Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Technology illiterate and too many ideas

I have so many thoughts about things that I want to write about. But most of them would be better with pictures. We just got a new fancy camera and I don't know how to use it. Doug is the photographer of the family and always has been. I love pictures but don't like to miss out on anything by standing on the sidelines. I also see the blogs that have the professional quality pictures and it really puts me to shame. So I guess I just showed my first weakness on the blog. I don't like to take pictures and I haven't had motivation enough to learn how to download them onto the computer, until now. I really want to tell you about our son that is on the International Folk Dance Team at BYU and the tour that they are going on through Northern California next week, but it would be so much better if I could put on some pictures so you could see how great it is. I had my 12 year old son take pictures of some of the process of doing Niya's hair, she is our 8 year old African American daughter, but I don't know how to get them off the camera. So many good ideas rolling around in my head but not enough knowledge or time to figure it out so I can do something with it. I have also seen some really good adoption videos that I would like to add for others to see. That may be something that I can figure out on my own. I just need to find them again.

So, here I am a middle aged woman that is typically very capable stuck in the generation gap. Sometimes I just feel like an old lady. It's sad that my children have to teach me how to use my phone every time I need more than to dial. Heaven forbid I have to text someone! Let me just pick up the phone and call, so much faster and easier. It has only been in the last two years that I have become comfortable with finding my way around the computer without getting completely frustrated. Now I know if all else fails wait for the kids to come home or call Doug at work.:)

The funniest thing about all this is the desire I have to get an IPad and and ITouch. Why do I think that I can learn those any better? I have discovered however, that I can be more organized and have all the info I need at my fingertips by having these pieces of technology. How great it would be to have the IPad on my wall at home with all the schedules, phone numbers, calendering, lists, notes and educational material for the kids. Then to synch it up with an ITouch that I can keep in my purse. That would be awesome. No more losing my Costco list or searching for the dinner menu that goes with the Costco list. I wouldn't have to stand at the dentist's office thoroughly embarrassed that I can't make an appointment because I don't know what's on my calendar. I wouldn't have to pretend that I remembered something that needed to be done. No more losing the lists of music the choir has sung over the last year so we don't repeat it. (I have made that list twice now and I can't find it again!) I want to write down thoughts and quotes that mean something to me and be able to find them again. I guess now I understand why everyone but me uses and loves technology. It just took this slow prideful brain to figure it out for itself.

Maybe I have made a breakthrough.... We better not hold our breath. I paid Ressa $20 to load my MP3 player that I got for my birthday a couple of months ago. Oh well.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Our Asian Adoption Story

Our story with our Chinese children started almost 7 years ago. I had just had a baby. That made 12 children for us. We had 7 children 5 and under at this point. I had a very full plate but loved it. Doug, my husband, was absolutely done and wanted some time for himself at some point in the future. We had been looking for a new home to fit the family for 18 months without much luck. Most large homes are not filled with bed space but extravagant living space. We had 3 children sleeping in our room and no where to expand. With all of this we were still paying off our last adoption and didn't like having the debt. I really understood where Doug was coming from and I had to agree. We were done!!! Isn't 12 children enough? That is not what our Heavenly Father thought. I had an experience that made me wonder if we had a little Asian girl that was to come to our family. I convinced myself that I was just making things up but still couldn't get it out of my mind. A few days later Ressa, who was 10, came to me and told me of an experience she had that was very similar to mine. I knew then that I had a little girl that needed to come to our family. I mentioned the experience to Doug. A few weeks later I then had another experience that told me with no doubt that we also had a little boy of Asian descent. I now was afraid to tell Doug. We had just found a house and were now in the process of buying, selling and finishing out 3,500 square feet of home, on our own, so we could move in. This is all with a baby under 3 months old. How do I tell him that he is not done with children?

My dear husband is a gem among men. I finally got the courage to tell him of my experiences and only a man of great strength and faith could have reacted the way he did. He listened, and then gave me his support. Of course, he would have loved to have backed out but his trust in me and faith in God allowed him to accept my experiences. Since that time we have been on a treasure hunt. We had a referral for Taiwan and the orphanage director decided not to allow us to adopt because of family size. We then submitted paperwork to China for a 4 year old little boy and were rejected for, what else, family size. We mourned the loss of the little one in Taiwan deeply and had to then take some time off. Doug was not ready for anymore rejection. I still could not get these children out of my head or heart and could not leave adoption alone. I said many times that I was done and couldn't go forward anymore. I then heard that Vietnam was opening back up. I talked with Doug and he said NO. He was not going there again. I worked on him for a while and finally we ended up with an agency for Vietnam. We had everything done and were waiting for our referral when signs of trouble started popping up. It wasn't too long until Vietnam adoptions closed down and we were out of luck. Our agency announced a new program that they were opening in another Asian country and gave us hope that we would still find our children. Vietnam was our last hope, there was no where else for us to go. As we waited I also started looking at domestic adoptions again. I loved my black kids and couldn't understand why these children had to be Asian why not just do what I already knew. I found a situation that was full Vietnamese and it looked promising from what the agency was telling us. A few weeks later we found out that the birth mom chose to keep the baby. We went through this a few more times and decided to give up for good.

While we were in the process of looking at Vietnam we found out I was pregnant. We were so excited. This pregnancy was touch and go. There was a great possiblity that we would lose the baby. At 30 weeks that doctor finally said "It looks like we are having a baby." We knew this was my last baby and that I could not have any more. We figured after all the heartache, money, and time spent that we were done with children and this precious little girl was God's way of making it up to us. He let us know however, that we still had children to come and that they were the ones I had been looking for. I began to have hope again but at the same time felt a constant emptiness in my heart and a bit of resentfulness that we had to go through this. I prayed many, many times for the feeling to go away. I have shed thousands of tears for these children. I can not count how many times I promised Doug that I was done. I was not looking any more! I got off adoption boards and banned myself from looking at anything adoption related on the Internet.

One day in September I received an email from a person with our Vietnam agency telling me that China was loosening things up. It caught my interest but I just couldn't believe it. That same week I had two more exposures to China adoptions that were unsolicited. I had to start thinking of it then. I decided to call a couple of agencies to find out about this. I had very good response. I then got the courage to talk to Doug about it. I didn't know what he would say. We had just come off of a financial crisis and were now getting our feet under us again. He didn't have a negative reaction but he also knew from experience that he could not stop this crazed Mom. Basically, he didn't believe that adopting from China was even an option. I tread the waters with him carefully while at the same time having some guarded optimism. I think there are a couple of agencies out there that must think I am the most skeptical person in the world. How could I believe that I may be on the verge of finding my children after all we had been through. I was not willing to put my heart out there fully again and trust another agency after being burned before.

The time of discovery felt like a long process but in reality it was about 6 weeks until we found our sweet little princess and a month later received preliminary approval for our son. What a miracle this journey has been. I really wish that I had listened to people and taken the time to write my story. It would make people laugh, cry and rejoice. I still don't have the answers to many of my questions. I thought that maybe some things would come together to show us the purpose of parts of this experience but we still don't know God's thoughts. Maybe some time in the next life we will have a greater understanding. I do know that through our challenges in life we have been blessed with greater things than can be imagined. We are being molded into people that we may not have chosen to be if it was left up to us alone. I like who we are becoming and it is through our sorrows and struggles that we have been refined the most. The beauty of all of it is that God keeps his promises. We have found our little ones and in the process He has opened our hearts to understand that serving his children and dedicating our lives to his work is where we will find our greatest joys.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Our little Princess


I wanted to add a picture of our sweet little girl. I will add our story later. It's just too late right now and I really need some beauty sleep.
I'm finally back. Life sure comes at us fast and very often with great intensity. I truly believe that we all have the abilities to handle the challenges given to us. The problem that I have is knowing when it's OK to say no.
I have really wanted to introduce our sweet little princess. She was born in September of 2008. That makes her 2 years old. Her need is one that is very manageable but she will always be visibly different than others. I would not normally announce this to the world but I feel it is better for those that will meet her to be prepared and not noticeably stare. She is missing some fingers and toes but can function as any other child. She has both thumbs so she will be able to do anything that is required of her. We still don't have a name for her. We are desperately looking and can't seem to come up with just the right name. There are many that I like. I have pictures of both kids taped to our computer desk in the main room of the house. Next to these pictures are sticky notes with names that we like and their meanings. Some have made it onto numerous sticky notes but it is so hard to choose. The name the agency chose for her for paperwork purposes is Mandy. I like the name but I wanted to name my own child. However, the meaning of Mandy is perfect. it means "Deserving of Love". This sweet little one is most definitely deserving of love.
For those that do not know how China Special Needs adoptions work right now, the first thing you need to know is that the process is emotionally daunting. I jumped in with both feet. I began by joining an advocacy group for China special needs children. On this group there are children that are posted that are available for adoption. You can also have access to the full list of children that are ready for adoption. In both cases you need to request a file from your agency to have access to medical info as well as the little bit of information available on the child's development and special need with a picture. I started to go through the list by need and decided that there were too many children that I would still be interested in. I had to come up with another method. Because I thought that we were getting our boy first I focused on boys. It is so hard to see these names, dates and special needs and decide on which child to look at. I requested files at first just to see what I would be looking at and get some exposure to the process. I had no intention on finding a child in the beginning because our Social Worker was out of the country for a month and we couldn't even start the process until she got back.
During the process of educating myself I requested some children's files and looked through them. With each one I knew they were not my child or Doug would say no for one reason or another. Most of his reasons came down to it being bad timing. He wanted to wait until the end of the year so we could get some activities behind us and have more money. He was pretty stressed out . This started about the middle of October. Each time that I had to let an agency know that we could not adopt a specific child I felt like I was rejecting that child and that some how that translated into them not being good enough for me. I felt horrible and I hated every minute of it. It was so draining I had to stop looking for a couple of weeks. During the initial phases of looking at files I had seen little Mandy on the advocacy group and requested to see her file from the agency. They put us on the waiting list. I was told there were several families that were ahead of us. With this agency each family has one week to review the files and make a decision. Because little girls are the most sought after, the younger the better, I just put her out of my mind. I figured that we had no chance, but boy did I really want to see her file.
I was counseled and then decided to find an agency before we find a child. I had made up my mind that we were going to use one agency. I had really liked them for many years and was excited to finally be able to use their services. I just needed to wait for our Social Worker to get back into town so that we could start the homestudy update and submit our application. I had asked the agency if they would possibly allow us to adopt two children at once and at first they were very positive. As time went on they pulled back. I was feeling more and more anxious about having the option open to adopt two children together. I preferred to do one at a time for adjustment and bonding purposes but could not let go of the thought of two children at once so I knew the door had to be open. I made a couple of calls to my number 2 and 3 choice of agencies. I called one of these agencies and had a positive response but was not totally satisfied. The next day I called the other agency. I talked with Marci the social worker knowing that she is the one to make the final decision. We went through our family history and situation and she felt positive about us doing dual adoptions. At the end of that part of the conversation she said that I was the next person on her list to call. Mandy's file was available and we were the next on the list if we would like to review it. This was 5 weeks after we were put on the waiting list. I just could not understand how a young girl could have been on waiting list and still be available, especially one as cute as Mandy. It was amazing to me how it all came together but I didn't want to read anything into it.
I received her info through email that hour and reviewed it. We had one week to contact doctors and make a decision. I talked with Doug about it. He didn't say no so I pressed forward calling doctors and getting as much information as possible. Doug and I talked about it a few times and he promised to ponder and pray about it. From signs that I was seeing from him I knew that he was not doing this. One night we sat in bed and I asked what he thought. He had the same excuses and admitted that he had not prayed. I was feeling a desperation for some reason. I did not have a witness of my own that she was our daughter but I just could not bring myself to turn her down. I told Doug that if this was a no he had to do the dirty work because I just couldn't do it this time. There are not words to express the depth of feeling that I had and I didn't understand it. I stressed and cried and wanted out. On the fifth night Doug finally admitted to himself that he had to face this and agreed to taking time the next day to think it through. After work the evening of the sixth day I let him know that it was now that we had to come together but if the answer from him was no then he had to make the call. I had been doing a lot of pondering myself and realized that I was relying in him to make the final decision because I did not want to be responsible for a bad mistake. The mistake I was afraid of was pushing my husband into something he didn't want but did it anyway because he had a desire to please me. I know people that have put children before their marriage and ended up in divorce and I was not going to be one of them.
We talked over the situation and through our conversation I felt a coming together no matter what the final decision was. I finally asked him what he thought and he hesitated and said that when I first told him about Mandy that he had a different feeling but didn't want to acknowledge it. I wanted to be sure that I was hearing what I thought I heard and made him clarify. I then asked him if this meant he wanted to go forward. The answer was yes. I was amazed. I had a good feeling about China and trusted that I was on the right path and now I may have found my daughter. The next day I called the agency and we submitted our Letter Of Intent to China. In 7 days we got our approval back. I figured because we had such a large family it would take a while for the CCAA to review our information but it was very quick. I only told one person about it, and she was someone that I didn't know well, because I was still not ready to believe this was real.
We were excited but still very hesitant. Our agency kept reassuring us that this was going to happen if all the final paperwork looked good and there was no reason that it wouldn't. We got everything done as fast as possible and are now in the waiting phase. We still need to get our dossier, or paperwork, to China for our official approval to be absolutely sure. But at this point I have no hesitation or fear. Things seem to be coming together fairly easily. If all goes well we hope to travel some time this summer to pick them both up.
What a glorious day that will be! Okay, it will be two separate days because they are in two different provinces. We expect to be in China 3 weeks getting all the official paperwork done. We will get to experience things that I have wanted to see and do for many years and at the same time bring our children home.
I know that most people will be asking if we are done. We are leaving the door open. I know that China will leave it's mark on our hearts and having witnessed the great need for loving families I don't think that we will ever be able to say no more. We are open to whatever we are asked of God to do no matter the sacrifice we have to make personally. I am very confident that all of our children will welcome in any that need our support and love. I have an amazing family and none of this could be done without each person being supportive and enthusiastic.

Our Little Boy


Here He Is! Our precious little boy. He turned 3 in November and is now waiting for us in China. We have not officially chosen a name for him yet but we are certain that we will not be using his Chinese name. As we have been searching for names and hoping that we could find a Chinese one that we like we found a few that we thought may work. However, while trying it out realized that the name just wouldn't work for one reason or another. The latest one was Bo. I thought it was a good name until someone asked how you spell it. I said "B.O." Well at the laughter I realized that was not going to work so well. So goes the Chinese name this cute little boy has. It is not a name that any good mother would allow their child in America to have. No his name is not BO.
We found this little guy through a Yahoo Group that advocates for the waiting children in China. We had found our little girl but knew that we still had a boy to find. After much consideration and a deep urge to go and find him I began to look. I was a bit afraid to ask Doug what he thought, because at the moment one was still a bit uncomfortable for him. I couldn't blame him though. We are a family with 10 children still at home asking a country that has already turned us down in the past to adopt a second child. China had just opened up their policy to adopting two children at one time and we knew it could be a no. We have had enough no's in regards to adoption that we were very gun shy. I still couldn't get the desire to go away to bring two children home at once. This time however I decided to go with what I desired. My desires were to find a child that was being helped or supported by an organization in the US. I had no reason for this, that is just what I wanted to do. I started to look at some web pages of these organizations and requested information from people affiliated with the children. Because of the Advocacy Group I had been keeping up on the blog for Love Without Boundaries I had previously seen a little one they named Brenden. He was adorable and I saw a light in his eye. What really caught my attention was the post they had written on him. They titled it Prince Brenden. Our family has focused for many years on the reality of each child being a child of God, which makes them a Prince or Princess. So I am naturally drawn to those terms. I read through his bio and thought what a cute child. We were still in process with the paperwork for Pre Approval from China for our little girl when I saw him so I just put it out of my mind, or at least I tried.
When I went on the search for a son I contacted someone on our Yahoo Group that works with LWB, Love Without Boundaries, about any little boys that were available that their organization supports. I sent her a list of all the children we would be interested in. She very quickly sent back a short list of names and amazingly Brenden was on it. I was surprised. I read through the few bios again and decided to request the file on Brenden. My Social Worker at our agency was out for a week so we had to wait. I was getting very anxious knowing that others had expressed interest in Brenden as well and anyone in the world could request this child at any time. I had to tell myself that if he was mine then the Lord would make it all work out. The first thing Monday morning when the Social Worker got in she locked his file for us and sent us the info. She was awesome, we had not talked with her, just sent a simple email. As we read through the little bit of info that we were given, and most of the time it is a year old, we decided that his need was something that we could handle. I talked with Doug but didn't want to push. To my surprise he was open. I had been giving little hints about a second child and how much I liked this one, but nothing big. The next day I was walking out of the room and I just couldn't hold it in anymore. I turned around and said "I want Brenden". Doug smiled and said "OK". My reaction was "Really?". I got a yes and that was that.
I emailed the contact person I had with LWB and let her know we were going forward. I was so excited but a bit reserved because we still had to get China's approval. Before we even sent our letter to China requesting to adopt Brenden we had more pictures and updates from other people that had recently been to his orphanage. Our agency warned us to expect questions from China and that it may take some work for our approval. 6 days after sending our letter in, and not questions asked, we heard back from China that we had been pre approved to adopt this little boy. I had feelings that he was the child we had been searching for but now I could let myself really feel and I admitted to myself that he was the little boy we had been longing for and I know with no doubt that he is ours. You can see Brenden's bio by going to lwbcommunity.org and typing in Brenden in the search at the top right.
The whole family is so excited. When we see little children the kids will ask if we can go pick up our kids. It has been hard for them to understand that we have to wait. It has been hard for me to know what is going on in the orphanage and the lack of nurture and stimulation that is there. My children need us and it is hard to sit back and do nothing.
We are hoping that we can go get the children before the summer is up. We will be picking both of them up at the same time. If all works out well Ressa will be coming with us. She will be a great help and I am excited to share this journey with her. This journey began partially because of her.
Tomorrow I will post about our little princess and add a picture as well.
Deanne

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Litte Bit About Us

When you have the amount of people in a family that we do it's hard to know where to start. I have decided to start with the basics and go from there. Hopefully in the near future I can make a post about each individual child. They all have some truly amazing gifts to offer our family and the world. I am a proud mother! People always say that if they had kids like mine they would have had more too. Not to fool anyone though, they are human, OK, maybe not Ressa or Tyler, or Sereen, or Creed, or Britt or Pierce or Hannah or Casey or even Niya, Marshall, Emma, Clayson and definately not Malia. Oh, sorry that would mean they are all perfect!;)

Our family is unique to say the least. We have 13 children. To answer the next question, 9 biolocigal and 4 adopted. Yes, they are all ours we do not run a daycare. Tyler is our oldest son. He is in college and dances on their International Folk Dance Team. We are excited for him because he will be going to Eastern Europe for a three week tour this summer. Sereen just go married this summer to a fantastic guy. She is pretty awesome and married her equal. They both will graduate in the Spring and are anxious to get on to the next stage of life. They will do so well together! Britton is serving an LDS mission in Brazil. He will be gone for 2 years. He left in Aug and I am really starting to miss him. Ressa is waiting to find out if she made it into the college of her choice. She is pretty nervous but has nothing to worry about. She is pretty close to perfect (so are the other kids, she is just my right hand right now). She will be leaving the nest in the fall.:( Creed has a few more years left at home and will do a great job of being the oldest. As number 5 he has not had to take on a lot of responsibility. I am so glad that he will have the opportunity to shine. I have full confidence in him and will treasure the relationship as is grows and changes. The kids love him! Pierce, what to say about such an exceptional person. I'm not even exagerating. He is a peacemaker and is always the first to jump when something is needed. Children love Pierce because of his gentle spirit. Hannah is one of our greatest blessings. It is through her that our hearts were softened and confidence started to grow that we were capable of more. She is a little mother with all the leadership skills that a mother of many would need. Casey is a child that we waited 12 years for. He is African American and a happy go lucky kind of guy. His smile is infectious and is friends with everyone. There is not a person he doesn't count as a friend. Niya is African American as well. She is a natural gymnist. By the time she was two she had taught herself how to do a cartwheel. Shes gone on from there and can do things that I can't even dream about. She has been very shy but is starting to blossom. Marshall is also adopted. This child has a brain that does not stop. Some day he will make a mark that can not be erased, (I didn't mean the permanent marker that is still on the carpet and faintly on the door from 4 years ago.) Emma is also adopted and has Down Syndrome. She is a loving girl that would love to stay little all her life if her mean mother would let her. No such luck this mom believes we all have potential and a responsibility to reach the best we can be no matter what that level is. We love Emma. Clayson is our bio red head. He is everything a red head is touted to be. With that fire comes great happiness and a tender good heart. Malia is our youngest right now. She will be starting school in the fall. I had a freind tell me that she feels peace when Malia is around. That is very true. She is a happy fun pure little girl.

We have been searching for over 6 years for our little ones. We have known that there were at least2 Asian children missing from our family. It has been a difficult, expensive and time consuming process. We count our blessings for the road we have been on. I don't questions much any more why that road. I like the highway of life better some times but then we would miss all the road bump, pot holes and beautiful scenery. We have now found our 2 chidlren!!! They are in China and we are very anxious to get our babies home to give them the love, nurture and security that they need. We have not chosen names yet so I will call them our boy and our girl for now. Our boy turned 3 in November and is being supported to some degree by a group called Love Without Boundries. He is a precious little one that shines his light through his smile. Our Girl is now two and her birthday is in September. My heart breaks for her because she looks so sad and alone. I will check to see at what point I can post pictures of these two little ones.

We have been so blessed in our lives. We have a wonderful family and the means to care for them. We never anticipated that when we bought our 15 passanger van with baby number 7 that we would fill it to overflowing. We now have an awesome bus that is great for traveling. We have space at our home to spread out and play as well as learn to garden. The operative word there is learn (I am a miserable failure to this point). I haven't quit trying though. We have plenty and to spare in this life and give all the credit to our loving Father in Heaven. We would not be the people we are without his trust and help. He has made much more of our lives than we could ever have.

As I write, I am excited to let everyone see into our lives. I love people and friends and have found so many wonderful people in this world that I want to connect with. Maybe through this I can make some eternal friends. That is my hope. I guess now is the time to get over my fear of posting on Yahoo Groups and commenting on the blogs I love but they have no idea I am even there. It's time to quite being invisible and live life more openly, without fear.

Deanne

P.S. I would love some tips on what is safe to put out there and what is not. I have already decided that making fake names won't work for me because I will forget who is who.