Saturday, November 7, 2009

NEWS!!!


We are beginning a new blog with a new focus.  Our new blog is called A Family Rebuilding the Wall. We will simply be journaling as our own family works to serve each other within the walls of our own home and then overflows that love into ministering to orphans as Jesus did. It is our desire to humbly serve where HE leads us, as we (similar to Nehemiah) encourage a brick-by-brick rebuilding of the walls of orphan ministry.

We will no longer be posting on this blog (The Road to Beautiful Grace), but we will keep it up for others to read about our adoption journey. If you'd like to keep in touch with us (and we hope you will!), please pop over to our other blog and sign up as follower.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Three months ago...

Yep...it's been 3 months since we first laid eyes on our bundle of joy. I know many parents use that phrase to describe their new arrivals, but I use it with deep conviction. This angel IS a bundle of JOY!



Here she is after a candy hunt last week. She had never been on a candy hunt, and she was confused about the bag full of candy she found hidden in the basket at the end of the hunt. She pulled a bag of candy out, then stuck it back in the bag and then pulled it out again. I snapped this picture at the exact moment that it donned on her: "Oh, this candy is for ME!!!"


Here she was on the first day we saw her. This picture was taken as she was watching her Daddy play the guitar in the orphanage. Now, when he plays the guitar, she dances and shakes her little musical bells. She's also been known to strum Daddy's guitar and throw the pick in the sound hole for fun. :)












What a difference 3 months in a family makes!





I've been gone from blog world for quite some time now. I've been working on a project that my Heavenly Father has given to me. Very soon I will announce what it is. :)







Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Show Hope to Orphans

I just removed our music from this blog and in its place, I put the new video from Show Hope. If you scroll to the bottom of this screen, you can view it. I encourage you to view this video and to pass it along to others, add it to your own blog and get the word out. A beautiful ministry for orphans with special needs!



Did you know that if only 7% of Christians were to care for ONE orphan, there would essentially be no more orphans? Only SEVEN PERCENT.

God may call some Christians to adopt, some to be foster parents, some to sponsor a child in a children's village (for a beautiful example of this, click here), some to open orphanages in other countries, some to give financially to help adopting families afford adoption (to help our friends who are adopting Ruslana, click here), and some to be prayer warriors for specific orphans (for an incredible opportunity to do this, click here). We all have different roles to play, but we are all called to do something. James 1:27 says that caring for orphans is pure and lasting religion. If only 7% of Christians were to take this to heart, we'd essentially have no more orphans.

Anyway, please scroll to the video at the bottom of the screen. This is another way we can step out to help orphans. Get the word out! Be part of that precious 7%!!! :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It's been 3 weeks...

Three weeks ago we walked into the orphanage in Taiwan and picked up our angel who didn't want anything to do with us. What a bittersweet day for all of us! But today was just SWEET...no bitter. I wanted to post some pictures from today...

Look at one of the sweetest faces on the planets! As our oldest daughter said this afternoon: "She's just so sweet, isn't she?" Truly genuinely sweet. It is honestly a JOY to be her Mama!
She was busy busy busy today. Here she is outside on her little slide. She didn't want to slide down but was happy as a lark to sit and look through all the "holes" in her playset. Peek-a-boo!

Awwww...here's the view I have...her reaching up for me. Pick me up, Mama! She started wanting up last week, and my heart soared. I always say YES when those little arms ask "up." :)



Every day we have quiet time, and Grace naps. Before she drifts off the sleep, we enjoy some cuddle time. Three weeks ago, she wouldn't make eye contact, wouldn't cuddle, wouldn't let me touch her arms while she took her bottle. Today she looks intently into my eyes, smiles, giggles and drifts to sleep (not to mention finishing a whole bottle!). Sometimes during her nap, she will start to cry an awful cry...she won't wake up and is "stuck" in some bad dream or bad memory...or perhaps crying over losses...I'm not sure what it is, but I just hold her through it. This used to happen every day, but now it is less frequent.



And here she is being a "Mama" to her baby doll. She can say "doll" and can make the sign for it. She loves her baby and is a very good Mama, patting her baby and covering her in the blanket. Amazing that she herself wouldn't let us hold her like that 3 weeks ago, and today she lets us hold her and also mimics this with her baby doll! :) Really...could she get any sweeter??
What an incredibly amazing 3 weeks! God is GOOD!



Thursday, August 20, 2009

Our big adventure















We've been home for almost 2 weeks, and I still haven't found time to blog about our trip. We've been busy with a certain little princess (as well as 3 of her siblings!). Everyone adores her, and she keeps us BUSY! And then school started. We are homeschoolers, so that means REALLY BUSY now! Anyway, today while the older children are busy with a building project this afternoon, I've sat little Miss Grace in her chair beside me with a good snack...so we'll see how much I can blog today... :) She's HAPPY...especially when she sees the pictures of herself, so I plan to post several!












Our trip to Taiwan was great! Because of heavy rain at our airport, we left several hours late and only had 20 minutes to catch our connecting flight in San Francisco. God truly intervened as we were running through the airport at 4am...one person radioed another person, and they held the plane for us. By the time we got to our gate, they had given away our seats, so they put us in FIRST CLASS! WOW!! First class on international flights is an amazing experience...chairs that lay down into beds, slippers, fine dishes, the works! We were SPOILED! How many of you know that God has amazing connections??!!










Taiwan was an amazing place! The people were so friendly, and we had the very best driver in the world. He went out of his way to help us several times. We were never lost in Taipei because of Nick. He let us call him any time we had any questions or problems. The streets of Taipei are very very busy...people everywhere...and the buildings have signs all over them! Reminded us a bit of New York City except with Chinese signs everywhere.










The experience in the orphanage was bittersweet. We ministered to the children through music (my husband took his guitar), and that was wonderful. The orphanage is really a good one. The caretakers really seem to love the children, and the orphanage was extremely CLEAN. They even asked us to take off our shoes before we went into the room with the children (no outside shoe germs...I love that!).










Our daughter, LeLe (nickname) did NOT want to have anything to do with us. She loved her favorite caretaker and didn't want to leave her. This made a very rough time. They put us in the playroom alone with her so that we could acquaint, but she's a girl who knows what she wants, and she knew she did NOT want us. :( We tried every trick...snacks, treats, toys, smiles, etc...she didn't want us to touch her at all. Finally, they suggested that my husband just pick her up and let her cry in his arms. She cried herself to sleep, and that is how we left the orphanage. This is not the vision we had dreamed of for months, but it also didn't surprise us as we expected this "Gotcha Day" to be a shock to her. So, as we left with her asleep, my heart broke thinking of her waking up in the taxi or the hotel with new people, new environment, etc. And sure enough, she awakened on the elevator up to our hotel room. Poor baby girl! She was so confused. The rest of the day she just sat with her back hunched over and silent tears flowing down her cheeks...no noise at all. BROKE MY HEART!!










But the next day was better, and every day has been better. She still has a couple of rough points every day, but overall, she is adjusting very well. She did fabulously on the flight, and we even flew out in a TYPHOON! I'm telling you...God had us on an amazing adventure!










Grace is really one of the sweetest human beings on the planet. She makes us all smile, even when we don't feel like smiling (like last night when she decided she didn't like her dinner...she threw the breakable bowl across the room...we gently but firmly said NO...and after she looked at us for a few seconds, she grinned her big grin...and that was the end of any bad feelings we had about the bowl!). :) She has reminded us over and over about the JOY in life. Even when she is having one of her sad moments and she withdrawals from us to cry silent tears...when she comes back around to feeling a bit better, she will stick out her foot for us to kiss. And, YES, we DO kiss that sweet foot (you would too if you saw how cute she is when she does this!). That's when she smiles again and life keeps marching on. She teaches us in her own little way that life is meant to be lived and enjoyed...she has taught us to cry when you're sad but don't marinade in it...come back out and join in on life's joys again. :) She's definitely a strong little girl, and we have learned a great deal about LOVE from her!










I'm attaching pictures, but for some reason I cannot seem to get them to post in any certain order. Someone help me on that! :) Pics are: A view of a street in Taiwan (taken from our driver's car), Grace waving at us the first time she saw us, the sad picture of her not wanting us at the orphanage and then a happy pic at HOME! Thank you for all the support and prayers!

















Monday, August 10, 2009

Surprise!!!




Guess who is home???!!! Yep...here she is... I have so much I want to share when I have a chance to write more. But for now I'll just post a quick note and a couple of pics. Gotcha Day was August 4th. :)


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Her bed!


Just wanted to give a peek at Grace's bed. Perfect for a princess full of grace! And the doll on her bed is a gift from our friends, and it has an amazing wonderful story that I hope to share someday soon when I have a chance to write more. :)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ladybugs everywhere!



Just days before we began our adoption process, my husband called me outside. "Come look at THIS!!!" I found him on the front porch, and our house was COVERED in hundreds of ladybugs!! I had to LAUGH because I had recently heard that a ladybug was a symbol of "good luck" in China. And in Asian adoptions, it is believed that a ladybug is a sign of an upcoming referral (being matched with your child). So, the hundreds of ladybugs all over our house made me smile and then laugh out loud. God never ceases to make me smile! Just a couple of days later, we began our process to bring Grace home.

We aren't into "luck and symbols," but ladybugs have become a very fun part of our lives! :) It seems everywhere we turn, there's a ladybug. We are decorating the girls' room in pink and green and hints of red. And I found the sweetest ladybug blanket that has all 3 colors...it's sitting pretty on Grace's bed. I will take pictures at some point when my sweet husband is done using my camera for his latest adventure. :)

Anyway, I wanted to share some pictures of this really fun card that my mom and dad sent last week. It's a ladybug, and the wings pop open. And LOOKIE who is inside the ladybug! Yep, our Grace! On the back of her picture, it says, "Grace, granddaughter of Mamabella and Grandpa Jerry." How precious is that? It warmed my heart! Did I ever mention that I have great parents??! We have great support from so many people. Grace is blessed with a wonderful group of friends and family! :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Grace's Daddy

This blog is "ours," but because I'm the one who writes this, it is my thoughts you hear. So many adoption blogs are done by moms because we're typically the ones who tend to talk, talk, talk about our adoption journey. :) But there's another side that I wanted to take a moment to highlight.

Grace's Daddy is very excitedly awaiting her arrival. He has rearranged car seats, painted the girls' room, worked extra hours to put more towards our adoption, learned sign language to help communicate with his new daughter, listened to Chinese lullabies during dinner (when he could have easily had his choice of music), and even pulled an all-nighter one night to declutter living spaces to make life a bit less chaotic for Grace (and then left for work with no sleep under his belt...never complained a bit!).

One day at the beginning of our adoption journey, he found himself spending his only "free day" laying a cement pad around our well (something environmental health needed us to do before passing our adoption paperwork inspection for our well). That day I took him lunch down by the well so that he could eat and keep working. I said, "How are you doing?" I knew full well that he'd rather be using his free day to do any number of projects around our property, but he surprised me with, "I just keep seeing her face in my mind, and that makes it all worth the inconvenience of this work." My heart melted.

That Daddy loves his Grace! She already has him wrapped around her little finger, and she hasn't even laid eyes on him! :) He's already picturing himself playing his guitar for her while she be-bops and jingles her little streamers with bells (her caretakers say that she LOVES music class, so we bought her a beginning "instrument").

Grace's Daddy would do anything for her. He is anticipating the day we pick her up. He has plans to video her city so that she will always have it. He's a good Daddy. And just to think...just one year ago, he couldn't have pictured himself adopting. It goes to show what happens when God grabs ahold of a life and says, "Will you GO for me?" And we say, "Yes, Lord, send me."

Monday, July 6, 2009

Celebrating Grace's birthday!



Here are some photos from Grace's birthday celebration. We planned it so that when she woke up for her birthday, we were eating Chinese food celebrating her special day. It was a fun way to "connect" us to her. One of the things we ordered was a noodle dish because noodles are one of her favorite foods. :) We propped her photo album up on our table so that she could "be with us." :) The next day, which was her birth date in America, we celebrated with a birthday cake and presents. It was bittersweet...we loved celebrating her precious life, and yet we wished she were here to celebrate with us. Neat memories to add to her lifebook...


Friday, July 3, 2009

Grace is coming home!!!

Well, last night we got "the call!!" Our court ruling was in, and Grace is ours!!!!! Travel will be in August!! All praise goes to our Heavenly Father who hand-carried our paperwork through the process. We stand in awe of His grace and our little Grace!

Pics of Grace's birthday "party" here at home will be posted soon. :) I'm having keyboard issues, so typing is a huge challenge. Hence, the short message. :)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What do I do when I'm missing Grace??


Well, tonight, I did laundry! HER CLOTHES! We've had some outfits given to us, and we've bought a few things too. We had left all the tags on them, waiting for the right time to wash everything and put it into dresser drawers. But tonight that maternal instinct was so strong that I HAD to do something for Grace. So, I gathered up all her clothes and washed them, folded them and...well, I couldn't actually put them into drawers because we're in the midst of painting her room...but just look at the basket of pretty baby girl clothes! :) I never think of laundry as a wonderful blessing, but tonight it was. A Mama's heart is a mysterious thing!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Mid-month photos



Well, technically, it's not mid-month anymore. Pictures ran late this month, but they did arrive yesterday. They tugged at my Mama heart, and plunged me into more prayer for this precious little girl. When I look at her pictures, I see my daughter...and she doesn't have her Mama there to do so many things that a Mama should do. Needless to say, seeing these pictures made for an emotional day for me. But, I am thankful for this monthly window into her world. It's just sometimes unbearably hard not to be able to climb into the photos and enter her world in the way that only a Mama can do. Please continue to pray her HOME!!!

We received word this morning that the orphanage did receive Grace's birthday gift from us. They will give it to her soon. That warms my heart.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Walking out our faith



From the beginning of this journey, we have received so much support from so many people. Some people we know, and others we do not. Some donations have been sent directly to us, and others have been given anonymously through Reece's Rainbow. We have been absolutely BLESSED by so many people, and I wanted to take a moment to THANK YOU...each and every one of you!

And let me share with you a story of faith. We stepped onto this road last October, as God led us to adopt Grace. We did not have a savings account specified for adoption, and yet we committed to adopt her. Some may call that irresponsible. We call it "crazy faith!" :) It was one of those moments when the "rubber meets the road" in our spiritual walk. We believed that God provides for those who love and obey Him...we could quote Scriptures about God's faithfulness...we could sing songs about how we will follow Jesus no matter what. But do we REALLY believe it? Do we walk it out? Those were very real questions for us, as we had never taken a step of faith quite so big. We had never before walked onto "nothingness." It was like stepping off the edge of a cliff in the dark. And yet somehow, someway when we stepped in full faith and had nothing at all to rely on but God, THAT is the moment He showed up in the most profound ways.

I could give you story after story of how at the exact moment we needed additional funds, the exact amount arrived. And if you've spent any time on adoption blogs, you will see a similar thread running through all our stories: We stepped out, and GOD did the rest! I think that part of the reason that adoption looks impossible because of financial barriers is so that it HAS to be a walk of faith. It makes it impossible in human terms so that God Himself has to deliver every dollar and every miracle along the journey...so that we can look back and say, "It was HIM, not me, who did this!" After all, it is God who is the One who places the lonely in families. It is all HIM.

I don't advocate for everyone to adopt. I think we all have our own roles to play in caring for God's children...some give money, some work in orphanages, some are foster parents, some send clothes to orphans, some work in crisis pregnancy centers, and some adopt. But if you are one of those people who has ever seen a child in need and said, "I would adopt them if I had the money," then please seek God...it may be HIM who is laying that burden on your heart. You may not have the money, but HE DOES! If He calls you, He will provide. As my sweet friend Joy always says, "God always pays for what He orders." :)

And now where are we in our journey? We started with $0 saved and a big "mountain" of $17,000 in expected fees and expenses for our adoption. But, what does God say about mountains? If we have faith as small as a mustard seed, we can say to this mountain, "Be removed," and it will be. We speak to our mountains! :) Somehow, someway...and we cannot even explain HOW it all came to be (MIRACLES!)...we are at the tail end of our journey and only lack $3436. Now, let me tell you...GOD DID THAT! And we have faith that He will bring in every single penny of the remaining fees. It is HIM who is placing Grace into our family! If that doesn't give you goose bumps, then you missed it (read it again!). :)

I will close with a THANK YOU to the Lupfer family who recently blessed us 3 times with donations. They worked to earn extra money for our adoption. God has blessed us with amazing friends and wonderful support! Here you can see the book sale they had to earn money to bring home Grace. May God bless each of you who has played an instrumental role in bringing His child home to us! Help us PRAY her home!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Signs of Grace

It's mid-month, but still no new pictures of Grace. Every day we check the mailbox in high hopes. Hopefully soon...

In the meantime, we see "signs of Grace" popping up. Over the weekend, Chris cleaned our van. We cleaned the car seat covers and bumped everyone to a new car seat, leaving the toddler car seat empty for Grace. Now, it's "Grace's seat." And her clothes are starting to make their way into our washer. You can see a picture of some of her things on the washer and dryer. The other picture shows the dress we sent to her for her birthday as well as the 2 matching outfits that we bought for Hannah and Grace (SO CUTE!). Little things here and there...tangible evidence that she will be home soon. It may not seem like much, but for a Mama whose youngest child is on the other side of the world, these "little things" are like therapy for the aching maternal heart!

The Hyman family (Lilly's family) got "the call!" This is the anticipated moment when the placing agency calls to say that the court ruling is in and it's time to travel! We have walked this road with them, so when they received the news, Sheryl was so sweet to let me know right away. My heart was pounding with excitement! (So I can only imagine what I'll feel when we get our call!). We had hoped to travel with the Hyman family, but our paperwork was a month behind theirs. We are JOYFUL with them. And they are going to take another little gift to Grace from us, so that does my mama heart good. :)




Monday, June 8, 2009

His Training Grounds

Let me share a story with you...it's long but worth the read... :)

Eleven years ago we were blessed with our first-born. I had spent 9 months reading and learning all we could about babies...I learned about newborn sleep cycles, how to breastfeed successfully, and how to change a diaper without letting baby fall off the dressing table. We had taken childbirth classes and CPR classes. We were PREPARED! (You can laugh here...if you're a parent, you know we are never fully prepared for these little creatures!)

Fast-forward to birth day. After 29 hours of labor (wait a minute, isn't the average labor supposed to be something like 14 hours??? The book said so!!!), our little bundle of Heaven was born. She was alert and breastfed like a champ! Things were going well, and I was oh so happy that I had read all those books! After holding her for hours, the nurses suggested we put her in her bassinet and get some well-deserved sleep. I wrapped her up like a burrito and nursed her one last time and put her down. Then it happened...

I was still trying to get comfy in the hospital bed when our little bundle began to cry...I patted her, and she cried louder. The moment I picked her up and began to nurse her, she was content and would drift to sleep in my arms. I lay her down once again, and the moment her body touched the bed, she'd wake again and cry. The nurses assured me that all newborns sleep and if we left her alone, she'd drift to sleep. But apparently they forgot to explain that to the 3-hour-old-burrito-wrapped bundle! By the time we left the hospital, all the nurses were stumped, saying, "Well, we've NEVER seen a newborn like this one! Good luck!" With that farewell, they sent us home with our angel and some serious bags under our eyes.

On the 4th day of no sleep, we did the unthinkable...the thing that we had been severely warned never to do... We put our baby in bed with us, and miracle of miracles! SHE SLEPT! She'd wake to nurse, but we managed to do that while sleeping too...and PEACE filled our home at last. But, guilt beat me up on the inside. I was a first-time mama, and all the experts and seasoned moms were telling me it was not the best thing to do. So, I kept trying to make my baby be like typical babies. I kept trying to put her in her crib and crying in huge frustration when she wouldn't sleep in it even 5 minutes. Then one day a good friend of mine called to see how I was, and I broke down sobbing. She listened to my sad tale and then said something that would change my life. She said, "I think you have a high need baby. I will bring you a book that may help you out." In a few days I was reading Dr. Sears book about High Need Babies, and for the first time since I gave birth, we finally had someone in our corner! There were 13 high need characteristics, and our baby had 12 of the 13...so in other words, even in the world of high need babies (which are rare!), she was a HIGH END HIGH NEED BABY! God had surprised us...huge curve ball!

Very few people understood, but with our Dr. Sears book, prayer and a lot of faith, we began to follow his advice on parenting our Hannah. We began to practice faithfully this thing called "attachment parenting." I carried her in a baby sling every waking moment of the day and slept beside her at night. I nursed her "on demand" instead of the typical baby feeding schedule. I responded to her cries immediately and never let her "cry it out." (Well, once we tried to let her cry it out, and she was at the point of throwing up when we scooped her up and realized that Dr. Sears really did know what he was talking about!!). We kept her with us in church services, even with several concerned people asking us to please take her to the nursery where babies belonged (even though she was quiet as a mouse...after all, she was nursing the whole time under the blanket!). This was hard because we didn't fit in anywhere, and we were in a sense "out there" and very much on our own. BUT out of our crying bundle, we began to see a calm peace take place...she knew we were there for her and began to be have a content spirit (as long as she was attached to us...literally, I couldn't put her down even for a minute or else she'd cry into hysteria!). She was not (and still isn't) a typical child, but God called us to parent her according to her "bent" and how He formed her, no matter what the experts or Aunt Bertha says is best for babies. We had to form our own version of "normal," and we had to just stand firm when we received opposite advice from well-meaning people. (We LOVED everyone for trying to help, but they just didn't understand).

So why on earth do I tell this story?? Well, it occurred to me recently that all that struggle with understanding our baby...and all the "swimming against the current" to parent her the way she needed rather than the way "typical children" were parented...ALL of that long road of constant attachment parenting is now the foundation for this new road God put us on. We're currently in "training" for adopting a special needs child from another country. There are several layers of "issues" we are facing in this adventure, and we take this calling seriously...we are preparing as much as we can. And the big word that keeps popping up over and over again in book after book is "attachment." Grace will need a different kind of parenting...not for "typical children" but for a child who will be 3 years old physically but 0 years old emotionally. She cannot be left to "cry it out" or else the feelings of abandonment will be deepened. She will need an intensity of parenting that will attach her securely to us, allowing her to realize that we will not abandon her as she was abandoned in the past. We need attachment parenting in its purest, most concentrated form. And it hit me recently that though we can never be fully prepared for our adoption (just as we couldn't be fully prepared for our biological child...there are surprises in every bundle from Heaven!)...we do see that God HAS prepared us in a unique way for the road ahead. We have a priceless foundation that we learned from our Hannah. We know all about attachment parenting...we've been there for the 24/7 attachment process of a high need baby (I carried Hannah in a sling every waking moment until she turned 2...she nursed until she was 3.5... and she slept in our bed until she was 4). And guess what? She's doing great, and we're doing great! :) Even to this day, we hear comments like, "I've never met a child like Hannah," but now it's in a positive way...she's just unique! We'd do all that hard work of attachment parenting all over again! In fact, when our sons were born and were NOT high need babies, we still parented them with attachment parenting because it was an incredible blessing in disguise. And now we're in the process of getting slings again and preparing to attach another sweet bundle (Chris is even wanting a backpack carrier so that he can also carry her...Mama has to share our girl!). I actually find myself looking very forward to all those days with her in the sling against me...and all the nights of reassuring her that Mama is here and everything is okay. What an amazing turn of events over the past 11 years...all orchestrated by God, the one who created every baby special! And to think...I CRIED during all those hard training sessions in the beginning!

Please be encouraged today if you are in a situation where God is asking you to do something that nobody else understands. If the road is hard today, remember that it may very well be the foundation to something really amazing down the road. God prepares us in mysterious ways. His training grounds aren't usually easy but always worth it! Lord, may I always submit to your ways, even if I don't understand and even if nobody understands me either!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Win a beautiful quilt!

About a month ago I shared with y'all that our new friends who are adopting Lilly are hosting a quilt "give away."  It is a handmade (BEAUTIFUL!!) quilt, and they are raffling it off.  Tickets are just $5 each.  If you haven't taken the time to buy some raffle tickets, PLEASE do.  It gives you a chance to win an awesome prize (and who wouldn't want this gorgeous quilt?)...you could even give it as a Christmas gift (to me!  LOL!)...and at the same time you are helping to bring home Lilly (every dollar goes toward her adoption expenses).  You can go to their blog http://www.weneedonemore.blogspot.com/  and on the right side you will see the beautiful quilt.  You can donate right there online.  Easy!  The drawing will be in 6 days, I believe, so hurry! :)   


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Heartbeat day!!

 Today we had one of those days in our adoption journey that made me SMILE (well, actually, I was crying and smiling at the same time...one of THOSE moments!).    The FedEx man delivered a box of goodies from our adoption agency!!  This is our "toolbox" to help us navigate through the preparation for receiving our little Grace.  Look at all the great things they sent!!  Tons of books for us and for Grace!  And look at that T-shirt and teddy bear.  Very special!

Some days of this adoption journey are "slower" than others...where we know we are adopting, yet it seems somewhere far down a road...something we simply BELIEVE is happening, without having anything tangible to grasp.  And then there are occasional days like today when we can "hear the heartbeat" of Grace.  Whether it is new pictures of her or a box full of goodies like we received today, it's something tangible that connects us to her.  It's like hearing her heartbeat for a few minutes and realizing, "Yes, this really IS happening.  We really are 'pregnant' with this precious little girl.  And we really are getting closer to the day when we can scoop her up in our arms and never let her go."  Today was a HEARTBEAT DAY!  And I thank God for such sweet moments along our journey.

I almost forgot to mention that we have homework to do in these books.  This is part of our "training" for international adoption.  It may look overwhelming to see all those books at once, but for us, it's one step closer to our daughter.

Oh...and if you want to see a "visual" of the beginning process of adoption, please visit my new friend Elisabeth's blog. http://nogreatergift.blogspot.com/2009/05/phew.html  I love that she captured this on camera and in words.  They are in the beginning stages of their adoption process...preparing the home study paperwork.  Pray for them, as that can be an overwhelming time of running all over creation getting things on "THE LIST" done.  

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Round #2 of paperwork

Two weeks ago we were told that we needed to submit more paperwork.  All of it had to be notarized and authenticated by the county and then the state.  So we went through the series of hoops all over again.  More papers to sign, more cover letters to type, more fees to pay, and more parking garages than you can imagine!  :)  This time we were at least familiar with the buildings and procedures, so we knew which garages to park in, which elevators to take, and which suites to go into (and in which order to do it all in!).  Busy day! 

But all is well, and our paperwork should be resubmitted by now.  Please pray it smoothly through the court process. 


Monday, May 18, 2009

Gift of Grace!



Just look at this beautiful treasure God is leading us to!  :) I find myself constantly overwhelmed by God's grace...his gift of grace that adopted US into His forever family...and His gift of our little Grace who is awaiting her adoption into our forever family.  Amazing grace...how sweet the sound!

 We received Grace's new pictures and her latest update.  She seems much happier and more comfortable this month than she did last month with her fractured arm.  From her update, it appears she's doing well.  Apparently she loves her music class and doesn't want to "go home" after class but would rather sit and learn music all day!  Her Daddy was very happy about that...like father, like daughter!  :)

There is a family who is traveling to pick up their daughter from the same orphanage, and they have graciously offered to take a gift to Grace from us.  So, I hopped on the sewing machine to make the blanket we had planned for her.  I'm posting a picture of it.  This is the first gift we've given to Grace, and we wanted it to show her how much we love her.  I'm washing it this morning and then plan to pray over it and sleep with it (to get our "smell" on it) for a couple of nights nights...then I'll take it to the post office.  In two weeks, Grace will have a blanket that I made for her...I cannot express in words how much that means to my maternal heart.  It's the closest I can get to her right now, and my very heart is in that blanket!

So there you have it...the gift of Grace and our gift to Grace!  :)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Our cup overflows...


It has been an action-packed 2 weeks!  Almost every day something has happened in our adoption journey, and each time I think, "I need to blog this."  But the days all fell into each other and became weeks, and here I sit on a quiet Sunday afternoon to finally catch up on blogging.  So, HI!  Pull up a comfy chair and a cup of tea (or coffee)...and buckle your seatbelts for a tour...this is going to be a lengthy one!  :)

As I said in my last post, all of the Grace Bears were bought by a precious family who have asked for me to keep them anonymous.  They bought the bears and then sent them to special needs children.  Imagine how FULL my heart is in knowing that these bears were donated to us from a sweet friend in our home school community...the next day a sweet home school mom bought 25 bears to bless nursing home residents...and the next day, the rest of the bears were all bought by another sweet family to bless special needs children!  And to top it all off, the whole thing brought in $847 towards our adoption!   I still stand in awe that we never asked for this blessing...we never expected it...but God moved in people's generous hearts and willing hands...and the blessing was MULTIPLIED to affect many people.  Words cannot express the depth of what my heart has felt in all of this.  Thank you to everyone who played a role in this miracle.  You are PRECIOUS to our hearts, and we will never forget your "love in action."

Then sometime in the midst of the Grace Bear miracle, we also received an email from Reece's Rainbow, telling us that someone named Lauren wanted to help raise funds for our adoption and that she wanted us to contact her (that reminds me...there's no "contact me" button on this blog...I may get around to working on that someday!).  So, I emailed Lauren, and WOW what God blessed us with!  Lauren does not know me...we have never met...and yet we share the same heart for orphan ministry.  Somehow she learned about us and decided to go out of her way to help us raise funds for our adoption.  This touched us deeply.  It's precious when family supports our adoption...it's amazing and beautiful when friends support our adoption...but we were blown away that a person we had never met would go to quite a bit of trouble to help us in such a tangible way!  Really...what do you say when someone does something that will affect your life so greatly?!  We are so blessed!  Please visit Lauren's website (it's an incredible thing she's doing!) and spread the word! http://www.yourmobilegym.com/services.html And, Lauren, THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts (and I FINALLY got to blog it...YAY!).

If you think all of this is just wonderful, keep reading...I'm not finished yet!  :)

Also in the same time frame, we traveled to a nearby town to buy some yard sale items from a precious new friend named Elisabeth.  We recently met, and actually, though I didn't know her at the time, she is the person who sent out the original email about a "Hoe-Down for Downs" last fall...it's a ministry her family does every year to raise money for Reece's Rainbow's children with Down Syndrome.  That was the first time I had ever heard of Reece's Rainbow, and I fell in love with that ministry...and that's where we found our little Grace.  So, Elisabeth is special to my heart because God used her to bring us to Grace. A couple of weeks ago we met her and her family for the first time.  They had a yard sale to help them raise money for their own adoption (so of course, I HAD to buy when it helps someone else adopt!).  :)  She gave us great deals on some developmental toys as well as the cutest toddler slide that will be perfect for Grace.  And blessing of blessings...she sold us an EXACT MATCH little end table/dresser that matches a dresser my grandma bought me when I was a little girl (imagine finding the mate to it 30+ years later!!!).  We wanted a little dresser for Grace that matched her big sister's dresser, and there at a yard sale we found it!  Now, if you don't believe that God cares about the little details of your life, read that again!  Anyway, Elisabeth and I share a heart for orphans, and our minds and hearts run in similar tracks.  It was wonderful to meet her!  And she blessed us with some cute clothes for Grace, including the pajama set I posted a picture of...it is PRECIOUS...I can already imagine Grace in it!  And Elisabeth also gave us several bibs and burp cloths and other things to take to the orphanage when we go.  Not only did Grace get gifts, but now other orphans will have beautiful handmade gifts all the way from Georgia.  I cannot wait to give these to them!  THANK YOU, Elisabeth.  And if y'all want to "meet" Elisabeth, please see her blog...  http://www.nogreatergift.blogspot.com/

There are actually so many incredible things that have happened that it is entirely too much to blog!  But a quick run-down off the top of my head...  We had a check given to us from a lady in Wal-Mart who was in front of us in line and heard us talking about our adoption...we have had sweet people on limited incomes give us generous gifts to "bless Grace" (my heart just cannot tell you how humbling these gifts are to us)...a mom in our homeschool group recently emailed to tell me that her mom's Bible study group had collected $80 AND her son's Tae Kwon Do master is giving some money raised in a tournament to our adoption.  There are more stories, but I'm running out of time to type!  Chris said the other night, "OUR CUP IS OVERFLOWING!"  And I'm not kidding when I say that AS he was saying this, the phone rang and someone had called to tell us that they were giving us more donations.  God is SO good and cares so very very deeply for these children who are fatherless...He is truly the one who places them in families.  One thing this adoption journey has taught me in concrete terms is that it is GOD who places children in families...it has not been US doing this...we simply follow Him, and HE does the rest. 

As I type this, I am brought to tears AGAIN.  It's just so overwhelming to watch God put this whole thing together...it's like watching Him orchestrate this huge complex symphony...bringing this person to do this and that person to do that...all entering the symphony at the exact precise time they are needed...and all the little parts playing together seemlessly and beautifully...all unfolding to the finale when Grace is brought into our arms.  Really...God Himself, creator of the universe cares so deeply for this child that He is moving mountains to bring her home.  And He is full of mercy to go to great "impossible" lengths to place this treasure into our hands.  His Grace overwhelms me!!!

I've written a novel here, and I didn't even get to the part about our extra paperwork, our second trip to the county courthouse and the Secretary of State's office...and our latest update on Grace.  But that will have to wait for the next blog.  Right now I have to sign off and go work on a blanket I'm making.  Another unexpected blessing...someone who is adopting from the same orphanage asked us if we'd like to send a little care package for them to give to Grace when they travel, so I'm making her blanket earlier than expected.   Did I mention how GOOD God truly is?!   :)


Monday, May 11, 2009

Update...

It's been SO BUSY here lately!  I have so much I want to blog...about going to the Taiwanese Cultural Festival...and about the cute pajama set that someone gave Grace...so many details I want to catch up on.  But that will have to wait.  We are heading into a really busy week of MORE (and unexpected) paper work.  Just pray for us!  And I will catch up on blogging soon...so many neat things to share!  :)

I did want to jot a quick note to let you know that the bears that were donated to us last Wednesday were ALL SOLD on Friday!  I have no other explanation than to simply say that God put together some huge miracle.  So, for anybody who wanted to buy a bear, I apologize, but we are all out!  :)  

Let me tell you...  If God is calling you to do anything and you are afraid to step out onto "thin air," I can ASSURE YOU that God is faithful and will do more than you can imagine if you are walking in faith.  And if any of you have felt led to adopt a child but haven't (for any number of reasons), I'm here to tell you that there are miracles in adoption.  If God calls, step out...HE WILL TAKE CARE OF THE REST!  We are living proof of that.  Never in my entire life have I seen such obvious and visible signs of God's fingerprints as I have in this adoption journey.  

Please pray for us as we tackle extra paper work and a list of unexpected things to do this week.  Your prayers are powerful!

  

Thursday, May 7, 2009

GRACE BEARS!! :)


For everyone living in the north Georgia area, we have a sweet gift we are giving to people who make donations to Bring Home Grace.  If you go to GATEWAY ANTIQUES near the square in Dahlonega, you will be able to give donations to our adoption; and they will give you a beautiful GANZ brand bear (these are really nice bears!).  I'm posting a picture of the bears so that you can see them.  

For a donation of $5 or more, you will receive a small Grace Bear (this one has a gift card holder and makes a really sweet gift!).  For donations of $7 or more,  you will receive a medium Grace Bear (this one has an "I love you" pillow in his hands).  And for donations of $10 or more, you will receive a large Grace Bear (he is precious, with a heart-shaped pillow that says, "I love you, Mom").  ***While supplies last***

We apologize, but we can only give these bears away to people who live nearby and can come into the antique store. We cannot afford to ship them out of town.  :)

With all our hearts we thank Karen who DONATED all these bears to "baby Grace."  :)  We thank Wenda for finding a wonderful store who would help us out.  And we thank the owners of Gateway Antiques who generously offered to let us "set up shop" at their store for adoption donations (go shop there!).  :)  We are overwhelmed with such precious support.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!




Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Local adoption information

I just wanted to drop some information for any families who feel led to adopt an American-born child.  This is also a WONDERFUL way to step forward to provide forever homes for children who need a forever family.   There is a long waiting list of adoptive parents wanting to adopt an American-born baby with Down Syndrome.  BUT there are many other children in the United States who are in desperate need of forever families.  They deserve forever families.  It is my heart to advocate for ALL CHILDREN who need forever families. 

When we first stepped out to adopt, we pursued a foster adoption here in Georgia, but that door closed.  We were sad, but God in His infinite wisdom, already had our Grace waiting for us on the other side of the globe.   Who knew??!  :)   God knew...He always knows.  It's about HIM, so we all need to follow where He leads.

I have a wonderful friend who is instrumental in orphan ministry across the globe, and she once told me, "We have to pray for God's Will for these children.  He has a plan and a purpose for each child."  We have to seek our Heavenly Father's Will.  So, whether you choose to help a child here in Georgia, in another state in the United States or in another country, the heart of the matter is to follow where GOD leads.  For us that meant Taiwan; for others that will mean right in your own town or county.  EVERY child deserves the home God has planned for them.  EVERY CHILD.

I was reminded today that there is a huge need for CASA volunteers (court appointed advocates for children).Their goal is: Advocating for Safe, Permanent Homes for Abused and Neglected Children  If you are interested in helping in any way, please see http://www.enotahcasa.org/  

The following links (some national, some local) were provided to me this afternoon, and I wanted to pass them along.... 

 
www.nacac.org  This is a NATIONWIDE organization which helps children and families find each other.
 
www.adoptUSkids.org  Also sensitive to children's need for a family. 
 
www.adoptionhelp.org  Works to help pregnant women find adopting families and vice versa.
 
www.bethany.org  Christian based adoption agency and helps pregnant women with placement for their children
 
www.umchildrenshome.org  Has services for families which includes group, foster and adoptive homes.  Will also counsel on a as need basis both adopting families and children.  New office in Gainesville.
 
This is just for starters.  OF course there is the list of Georgia's waiting children which list children from 17-3.  

Newspaper article highlighting our adoption

Our local newspaper did a wonderful job of putting together an article about the Walk-a-Thon. I love our little town and our little newspaper. The reporter was very nice and did a wonderful job writing the article. We were so pleased. :)

I did want to make some minor corrections that could have been misinterpreted when we did the interview...

Grace is NOT in danger of being institutionalized in July. She is "on hold" for us and will be awaiting our arrival to the orphanage. She is so blessed to be in a good orphanage with caregivers who do their best to care for her. Many countries institutionalize children with Down Syndrome if they are not adopted before their 4th birthdays; however, we do not know what Taiwan's view is on that (this may or may not be how it works in Taiwan). All we know is that Grace's orphanage has cared wonderfully for her and is holding her for us until we can come get her. We are so blessed!! But for MANY MANY children, the clock truly IS ticking. If anyone reading this feels led to look into adopting one of these precious children, please go to www.reecesrainbow.com Also, if you will scroll down on our blog, you will see RUSLANA'S photo on the left side of the screen; she is in desperate need of her forever family stepping up to adopt her, as she is headed for institutionalization very soon. Ruslana is also available through Reece's Rainbow...she is on the page of At-Risk Girls.

For those readers who are new to our blog, welcome! You can find our adoption fund by clicking on Grace's photo in the upper left corner. You can donate online or can send in a check to Reece's Rainbow. All info is on that adoption fund page. THANK YOU to everyone who has been so supportive! And thank you to the newspaper for doing a wonderful article! :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Grace has a little friend named Lilly...

Grace and Lilly are at the same orphanage.  Though we live in different states, we have become online buddies with Lilly's parents, and we are all hoping to travel together to pick up our girls.  :)  Lilly's parents are hosting a "give away" drawing for a GORGEOUS quilt.  You can purchase tickets for the drawing, and all money will be donated to Lilly's adoption fund.  I told them that we'd put their information on our blog, so here it is...  Their blog address is http://www.weneedonemore.blogspot.com/  You can go to their blog to see the beautiful quilt and to donate into their adoption fund to help them bring their sweet Lilly home.  :)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Wonderful Walk-a-Thon!






Yesterday was our Bring Home Grace Walk-a-Thon, and we couldn't have had a better day!  We had 8 families who spent about a month collecting donations for our adoption fund.  Yesterday was the big day when we all came together at a beautiful local park for the walk-a-thon.  The weather was beautiful...nice and overcast...and the walk was a lot of fun!  We even had our friend Robbie bring his dog Winston all decked out in a cute bandana and a sign on his back that said, "Bring Grace Home."  Winston walked that mile for Grace too!  :)

We were overwhelmed by the support we had from our friends who worked so hard to collect donations.  And they all had such sweet encouraging words to share with us.  

We gave a fun Grand Prize gift bag to the Carter family, who collected the most donations for our adoption fund ($543!!).  The Carter family is precious.  They all have very sweet spirits.  And they also have a child who has an extra 21st chromosome just like our little Grace!  :)  So, they've been a big support and wealth of information for us.  In fact, yesterday at the walk-a-thon, they brought us a bag filled with binders of information about our local Down Syndrome Association.

We also awarded a 2nd place gift bag to the Nunley family who raised $270 and a 3rd place gift bag to the Peerson family who raised $250.  We were especially touched that both of these families had children who gave out of their own personal money.  I'm telling you...we have such sweet friends!

EVERY family who participated is so special and did such wonderful hard work, and in total, they raised $1719.  We gave each family a bright pink bag that says, "GRACE...it's amazing!"  My mom and dad found those bags in Texas and sent them especially for our walk-a-thon.  Chris's mom hand-stamped some bookmarks, greeting cards and candy bags for the walk-a-thon prizes.  And Chris's grandmother donated some prizes for the gift bags.  Such sweet help and support from EVERYONE!!  Thank you!

We had a bonus because the local newspaper was interested in our story, so they came out to the park to interview us and take pictures.  We pray that God will use this for HIS GLORY.  It is all about HIM!  We were also able to tell the reporter about Ruslana, who is a sweet little girl who has already been moved to an institution because she has not been adopted before the age of 4.  Time is of the essence because mortality rate is so high in these children who are transferred to institutions.  Please pray for Ruslana, and pray that her forever family steps forward for her soon.

Thank you again (and again!) to everyone who helped us with the walk-a-thon!  We have come so far by God's grace alone.  This adoption cost about $17,000 in total, and now we only lack $5481.  We have NO IDEA how God did that, but He did!  :)  It wasn't US, but HIM who made that possible.  It's truly a very real miracle!  We have no doubt that He will continue to provide every penny we need.  These are the fields of the fatherless we are working in, and God is busy at work in those fields.  He CARES deeply for these children, so He provides everything we need when we step up to love one of His children.  Adoption is truly a journey of miracles!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"We almost could have missed this!"

"In a defining moment in your life, you either step forward in faith and power or you step backward in fear." -James Arthur Ray

I saw this quote on another adoption blog, and it struck me because just minutes before I read that quote, I was thinking about something very similar.  In an adoption video created by Steven and Mary Beth Chapman, they say something that has rolled through my mind over and over.  When talking about the amazing journey of adoption, they said, "We almost could have missed this."  And I'm struck by that myself.  We almost could have missed this!!  

When we first learned of Reece's Rainbow's website, we could have looked at all those precious faces of special needs children who are waiting for forever families and then walked away.  It was a choice to either enter into a child's pain or to say a quick prayer and never look at those faces again.  How many other times in my life have I seen a need but then walked away, turned my head, wanted to DO something but felt powerless to help?  What would have happened if we would have let one of the dozens of concerns stop us (we don't have the money...we don't have a big house...we don't want to burden ourselves with therapy for a special needs child...we already have a "complete" family, etc etc etc...I'm good at excuses!)?  

What would we be doing today if we had not stepped forward to adopt one of these treasures?  I can tell you that we'd not be wondering where the remainder of our adoption fees were coming from nor going through the stress of putting together fund raisers.  In fact, we would have probably bought a big screen TV with our tax return money...we'd be snuggling up comfortably on the couch.  We wouldn't have had headaches with piles of paperwork, doctor's check-ups, fingerprinting, trips to the state capitol, fees for everything imaginable, etc.    And we probably wouldn't be aching with the deep pain that comes from entering into another person's suffering.  We'd be comfortable in our predictable life.  

BUT, oh my goodness, what an adventure we'd MISS!  What blessings we'd miss!  What closeness with our Heavenly Father we'd miss! What miracles we'd miss!  And what a precious TREASURE straight from God's Hands we'd miss (really...look at Grace's picture...I would NOT want to miss out on the joy of being her Mama)!  We are human, and we are creatures of comfort.  We seek the easy road...we seek the way of less pain...we seek comfort and predictability in life.  We could have very easily just walked away, and many times in life, we have walked away.  Very easily, WE ALMOST COULD HAVE MISSED THIS!  That thought is almost unbearable to me because though this road is filled with unpredictability, uncomfortable realities, twists and turns, sorrow and pain, it is also the most amazing adventure into God's beautiful LOVE and GRACE.  There is a peace and beauty on this journey that overrides everything else.  There's no other road in the world I'd rather be on!  And it's the road that my Jesus walked.  He willingly entered into my pain.  With unconditional love, He adopted ME.  May we continue to willingly and humbly submit to His Will.  

Thank you, Jesus, that You helped us not to miss this road to amazing Grace!  Lord, please give us strength in our weakness.  And help us to never take the comfortable road and miss Your plan and purpose for our lives, no matter what it may be!       

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Gearing up for the Walk-a-Thon

Four more days until our Bring Home Grace Walk-a-Thon!  If anyone else wants to sponsor our family in the walk-a-thon, please send us a check or donate online through our adoption fund (click on Grace's picture in the upper left corner of this blog).  Please keep in mind that online donations are anonymous, and we will not know whom to thank individually.  So, a big THANK YOU to everyone who donates!

Thank you to all the families who are collecting donations and joining us for our walk!  We are asking God to bless everyone who helps us bring Grace home.  :)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

New Pictures Arrived!





We love mid-month because the mail lady delivers Grace's new pictures!  Today was that day, and we all gathered around to oooh and ahhhh over little Grace.  :)

We have mixed emotions as we see her new pictures.  Sad to see her little sling and cast.  Happy to know that she's in a good orphanage with excellent medical care.

We are sharing 4 of the pictures they sent us today.  One shows her in her cast (not looking too happy).  :(  Two of the pictures are of her in her cast and sling (she is more chipper and seems to be saying, "No problem!!  This cast and sling don't slow me down a bit!").  :)  And one picture shows her after her cast was removed (she's really examining..."Well, lookie...there's my arm!").  Her arm is red from the cast.  :(  But the cast is OFF now!  :)  See what I mean about mixed emotions!

My Mama heart is YEARNING to go scoop her up and hug her and love on her and bring her home!!!  Four more months...four more months...four more months...

Keep praying for Grace.  Her Heavenly Father has her in the palm of His Hand.  She is one of His precious gems, and He is graciously leading us to her in His time.  Isaiah 45:3, "And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness--secret riches.  I will do this so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name."

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sling, cast and court papers!

It's been a week of ups and downs, but thankfully mostly ups!  :)  Our court papers were sent to our placing agency and then on to Taiwan.  They should arrive on Monday at the latest!  This is wonderful news for us because this officially starts our 4-month wait (approximately).  So YAY for our court papers being on their way!!!  We've been waiting for this moment for a long time.  :)

And then the down part of our week...  A couple of days ago we received a call from Julie (placing agency), telling us that she received the new pictures and update of Grace.  In her pictures, she has a sling and cast on one of her arms!  :(  Julie called the orphanage, and apparently Grace fell out of her bed and fractured her arm.  :(  My Mama heart was so sad, and I so desperately wished I could be there to hold her!  But, we are also very grateful that she is in an orphanage that provided her with immediate medical care.  God is watching over her.  Keep praying for Grace!  She's a busy girl!  :)

We were hoping to receive the new pictures of her today, but they didn't arrive.  Hopefully tomorrow...  We LOVE getting new pictures!!
       


Monday, April 6, 2009

Everything is Signed and Sealed!



We left the house at 9am and got home around 5pm.  Long day...but very productive.  We went to the county courthouse, Secretary of State's office and TECO.  It was a ton of paperwork and running around.  But everything went very smoothly.  We breathed a sigh of relief every time our paperwork would get the approval of one more official government worker, and we were SO relieved to finally hand in the final stack of papers and know that they are out of our hands.  We are FINISHED with paperwork! In about a week our papers should be sent to Taiwan to be entered into court.  The next step of our process is to WAIT for approximately 4 months as our papers proceed through court in Taiwan.  

It was a wonderful day...and unexpectedly fun too.  We ate lunch in a neat food court in the building where the Secretary of State's office is.  They had remodeled in December, and it was really fabulous...there was Starbucks, Chick-fil-a, Quizno's, as well as a salad bar, Mexican food area, etc.  We each got a cookie for dessert.  Then as we waited for copies of paperwork to be made, we walked the balcony area and had a fabulous view of the Capitol building across the street.  And then top all of that off with the neat "tubes" we walked through to the buildings, the enclosed over-the-street walkways, the rotating doors, escalators and elevators...well, let's just say we had fun playing in the big city!  :)

One of the pics is of our children in front of the window where we were looking at the Capitol.  The other pic is of us after we submitted our paperwork at the TECO office (very neat place, by the way!).  Did I mention we are FINISHED with paperwork??!!  Whooo-hooooo!!  Now, can we go get Grace????  :)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Official Referral!






We received our official referral!  :)  So, we have more pictures of Grace.  :)  These pictures are from the past 6 months or so.  And notice the picture of her standing...she is walking on her own and doing really well.  Isn't she a CUTIE??  Chris says we will need to get her a hair cut soon!  :)  

Our court papers got lost in the mail (more practice in patience!), but this morning they showed up at our post office (more lessons in God being in control!).  This afternoon we headed to get our paperwork notarized and authenticated.  It's a long story that I won't get into, but let's just say that I had never burst into tears like that in public until today (and not tears of joy this time)!   It had its iffy moments, but in the end we did get everything notarized (and then we headed to a restaurant to have southern cooking and relax my throbbing head!).  Authentication (both county and state) will take place Monday (prayerfully).  I'm really looking forward to having all of the papers out of our hands and into the hands of Taiwan's court system.  This has been a fairly smooth adoption, and we have been blessed that we have only had a few rough days in the 5 months we've been in process.  So I can't complain of the rough day.  God is good always.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Postponed a bit...

We were hoping to go to the capital today to have our court papers authenticated, but we had to order a few more bits of paperwork to go along with it. We are also still awaiting our court papers. It seems that they take longer to get to us out in the woods. :) We are hoping to be getting things wrapped up and submitted at the beginning of NEXT week.

We appreciate your prayers! We also need $1450 extra within the next week or so in order to pay the next step in the process. So keep praying! God is providing step by step. We fully TRUST Him.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Court papers on their way!!!

We got "the call" tonight! :)  :)  :)  Julie called to say that our court papers will be overnighted and should be here Wednesday.  We are thrilled!!  Thursday we will need to get a million papers notarized and then "authenticated" with the state seal.  Pray for us Thursday!

One BIG step closer!  This puts us at roughly 4 months from "Gotcha Day."  We're SO HAPPY!!  

Thank you to everyone who is donating into our adoption fund!  We don't know everyone who has donated, but please know that you have warmed our hearts and have profoundly affected our lives (and Grace's life).  We are praying God's blessings on you and your families!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

God is so GOOD! 

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Preparation

Amazing how we can pray fervently for something and then resist the very answer to our prayers! In the pre-dawn hours of today, my mind was awake and already pouring over the events of the past few months.  And that is when it struck me.  

See...one of our biggest heartfelt prayers right now has been, "Lord, please prepare Grace for our family, and please prepare us for her."  We will be walking into the orphanage (her home) and taking her from all she is familiar with.  We want it to be a smooth transition for her (we do not want to take her screaming from the orphanage!).  So, our prayer has been for God to really prepare her little heart to recognize us as a daughter recognizes her Mama and Daddy and to go with us without fear.  And I tacked onto our prayer a simple, "And please prepare us for her.  AMEN."

And as I lay in bed in the dark this morning, I began to see the string of events in our lives recently...  We were supposed to receive court papers within 2 weeks; it has been EIGHT weeks, and we are still waiting.  We are waiting on immigration papers.  We are awaiting word on an adoption grant.  I've spent many frustrating moments waiting on one of our children who has recently begun to take a much longer-than-needed time to do almost everything.  Another child has been extra sensitive emotionally lately and has been acting out.  Yesterday I found myself having to slow down longer than usual in a public bathroom (3 times!!) as one child had overalls on and had to unhook them and rehook them (an event that I'm convinced took hours...meanwhile we're in a hurry!).  Then the other day as I was attempting to sew an apron, the sewing machine decided to have a fit, and I couldn't figure out how to fix it.  I was almost in tears, and as my sensitive child hugged me, I said, "If I just knew HOW to fix it, I'd be okay...it's so frustrating to know how something is *supposed* to work but not to be able to do it."  And several times over the past few months, I've had episodes with my Kitchen Aid mixer...as I'm making the dough for bread, I keep forgetting to turn the speed down on the lowest setting before adding more flour...with it on a higher speed, when I add the flour, the flour hits the kneading hook and then puffs up in the messiest cloud of flour that lands on everything (everywhere except in the bowl, of course!).  I keep thinking, "UGH!  I need to remember to turn down the speed before I add the new flour!"  Haphazard crazy things that happen in normal everyday lives, BUT as I thought on all these things today, I realized that THIS is the answer to my prayer.  All of this is part of the preparation for Grace to join our home.

I'm reading The Connected Child, which is a FABULOUS book for adoptive families to read.  It helps prepare the adoptive family to successfully connect an adoptive child to the family (particularly one with special needs or one who has spent the first formative years of her life in an orphanage).  And as I began to read this book, I realized that Grace is going to need a family who is patient enough to walk alongside her as she takes the slower pace at many things.  She is going to need us to be patient and compassionate when she is extra sensitive emotionally.  She is going to need a family who can sympathize with how frustrating it feels to know how something is *supposed* to work but to not be able to do it yet.  

In all these rather irritating (and higly frustrating!) events we've been going through, God is gently guiding us toward a deeper compassion and insight that is preparing us for Grace.  He's showing us that if we turn down the speed on our "mixer," we will be able to add Grace to our family without creating a mess.  AMAZING how life's lessons are perfectly tailored for what God is preparing us for!  Even more amazing that we KICK at these very things that are creating in us what we have been praying so fervently for!

May I NOT kick any more!  May I submit humbly to my Heavenly Father's loving pruning shears, knowing that cutting back the branches produces beautiful fruit.  And may my fruit be lots of PATIENCE!!  :)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Announcing: Bring Home Grace Walk-a-Thon

Did I ever mention what GOOD FRIENDS we have?! :)  The Peersons are helping us put together an amazing walk-a-thon to help "Bring Home Grace!"  Homeschooling families are being invited to join us on April 30th for a walk-a-thon in a beautiful local park with a walking trail.  We have an INCREDIBLE grand prize gift bag worth about $150 (in gift cards and other prizes).  The grand prize will be awarded to the participating walk-a-thon family who raises the most money for our adoption fund (asking friends and family to sponsor them in the walk-a-thon).  (Must be present to win)  We've worked to make the process of getting sponsors very simple (we've created neat flyers and a simple sponsorship form). 

For those home schooling families who are reading our blog for the first time, WELCOME!  :)  We LOVE home schoolers around here!  :)  Please feel free to read our past posts to "catch up on our journey," not to mention looking at all our cute pictures of Grace.  :)  If you want to read a bit more about our story, you can click on Grace's picture in the upper LEFT corner of our blog; that will take you to our adoption fund page and our brief story.

If your family will NOT be able to join us for the walk-a-thon, I'm sure there will be other home schooling families who would love to have you as one of their sponsors to help them earn that Grand Prize!  :)  Or you can help us by donating directly into our tax-deductible adoption fund (click on Grace's photo in the upper LEFT corner of this blog).  EVERY donation, no matter how big or small, is truly a BLESSING to us and will impact Grace's life forever.  A little here and a little there really DOES add up!  In fact, if every person who hears about our adoption were to give just $10, we'd have all our adoption funds!  Amazing, isn't it?!  :)  

Thank you to the Peersons for all your hard work and sweet servant's hearts.  Thank you to all the home schooling families who will participate in our walk-a-thon (it should be a really wonderful event!).  Thank you to everyone who donates.  And thank you to everyone who is covering our adoption in daily prayer.  We've been encouraged by all the sweet support!  :)