Sunday, March 31, 2013

On the Homefront - We Got Egged!

We have some great family and friends! Mom and Dad have only been gone for a couple of days and we have had a lot of help and kind words and deeds from various people.

This Easter I (Tyler) asked all of the kids if they would prefer to baskets now or wait for Mom and Dad to get back. The vote was overwhelmingly toward not waiting. So that night at about midnight Will, his girlfiriend Alina, Jessica, and I went to work putting the baskets together (Creed and Pierce may have been a part of it as well). When we were done wit the hiding I realized that we were missing chocolate bunnies! I think this may be the first year we have not had some kind of bunny in our baskets.

In the morning all the kids went through the normal routine of trying to find their baskets. Of course many of them looked almost right at the basket but didn't look hard enough to find it. It was rather funny. The kids didn't seem to mind or remember their were no chocolate bunnies though, maybe I am the only one that cares about them.

On Sunday morning however we woke to a great surprise! Someone had set out twelve chocolate bunnies on our front porch and put a ton of plastic eggs filled with little toys and candy all over our front lawn. There were even some hanging from the trees! I took a video of it all but for now I am just going to put some of the pictures I took with my phone.

Hefei Supplement

After going to bed we realized that there were a few things we wanted to say but were so tired that we forgot. Sorry the last post rambled. I just couldn't think straight. :) We decided this morning that flying at night was better for the time change so hopefully the same applies on the way back and we do better than the last trip.

We missed Easter here in China. We even forgot that it was Easter until we walked into the lobby of the hotel in Beijing. This is what we saw.

The eggs on the tree were hand painted. They looked a little like what we would attempt at home if we hand painted our eggs. 

 The bunnies were so cute. I just wanted to pick one up and cuddle with it. It's tempting to get a bunny but the problem is they grow up.

I was instructed to prepare 6-8 gifts, at least that's what I was thinking. Our guide instructed us to have 4 ready. One for the orphanage director another for the person who brings Gideon and two for officials that do notaries and something else, I forgot. That makes 4 gifts. I brought 8 pounds of Jelly Bellies and 6 pounds of caramels. I always do more than needed so I am prepared. I had 10 gifts and thought that we would give one to Richard in Guangzhou. I will also bring one for the Foster Family in hopes that we can see them but we don't know. We are also told that we will see the director the the healing home where Gideon stayed for a while and have been directing his medical care. That leaves 4 more gifts. Yummy. I had to re bag the Jelly Bellies because all the bags broke in the trip. I don't know why but I brought all the extra bags. I didn't intend on bringing them. A Tender Mercy from the Lord. 

 Dad's glad we didn't have to use all the Jelly Bellies and he thinks Gideon might be too. Hyrum and Bria loved them in China when we picked them up and wanted to make sure that Gideon would have some, now there are plenty. 

Thanks Sereen for coming over on Friday to help. You were a God send. I really needed the help as well as the stability you offered. She helped me to make the awesome caramels.

2 hours until we go. I'm feeling more faithful this morning but realized how deep my fears were when I woke up with a nightmare that I went back home and left Doug here to pick up Gideon because I didn't feel good. He followed me home and in my dream I realized that there was no
one there for Gideon. I woke myself up crying.

If Myriam or our social worker is reading this, trust me, I'm doing fine. I just have to deal with a demon that has been haunting me for a year and a half.
My take on this kind of things is, we all have demons and prejudices. If we admit them and deal with them we are more healthy emotionally for it. It's when we don't admit to ourselves or others that we have these fears or prejudices then we never improve and are not the best parents we can be.

Now you se,e I so want to be real and let others know that we are all the same and in this together.

Leo is still on my mind and the grief is deep. How I wish there was some way for us to bring him home.

In Hefei

I learned something very valuable over the last couple of days. Take a direct flight into Guangzhou!  It may cost more but that layover in Japan then again in Beijing was NO FUN!! We got to the Narita airport and could find no information about where to go. The Delta people need to overhaul things in Japan. We questioned where we were supposed to be almost the whole time of our layover. We then had to wait an extra hour and twenty minutes for our flight which put us in Beijing past midnight. I really hope that doesn't happen on the way home. After staying in Beijing for the rest of the short night we flew into Hefei.

We met up with our guide and took care of some paperwork and went to the bank. Once in our hotel room we prepared the money for fees and put together the gifts for the officials in preparation to meet Gideon in the morning. We will meet the guide at 9:00 am and go the Civil Affairs Office to pick up our son at 10:00. I have been so nervous about this part.

When we picked up Hyrum and Bria I was nervous but nowhere near this nervous. I think the difference is I have lived what I may be getting into. I knew what to expect and had adopted an older child before but I wasn't emotionally prepared to have a child despise me the way Bria did. I just kept coming back to that as I got more and more sleep deprived. When your overly tired is not a good time to think, about anything. Turn on those movies and veg. :)

All I wanted to do was curl up in my bed and go to sleep. Not possible when you are more than 5,000 miles from home. I wanted to hold my kids and never let go. Most of all I just wanted my Father in Heaven. After getting some sleep in Beijing I have felt much better but I still fight the nervousness. I'm sure that will disappear once we have Gideon in our arms. Not because I think it will be easy but the hardest part will be behind me. Our "Gotcha" moment. Most people think this is the best part but for me the best part comes a year later when you realize you adore your child and are ever grateful that they are yours. When your child feels like your child and not a little stranger that you hope you can love the right way for them to heal and trust you one day.

Now for some light heartedness. I just wanted to give an idea for gifts that all of us adoption wonder about. We chose to give Jelly Bellies with a menu. We picked up some menu’s last summer while we were on a tour of the factory for my sister to use for her adoption. I decided to get some extra just in case I might need them. They are Mandarin so it's perfect. I also made some caramels to go with it. Hyrum and Bria love caramels so I thought that might be something fun to do. I hope it goes over well but if not, I won't ever know about it. I took some pictures so I could remember later what we did.

Jelly Bellies and caramels.
To My Awesome kids, I miss you all so much. Be strong and always remember Jesus. We will try to Skype on Tuesday night. I can’t wait to talk to you. Make sure to remember what you are doing so you can tell us all about what is going on at home. We really love you and are praying for you. 

Dad already zonked out and I won't be too far behing him! 
You can also see that the agency arranged to have a crib brought in for Gideon.

Friday, March 29, 2013

We're (almost) On Our Way

It is now 12:00 am and I am still up. I swore I wouldn't do this but here I am. I thought I would let you know that we leave at 6:00 am for the airport. We are so excited to be getting Gideon!!! It has seemed unreal today that we were leaving to go to China. Everyone seemed happy but at moments a little melancholy. Once the children went to bed it was my turn to fight the sadness of leaving the kids. I know all will be well but I will really miss them. Leaving my children for so long causes me to recognize how much I love them and the relationship we share. They are my best friends. All of them from the 4 year old to the 25 year old and all in between.

Preston and Sereen were over today helping me to get ready and as they left little Preston waved goodbye. I realized that I would be half way around the world and I thought to myself "don't die while I'm gone, I'll really miss you." Ok, I better stop now. I am already starting to tear up and I'm not even walking out the door yet.

It will be a few days until we can post but as soon as we get to Hefei I will update.

Have a Great Day!!!

P.S. I have to say how much I love working with Myriam at Agape and we are so excited to meet Richard in Guangzhou. They have made this the best adoption we have had. Remember this is adoption number 8 with a few other agencies sprinkled in when we didn't end up with a child for one reason or another.

Monday, March 25, 2013

God Manages the World With Babies

“A century ago [in 1809] men were following with bated breath the march of Napoleon & waiting with feverish impatience for news of the wars. And all the while in their homes babies were being born. But who could think about babies? Everybody was thinking about battles.
In one year between Trafalgar and Waterloo there stole into the world a host of heroes: Gladstone was born in Liverpool; Tennyson at the Somersby Rectory; and Oliver Wendell Holmes in Massachusetts. Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky, and music was enriched by the advent of Felix Mendelssohn in Hamburg.
But nobody thought of babies, everybody was thinking of battles. Yet which of the battles of 1809 mattered more than the babies of 1809? We fancy God can manage His world only with great battalions, when all the time he is doing it with beautiful babies. When a wrong wants righting, or a truth wants preaching, or a continent wants discovering, God sends a baby into the world to do it.”{F.M. Bareham as quoted by Spencer W. Kimball}

How easy it is for me, and everyone, to forget what  this life is about, but God never does. It is so important to remember that the children are the future and we never know when one of the valiant and great sons or daughters of God are orphans, left without a family. Or we may have been already trusted with one of these great spirits in our own home and because of the challenges that life brings may have forgotten who they really are. We have even forgotten who we are and get lost in the world. 

We truly are the sons and daughters of God. He does not forget us and always keeps us in the palm of His hand. I am so grateful for this knowledge and sweet peace that the Spirit brings into my life. It is through this remembrance and peace that I can go on and accomplish that work for me to do. I am grateful that I am trusted to bring our precious Gideon home and be his mother. What a blessing this is for our whole family. Gideon is one of the "Noble and Great Ones". Born in the year 2011 amidst world strife and economic turmoil,  God sent Gideon to do His work here on this earth. In one week you will no longer be an orphan my son.

4 more days and we are on our way to China!  There as so many things to do and the list just keeps growing. We are doing everything necessary to get us to China and if the rest doesn't get done then my poor older kids will have to take over under less than ideal circumstances. Sorry in advance, Tyler and Jessica, and Jared and Sereen. I will do my best but the hole in the entry wall will still be there when we get back. (I know, that shouldn't even be on the list)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Travel Dates

After a lot of time on the Internet and the phone, including at 1:00am, we have purchased our international tickets to China! We leave on Friday the 29th at 8:25am. We are going the roundabout way with a layover in Portland, Japan and Beijing. We will reach the province of  Anhui Sunday the 31st. It is so good to have that portion of the preparations over with.

We did the booking on our own to save some money. We talked with a travel agent and what she quoted was quite a bit higher than what we were able to get on our own. In the end we booked with Delta and paid $1,250 round trip to Beijing. That was a great price! Our agency will book the in country flights for us. We expect that will add about $1,000 more to the travel costs but in the end we will pay the same for all travel as we would with just the international portion through the travel agent.

We had to wade through some not very friendly customer service agents and price changes in the middle of booking flights before achieving our goal. We ended up calling Delta customer service back for the 5th time and getting a great  agent that was able to reduce our fare by finding better flights than what we saw online. I wish I knew this guys name so I could send him a thank you. He was great! We don't usually fly with Delta, not that we really fly much anyway outside of adoption, but they had the best rates we could find. We check our bags at the beginning of our trip and pick them up in Beijing. That will be so much easier that how we had to do things last trip.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Waiting on a Consulate Appointment

We had a consulate appointment set for the 9th but that was not going to be enough time to get all the paperwork from the province. Myriam is having to reschedule and this is getting just a little complicated. We are waiting on a confirmation for the 11th of April because the 10th was full. Once we have the confirmation we can pay for plane tickets. We will now be getting back home on Saturday the 13th with our precious son.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Good News


Our TA came in today so now we can start making some solid travel planes.
We most likely will travel on the 29th of March and come back somewhere between April 9-12.
This is so exciting!
I will post more of our travel plans when we firm things up.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

In Hyrum's Words

A couple of months ago I had this conversation with Hyrum. I wrote it down so that I didn't forget.

I was drinking some water as Hyrum stared at me. I thought I should ask him if he had gotten much water in the orphanage because he is always drinking.

Mom, "Did you get water in China?"

Hyrum, "Little, I crying, bad guy get me."

Mom, "Where was I?"

Hyrum, "At home, 4 times I crying  say mama come get me."

Mom, "Are you better now?"

Hyrum nods his head and says, "I home"

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

An Adult Daughters Perspective of Our Large Family

    Being a member of a large family

I have been asked many times “what it is like to have such a large family.” Another common question is “how do your parents have enough time for each of you?” Or “do you or any of your siblings feel neglected by your parents?”  

I have really been considering these question for a while now. There is no hidden message or hint to anyone in this post. These are just my thoughts as I have pondered what it means to be a part of our family.

 I love my family and wouldn't trade it for the world. There is not a single one of my siblings that I could dream of wishing were a part of a different family or more horrifically have no family at all. Yes, I have had moments where I wonder what my life would be like if I came from a more averaged sized family. I certainly wouldn't have as easy of a conversation starter. Maybe it is true that Mom and Dad aren't able to give us the same one on one attention that a child from a family of 3 or 4 kids would have but is that a bad thing? No one can doubt that we are each loved individually by our parents, we have been taught what is right, they know what each of our individual needs are, they make sure those needs are met. Isn’t that what is most important? Sometimes making sure our needs are met means sending a sibling to help figure out the math problem, or asking us to reach out a hand of friendship, or even teaching us to love each other so we can be there for each other without being asked. 

Families aren't just made up of parents and their children. With it being the parents full responsibility to meet all of the needs of each of their children. Families are made of parents, children, brothers, sisters, daughters, and sons. Think about what each of those titles mean and the responsibilities that come with it. Parents are there to love, teach, and guide. Then we can all work together to meet each other’s needs on every level.

Our family is much like our spirit family. It is not uncommon to hear in Sunday school lesson or a conference talk that we need to be God’s hands. He can’t physically be there for every one of his children at all times. Yet, there is no doubt he loves each of us and takes care of every one of our needs. He accomplishes taking care of our needs by sending his children to care for our brothers and sisters. 

Being a part of a large family has played a big role in shaping who I am today. It has helped me better understand our role in our larger spirit family and our responsibility to help our brothers and sisters. I have a better understanding of what it means to be a part of a whole family unit where we all work together. 

Mom and Dad adopting two more boys this year is not just adding two more to our family and all the sacrifices that will come with it. It is caring for two more of our brothers and taking care of our Heavenly Father’s children. It is all of our responsibility to be there for each other both in our immediate family and our spirit family. 

What is it like being a part of a big family they ask? It’s the best thing I could ask for. Because our parents have raised us in righteousness I better understand my worth, my responsibility as a daughter of God, and my responsibility as a daughter of Doug and Deanne.  I am less concerned about myself (don’t worry I still have selfish moments, I’m not perfect) and more concerned about what I should be doing better to be there for my family.      

Thursday, March 7, 2013

News On Gideon

We got a partial update on Gideon. Things are looking up. He is only on oxygen in the mornings. As the day warms up he doesn't need the extra help. The thinking is that he will not need any supplemental oxygen in the next few weeks. This is very good. No oxygen will simplify travel quite a bit and bring costs down. We have come to a point that the money is not there for a converter. We are grateful that we don't have that worry now.

We have prayed and fasted much for our son hoping for a miracle. We can now see that the miracle has been in the works. Our faith and all of those that pray with us have made a difference. Thank You for your needed support and prayers. Prayer does work!

Spring Is Springing. :)

Spring is coming! I got out of the car from taking the kids to school and I saw weeds. Yeahhhh!!  I got excited, knelt down and began to pull them. Another thing I love. In the summer I stop to pull weeds most every time I get out of the car. It drives Doug crazy!!! He always tells me to quit and pulls me up. He thinks I can't stop working. What he can't seem to understand is that I get a sense of accomplishment out of it and I love the dirt. I really do love getting down in the dirt. It refreshes me and helps fill my soul. The kids weren't too excited about the weeds but I am.

New life.
Soon these lilies will be 3-4 feet high with beautiful orange flowers.

Signs of the old and the new. All things regenerate. Spring always comes and  the sun comes out.
Saturday was a very dark winter day in my soul. Sunday was a day of obedience. Monday the sun came out in my soul and on the earth. I have enjoyed the beauty ever since. I love the Lord and am grateful for the hope of Spring in the dark days of winter.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Unbelievable News

Today I got a phone call from Myriam with our agency. She wanted to call and explain why there was a delay in our paperwork. Well, when we were sent our LSC from China there is a choice of boxes that need to be signed. Do we accept the adoption or decline. We apparently forgot to check the box. When our agency rep got to the Consulate they couldn't accept the paperwork because the box was not signed. This was completely my fault. I overlooked it and caused a day delay. The document was fixed and Richard in China took it back in this morning.

We expected and hoped that the Article 5, which is the last approval we need from the US, would come next week at the latest. I got a call at 7:00pm from Myriam. She had to call because she had just been notified that our Article 5 was already approved and done!!  It took them less than 2 hours to approve and process. I was speechless. We now will submit for our Travel Approval tomorrow and possibly get it by the end of next week. This could move our travel up by a week. I found out today that China has another holiday the first week of April that most likely would cause us not to be able to do the paperwork in province that week. This speed of approval means we may avoid that delay.

I am in awe!!  I wish I could be this faithful when things get hard. :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Next Step Is Complete- NVC Is Cabled

In just over 24 hours the National Visa Center had our paperwork done! I am amazed. Here is a small portion of what we received and was passed on to the Consulate in Guangzhou. This is so awesome.

Dear Petitioner:

The State Department's National Visa Center has recently received your approval Form I-800,
Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative. This letter is to inform you
that your petition has been forwarded to the appropriate visa-issuing post where the
adoption interview will take place.

The agency representative will now deliver our copy of this document to the Consulate. When they approve everything they will issue what is called the Article 5. That document is then delivered to the CCCWA or the adoption arm of the Chinese government. When the CCCWA had the Article 5 they can issue our travel approval. At that point we can go to China.

The butterflies are showing up here and there and little bits of fear try to creep in. It is getting to close and therefore very real. We are getting another son! A son that has already changed us for the better. I am sure that through our experiences with Gideon we will be greatly blessed.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Life In The Raw

Get Your Mind Out Of The Gutter.
Innocent little me had no idea what Doug thought when he saw this title.

I'm talking about a real home with 12 children and 2 adults and the never ending pile of clothes.
You are never caught up on anything because by the time you do everything needs redoing.

I was so tempted to straighten things up for the picture but I resisted. I straightened this morning in preparation to be in there for quite some time but kids happened. My inspiration for this post was walking in and seeing how bad things had gotten and thinking "What would people think of this?".  Now the world knows I'm not perfect.
Wow, this is really embarrassing. 

What you see here is real life at my house. I figured I would let you in on my little, OK, very large secret. If the laundry isn't in the dirty bins then they are pilled in the baskets on the floor, usually there is only 1-3 loads to fold at a time. Every once in a while I can keep the laundry room in order for more than a week, meaning all clean and folded or in the active process. I even kept things in order for more than a month one time. That was pretty good. How did I do that, you ask? Books on CD.
If I have something to keep my interest than I have no problem staying in the laundry room to fold and clean. Without something to keep my mind occupied I think of all the other things that need to be done. I hurry to get that one important thing done and then don't make it back to the laundry room. The hardest part is turning off the CD when it's all done so I can tackle another major project.  
You know, like cleaning my bathroom. :)

Today was a very fruitful day. I had a list of 14 things that needed to be done. All but 2 were accomplished. How do I decide what not to do? The things that can wait another day. Laundry can always wait another day. At one point I decided that if the clothes were clean than the kids had something to wear. All else was secondary. I had to do this out of survival. I was one that cleaned my bathrooms every day, dusted the baseboards and everything else in the house every week and scrubbed the floor on hands and knees at least once a week with regular mopping most days. I even felt the need to iron T shirts, how silly is that? I was a bit out of control with cleanliness. Not so much anymore. I would love to have my house clean like that but unless I hire someone that won't be happening any time soon, but I digress.

One of my assignments was to go to the library and get a new book on CD so that I would desire to stay in the laundry room. I made it to the library about 2 hours later than I had hoped but by the time I got home I had to pick kids up at school. Once the kids get home my work day is over. I then answer questions, listen to stories of the happenings of the day, do homework and anything else the kids want, all at once mind you.  So now I hope that tomorrow brings the ability to listen to my CD because that means my laundry gets folded. Here's hoping for a short dentist appointment.

What about the socks you wonder? They will sit right there until we have a folding party with the kids. Maybe we will throw sock balls at the ceiling fan. That always makes it more fun.

P.S. Doug says this is pretty raw. I had to ask if I should even post. It made me think 10 times or more about actually posting this. He then said it was embarrassing,  where did my mind go with that? He is embarrassed about my lack of accomplishments. That thought was in the split second between he is embarrassed and "that your husband hasn't built you good cabinets to organize it" I won't tell him if you don't that new cabinets won't change if the laundry gets done. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

"Suffer The Children"

"Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of Heaven."

Christ And Children From Around The World

I have the pleasure of sitting like our Savior, as depicted in this picture, every Sunday. 
I teach the 4 year olds at church. Between my class and the other class that used to be mine as well, we have 10  4 year old children. When I walk into the primary room I get so excited to see my kids. I greet them with smiles and hugs. I love these children!

Today was not unusual. I had one child on my lap, two sitting next to me holding on to my arm, and my hand in the hand of another child. Often a child sitting in the row behind me would give me a hug from behind or play with my hair. Bria is in the other class so she sits behind me. I looked back and noticed that she had her lips pursed and didn't look too happy. I tried to get her to look at me or sing and she would do neither. I had her come stand by me and asked what was wrong. She wouldn't tell me so I went with my gut. I asked if she was sad because other children were getting my hugs and sitting on my lap. A tear fell from her eye as she gently nodded her head yes. My poor little girl was jealous of the attention being given to others and not herself. I'm sure she feels as though if I give it away there may not be enough left for her. My heart broke for her at that moment. As a consolation I offered to go home and have her sit in my lap by herself while we watched Veggie Tales. She agreed  but continued to stand by me instead of going back to her seat. My lap was still full and the seats next to me were occupied. After church we went home and before getting out lunch for the younger children we watched a movie. Bria is now playing in the other room with a smile. She is doing so well but still carries some burdens of not being wanted or loved for the first 3 years of her little life.

I have faith she will overcome these challenges through love, patience and the help of our Savior Jesus Christ. He loves the children and will not forsake them. I have the blessed opportunity to be the hands of God on this earth for just a moment. 
I pray that I can live up to the task and show the children that God loves them.

Friday, March 1, 2013

I-800 Approval

We finally got it!!!! The email came minutes after I contacted our agency to see if they would be OK with me contacting them again. It's here. My spirits have lifted and now I may get something done. Hopefully I won't have much time to get the house organized. I need to just plan on travel before the trade fair which would mean no later than the 29th of March. If we don't travel at that point then at least things will be done.

Our next step should only be a couple of days then on to the Consulate in China. 3 steps left. I can do this!!