sounds that they simply have not experienced and that make them INCREDIBLY uncomfortable.

For Laila, bathroom rugs have been her nemesis.  She has freaked out every single time her little feet have touched the bathroom rugs.  She has continually stepped around it, over it, or smartly sat a towel on top of it to make its feeling more manageable.

But today- 11 months and 9 days after joining our family she stepped her little feet onto it after her bath.  And then she rubbed her feet along it, feeling it's softness for the first time and appreciating this new sensory.

It may seem like a small thing... But for her, this is a BIG thing!  And we are celebrating!!! Yea Laila!!! Mommy is so proud of you!!

We are also praising God for setting this precious girl, once an orphan with no hope, into a family filled with love and so much hope! What a blessing to watch God make beauty of ashes.