Monday, February 9, 2015

Xavier's 2nd Birthday/Chiang Mai Zoo

Xavier was sick the day before his birthday with some sort of stomach virus, and all our party plans went out the window.  We had hoped to take him to the zoo then have a party at the guest house we were staying in with two families we are friends with who were in Thailand for the same reason.  We felt he was too weak to go to the zoo, the daughter of one family became ill, and our other friends couldn't make it.  Still, we remained optimistic and chose plan B.  We took him to a nearby mall where there was a play area with little kid rides.  He loves Thomas the train so we put him on a train toy...but it was too noisy and scared him.

We tried a few other things, but the only thing he liked was the table top air hockey game.  We decided on pizza hut for supper because he usually loves pizza.  However, I had bought donuts for his birthday since I couldn't bake a cake, and cakes are very expensive in Thailand.  As soon as he spotted the donuts, he wanted nothing to do with pizza.  I think we managed to get a few bites down him before fast-forwarding to dessert!

I had bought a few party decorations on sale last summer for 25 cents a piece, and we hardly used them.  Maybe next year.

This is how I would like to think things would have gone...

But this is more like how they went.

Sometimes plan B doesn't go the way we hope either, but there is still grace and much to be thankful for.  We have a sweet, cuddly, cute, fascinating two year old boy that we longed for.  We see so much potential in him in the years to come.  He is so strong, and I ask Father to help us raise him to love and serve Him.  May He use Xavier's strength to bring Him glory.

A few days later we went to the zoo with friends Tracy and Janis, along with their daughters Sarah and Emily.  My friend, Tammy, had told me this was her favorite zoo, and to prepare to do a lot of walking.  Early on we came to this giant tree house that everyone climbed while I got a fresh iced matcha latte for about 78 cents and stayed with Xavier.

Picking bamboo leaves for the animals

It's a beautiful zoo surrounded by gorgeous trees and flowers.

Feeding the elephant a banana.

Hello, hippopotamus!!

Riding hippos

Eden and Sarah.

Ephraim is going to be a great dad.  One of the many reasons I know this is that Xavier was screaming so loud on this ride, but Ephraim calmly and quietly held him so that he wouldn't fall.  He is sooo patient.

Another thing I love about raising my kids overseas is that they are 7, but are unashamed to hold hands with their friends in public.  

Painted elephant.

The only panda at the zoo came out to eat lunch.

Twins at heart.

It was an all day event, and we were thankful to have friends experiencing it with us.  

Showers of Blessing:
Grace when even plan b fails
Loveable two year old who already says please and thank you unprompted at times, who is 
     determined, who loves Changchun, who takes his time and then proceeds with confidence after 
     pondering, who wants his family near him, who takes risks, who loves Christmas songs and knows
     the name of the Son.
Pizza Hut!!
Friends to share experiences with
Getting to feed majestic animals
Cheap fresh made lattes
The sweet innocence of childhood friendship

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Change of Heart


We are adopting!! We are adding hearts to our home.  Yes, you read that right.  Plural.  Father turned our world upside-down in a matter of weeks.  We are working with Children's House International.  A few days ago we received pre-approval from China on a sweet little girl, and we are waiting and trusting for pre-approval on a precious little boy.  Initially, I hesitated to share with you about our sweet boy till we had preapproval, but I felt the more people lifting him up, the better.  
The Plan  Up until our time at the beach in Thailand, we fully intended to return to the states this summer for many reasons.  We had adoption on our hearts, but thought it would come later.  I thought it was important to go back and refresh my skills as a nurse.  We thought we could take a home leave, and then return.  We Truly love China.  We wanted to get a small home in America as a home base to bring consistancy and security for our kids in their constant transition.  These are all good things.  Then, I woke up one morning... It's difficult to fathom that a single day can change your whole life course, but Father is full of surprises, and His plans are always better than ours.  
Change of heart  One morning when I woke up the kids were still asleep.  I decided to check facebook, and was excited to see a former classmate from boarding school was on his way to South Africa to bring his three sons home.  I later had a conversation with a girl in our org. who is adopting from Sierra Leone.  That night I got to know Amanda who was staying at the same guesthouse.  Amanda has 12 children.  7 were adopted from China.  She answered so many questions for Jacob and I, and was so encouraging.  Not only did she adopt children, but she now works for CHI and is our caseworker.  Over the next few weeks, Father burdened our hearts and made us realize that Now was the time to bring home our daughter, and, not just our daughter, our son.  Allow me to back up just a little.  When I was about 15 years old, attending boarding school in Ivory Coast, the campus nurse took a group of us on Saturdays to the local orphanage to spend time with the kids.  It was life changing.  I wrote a paper on orphan girls in China.  From that time on, I knew in my heart that Father wanted me to adopt a son from Africa and a daughter from China.  We are so blessed with Ephraim, and I have literally been waiting half my life to meet my daughter.  Jacob and I have been in agreement about adoption since we were seriously dating.
What we didn't know  Did you know that 75% of waiting children in China are boys?  We didn't.  Amanda and her husband have adopted one daughter and six sons.  We rather quickly became burdened for the boys and felt Father impressing it on our hearts to not forget His sons.  I will tell more about that in another post.  Long story short, we were both drawn to an adorable boy.
What we know   I plan to share more of what brought us to these specific kids later.  In the meantime, here are a few things we know.  Father has been and is preparing our whole family for this.  The kids have been after us for years to adopt again.  We also had it on our hearts, but they didn't let us forget. We are excitied and want them home already, but we know with adoption there is lots of intervening, waiting, costs, waiting, paperwork, waiting, educating about trauma, waiting, more paperwork, waiting, and more waiting.  It is also a huge opportunity to trust Father to be glorified and work it out for good.  Please understand that we are still very much involved in the work we have been doing here.  We believe Father will also use this.  We had a student over today who we were sharing our news with.  Out of everything we told her, she said she was going to remember that Father is love.
How are we preparing   We are lifting them up daily.  We are currently reading The Connected Child.  We are saving.  We are having conversations with our kids about what it might be like when we bring them home.  We are talking with Eden and Ephraim about the fact that they won't speak English, they won't know the rules, they may not know what isn't appropriate, they will need a lot of attention.  Bless our sweet kids.  They are brainstorming fundraisers on their own.  Eden's idea was to make a band, and charge for a concert. Ephraim wanted to turn our books into a library, and charge people to check them out.  Precious.  They are so excited.  Ephraim is so happy that the boys will still outnumber the girls.  He's also glad to have someone else to play with.  He's a true extrovert.  Alone time is torture for him.  Eden has been wanting to share her room with her sister for a very long time.  She already has toys and clothes that she wants to give her, and she has shed sweet tears over her and him.
How you can help  Please lift up our family:  health and safety for them while we are apart, that all of our hearts would be prepared to unite, that the finances would come in quickly and easily, that paperwork would move quickly and easily, that we would be united as a family within a year.  Please consider giving.  There's a button at the upper right hand corner of this blog where you can donate to bring our kids home.  It's a bit challenging fundraising from a distance.  Would you consider doing a fundraiser for us?  You could have a garage sale, a car wash, a bake sale, organize a 5k, have a children's group fill piggy banks, is there something that you are willing to give up and donate the proceed?  Please share our story, especially with your kids.  They may one day be friends with our kids.  I am so greatful to the nurses who took us on those outings.  I have purposefully been providing opportunities for my kids to keep adoption on their hearts.  They have lifted up orphans, been to an institution, and donated to a children's hospice here in China.    Eden says she wants to adopt one day.  We will need everything a person needs for two extra kids.  If you have any items you would like to donate (books, clothes, I would love weighted blankets for them for initial sleep and sensory issues, etc) you can give them to my parents.  Consider adopting a waiting child yourself.  There are so many kids that have been waiting for a forever family.  They are dear to Father's heart.  Thank you so much for your support in whatever way you show it.
Showers of Blessing
The honor and priviledge of even being considered as parents for these two priceless ones  PTL
His plans are always much better!!
United hearts, what great kids we already have!

Experiencing Grace at Pranburi Hospital

Not everything that happened at the beach was relaxing and peaceful.  I was out getting a few items with three other moms one day when one of them handed me her phone.  Dread instantly came over me.  We had moved rooms that day, and before we could get everything unpacked, Xavier managed to get into Jacob's pill case.  I intervened on Xavier's behalf while waiting for Jacob and the kids to pick me up on the way to Pranburi hospital.  He looked fine when they picked me up, but I could see the remnants of dissolved medicine on his shirt collar.  Father was truly with me during all of this.  Last year when he and Eden got sick, I was literally trembling with fear.  This time, I started to tear up once, but asked Father to help me.  Xavier needed me to be strong and comfort him.  I helped hold him down while Jacob and the kids waited outside so the nurses could put in the NG tube, flush out his stomach, and administer charcoal.  I was thankful for clean equipment, and kind efficient staff.  They wanted to keep him for 24 hour observation.  Jacob took Eden and Ephraim to get supper and diapers while I was shown to this room.  They were so kind and apologized for being full with no private rooms available.  I honestly had no expectations, just thankful to have medical personnel who knew what they were doing.  We had this little area to ourselves, while two children receiving blood were in the larger room.

The first child looked like this wasn't his first time here.  The second one in this picture seemed to be having a more difficult time.

After getting his labs drawn, we settled in to watch Thomas in order to keep him in bed.  

He slept pretty well that night, while I was mostly awake reading about trials, thanking Father for protecting him, intervening for the other children (two more were brought in that night with serious breathing difficulty), and asking Father to somehow be glorified in this mess.  This was a hard thing to go through, and I didn't want it wasted.

We were let the next morning because his labs were normal, and he had no problems.  Xavier was served this mostly healthy breakfast first: rice in broth with chicken, egg, green onion, cilantro, and mushroom with soymilk to drink.

Showers of Blessing:
Small yet professional hospital
Clean equipment
Kind nurses
Peace that passes all understanding

Enjoying the Beach

Once again, we had an important reason for going to Thailand this winter.  Before that, however, we got to take a detour to the beach.  Xavier got his own seat on the plane for the first time.

We stayed our first night in Bangkok, then got Xavier immunizations at an international hospital.  Then we took a four hour mini bus ride to Dolphin Bay.  I must admit that before we got there, I didn't think that it would be worth the hastle it was to arrive.  I held and entertained Xavier most of the way there with a pile of luggage next to me, and a monk in front of me.  Apparently if a woman touches a monk, they have to go through an extensive purification ceremony.  I was definitely not at my best when we got there, but, of course, it was worth it.

We stayed at a guest house that provides refreshment to people with the same purpose as us.  It includes laundry service and meals in their dining hall.  So many of their trees and plants reminded me of my childhood: frangipani, papaya, etc.  The next morning I slipped away by myself before Xavier woke up to have quiet time on the beach, and this was the view Father shared with me.

The kids enjoyed the beach, but were excited about the pool too.  Ephraim wanted Jacob to take a picture of him "tanning."

This kid cannot keep a straight face. :)

Eden and Eprhaim made friends with the most awesome kid named William.

William was so sweet: sharing everything he had, getting Eden and Ephraim a parting gift, talking to Father with Eden and Ephraim, wanting to include everyone in everything, and hosting movie night in his front yard.  His Mom told me that he wants to marry Eden when he grows up, and he is asking Father to move us closer to them.  So precious.

While I stayed with Xavier, Jacob took the kids on a boat ride to monkey island.

Eden and Sarah.

Eden and Risa.

This cracks me up!

I love this picture of Eden.

Just because you stay on the boat, does not mean you are safe from the monkeys.


Jacob took this picture for me of three nursing momma monkeys huddled together.  I adore it.

Xavier burying my feet in the sand.  He hated the beach noise and pool water the first day, but didn't want to leave when it was time.

Ephraim really enjoyed playing in this mud pit.

We met up with friends staying at another guest house.  It was good for the kids to see friends from home in Changchun.  It helped when they had to say goodbye to other friends.

Ephraim's reaction to Jacob taking him and Eden swimming at night with their friends.

The infamous floppy popsicle.

The electricity went out one night, so three friends joined us for cartoons.

The kids were part of a spa made up by friends.  There was much drama involved, but good lessons learned in the end.

Ahhh, what more could a toddler ask for: being strolled in his chariot by the beach while sipping on strawberrry milk.

Collecting shells with friends.

Jacob with a jellyfish.  At one point, Xavier managed to get one halfway picked up before I shrieked!

My favorite beach picture of Eden.

Getting every last inch of himself possible in the water.

This girl takes it all in.  I love her so much.

Come and get me.  I'm ready!

Making a track for the hermet crabs.

Hermit crab.

Making use of his tae kwon do skills: splits at the beach.

Family pics.

I love this picture of Xavier.

Precious moment.

Friends watched the kids one night so we could have a date!

My favorite moments were taking Eden and Ephraim separately on a morning at the beach to have a quiet time and lift them up specifically.

I will treasure this forever.

Showers of Blessing:
Xavier doing well on the plane rides
People who serve others and provide places of rest
Not cooking or doing laundry
Sweet friends for my kids
Vitamin D
Afternoon walk on the beach, just me and my Father
Funny monkeys
Resting as a family
Date night
QTs alone with my kids