Monthly Archives: September 2016

A Journey of a Thousand Miles – Adoption Across America Photography Project

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A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”~Confucius

Our adoption journey began on January 1, 2015.  Our hearts were open to a little girl with special needs, as identified on our MCC (Medical Conditions Checklist) with our agency, CCAI.  With guidance from above and the support of family and friends, we tackled through all of the necessary paperwork to start up the adoption process with China.  We knew that it was just a matter of time before we would be matched and see our daughter’s face for the first and forever time.
On September 22nd, I came home from work and saw a new little girl in a pink gingham dress posted on our agency’s home page. Dane and I watched her video and sent an email to our agency contact requesting to be put on this little girl’s waiting list to possibly review her file. We had requested four other little girl files prior, but families accepted the files before us on the list. We just kept telling ourselves that it is “all in God’s timing.” Friday, October 9th, we kicked off my birthday weekend by heading out for a two-night camping trip. We arrived at the camp site around 4:30, started to unload the truck, and began setting up our tent. Once our tent was up and ready, we proceeded to put up our netted kitchen tent. All of a sudden, it started to drizzle and then just poured down rain! So, we quickly finished getting the kitchen tent secured and went into our regular tent. We sat there for about 10 minutes, and the rain finally stopped. By now, it was closer to 6:00. Dane brought our kitchen table, chairs, pop-up kitchen, and other food necessities into the kitchen tent for me to set up. Just as I finished putting the table cloth on our table, I heard Dane say, “Tava, come here.” I looked at him and noticed that he was standing by the side of his truck looking at his phone. I then started putting the weighted hooks on the tablecloth, when again, he said, “Tava, Come Here!” I saw him look away from his phone and then back down at it. Right away, my heart sank, thinking something was wrong. Something had happened and we were going to have to pack up and head home right away. I ran over to the truck and asking him “What is it? “Is everything ok?” He began reading an email to me: Dear Dane and Tava, I left you a message on the phone as we are able to share the file of little _____ with your family today. Her name is _________________ and she was born on 7.21.2014. We looked at our phones for missed calls. Dane didn’t have any, but I did! I had two missed calls from our agency rep, one at 5:55 and again at 5:56! As you can imagine, our eyes welled up with tears which began to fall as Dane continued to read. She was born the day after our wedding anniversary (7-20)! She was 14 months old, and would be closer to two years of age by the time we would get her. We opened several attachments with pictures, medical information, and a video, etc. Oh my sweetness! Then and there we realized that she was just the perfect fit for our family! However, we needed to consult medical professionals to be sure that we could meet her needs. It was 7:00 by the time we came to the realization that this was happening, and we were losing daylight. We debated about whether or not we should head back home. After much discussion, we realized that with it being the weekend, there wasn’t anything we could do until Monday. So, we finished setting up our campsite and stayed. We went to the little gift shop on Saturday, and they had this little Panda on a key ring. The Panda’s name ironically rhymes with our little girl’s Chinese given name. So, we bought it as a souvenir to remember receiving the best email and news ever!
We returned home on Sunday, and told our families about how we were in the process of reviewing a little girl’s file. We didn’t give them much detail, as we wanted to check with doctors first on medical conditions listed for this little girl. So, during the week of October 12th, we were busy sending her file to medical experts: a nurse friend, a neighbor pediatrician, and the doctors at the International Adoption Center at Children’s. We just had a week to give our final decision-if we accepted, she was ours; if not, she would be passed onto the next family on her list. First and foremost, we agreed that we needed to make sure that we could meet this little girl’s needs. Thursday at 4:00 we had a conference call with the head doctor at Children’s. She told us that the doctor who invented the one procedure that this little girl would need was at our Children’s Hospital!!! We could not be in a better area for helping this little girl!!! That pretty much made our final decision-she was just meant to be our daughter! Thursday night, we went and told our families our decision! Friday morning, Dane and I called our agency and left a message for our agency rep, telling her that this little girl is our daughter!!!
Our sweet little Eowynn Meiping (A-O-WIN MAY-PING) has been with us now since January 4th of this year.  Our entire adoption process was a year-long process from start to finish.  Eowynn will undergo two surgeries this fall to take care of her medical needs. She is definitely the missing piece to our family!  We love her to the moon and back! 

Our family – Adoption Across America Photography Project

We thought our family was complete with two adoptions from foster care (in the 1980s) and six biological children. There are also eleven grandchildren in the mix. Our youngest bio was approaching her teen years.  But then we dared to remember the dream of “someday” adopting a little girl from China.  We ended up with approval for two, and since we were going to do this ONLY ONCE, why not?  Soooo Abigail and Jennifer came home in the spring of 2013.

Shortly after the girls came home our heart was called to an eleven year old boy who just sounded so sweet – and indeed he is.  Isaac came home in the spring of 2014.

We attended a reunion picnic to meet children adopted from the same orphanage as our girls but also met a child who was being hosted in the states – he had grown up with our girls.  Patrick came home in the spring of 2015.

At this point I was telling God and everyone else who would listen that I was DONE!  But my heart hadn’t counted on the little girl I’d advocated for over the period of nearly two years being stuck tight.  Our Sonnet came home in July of 2016.

Had anyone told me that well into my fifties I would again have six children of my own at home I would have laughed at them.  It wasn’t my plan.  But I’m thankful that God’s ways are not our ways and His plans are not our plans. These children in my “old age” have been worth all the sleepless nights, the paperwork, the hassle and the worry.  If you too are a “seasoned parent” I encourage you to take that leap and allow an awesome child who just needs a chance to change your life.  I am one truly blessed mama and having the time of my life!

You and Me – Adoption Across America Project

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By Vicky D.

Once upon a time, a little girl born on the other side of the world said to me…”You and Me” as she pointed to herself then to me. Now, I knew and felt so much love for her the moment I saw her referral picture. I also knew pretty quickly in China, that my daughter had started to bond and attach to me. Well, it wasn’t until that moment, which was nearly a year after coming home, I realized she both loved me AND trusted me…that she understood the meaning of family and love. This is the true miracle and beauty of adoption orchestrated by the loving hand of God-two strangers from different sides of the world would become “You and Me”, forever mother and daughter, forever a family. This is our story…

As long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a mom. When I dreamt of my future, I always saw myself loving and raising a house full of kids. As the years went by, I bought my parents house, took fabulous trips around the world, finished two master degrees, and my career blossomed. But the dreams of being a mom started to fade. I watched many of my dear friends and family members marry and start their own families. As I happily celebrated their joys with them, there was a sadness in my heart. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my life and was blessed with a wonderful family and friends plus I was blessed to be “Auntie” to my cousins’ kids-all of whom are amazing. I have even been honored to be Godmother to a couple of them! But I have to admit, my heart was still aching for a child of my own.

 

After all, my own mom was the best mom in the world…a woman who loved her girls unconditionally and fiercely. I always wanted to be just like her. As most of us know, life isn’t always how you wish it would be. Then I found myself approaching my mid-40’s and single. The dreams of being a mom in the traditional way started to feel out of reach. Then one evening after work, I spent some time catching up with a dear friend and colleague, and suddenly the words came out…I want to be a mom and that I was thinking about adoption. I think we may have been talking about future goals related to our jobs, but the one and only goal that felt real at the moment, was that I wanted to be a mom. So, with those words, my adoption journey began.

Now it took a few more months for me to plunge into the whirlwind that is international adoption, but with those words I took a leap of faith and decided to pursue life as a single parent. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the best decision I have ever made.

Over the next year, I did my research on adoption-domestic or international?, what country program?, what agency?, how did other working moms, especially single moms adopt and survive?, “yikes, could I really do this and be enough for any child?”

I did talk to friends who had adopted, including another single mom (of three internationally adopted children). I prayed and prayed about proceeding and sought out the support of my family and friends. I “interviewed” several agencies and consulted with an international adoption pediatrician. I decided on and applied to an agency in December of 2011-All God’s Children International or AGCI. Pulling all this information together and saying more prayers, I decided that the China special needs/special focus program was right for me. Of course I was apprehensive about the term “special needs” until I learned what that really meant in the adoption world. I was somewhat relieved that “special needs” in another country were often manageable needs in the US.

So in the summer of 2012,I started working on the medical conditions adoption forms to determine what conditions I was open to. CP or Cerebral Palsy was a condition I was very familiar with. As a neonatal nurse for over 20 years, I was well aware of the medical aspects of CP and the ongoing care and management families and children faced for years to come. I understood that CP was the result of irreversible brain damage and that often it is years before a family knew exactly how the damage impacted their child. I knew CP is not curable, yet is not fatal or progressive, and that with the right balance of therapy and treatments, a child with CP could thrive, regardless of the severity. I knew the resources to access and the services that were needed. I had trusted friends and colleagues at a top pediatric hospital to consult with and to answer any of my questions. I also had good people surrounding me to be my honest sounding board to help support me during my decision making process. Because of all this background and support, I felt very well-prepared and comfortable with adopting a child with mild to moderate CP.

So fast forward a few months and several approvals later…in mid to late November, a sweet little face of this cute little girl caught my eye on the waiting child list. Then December 5, 2012, I said “yes” to a seemingly feisty and beautiful little girl with right sided hemiplegia. This meant her muscle control and strength on the right side of her body was impacted. I also learned that she was abandoned at an estimated 6 months of age, very tiny for her age and had grieved heavily when she was first at the orphanage. This told me she was loved and loved back, because of the sadness she felt at such a young age. As time went on, she began to trust her caregivers, ate well, built attachments to her nannies, grew in height and weight, and tended to cause a ruckus until she got what the attention she wanted or she didn’t get what she wanted. My girl was a strong, fierce survivor. From her records, she was able to walk and say a few words, had ongoing weakness in her right arm/hand and leg, and ate and slept well. I was lucky to receive videos of her, she indeed was mobile, but dragged her leg, and there was little movement of her right arm/hand. Yet in her eyes and in her smile, I could see her funny, feisty personality.

On June 17, 2013, I met a scared and sullen little girl in a hot civil affairs office in Nanjing, Jiangsu, China. Along with my sister and now super A’Yi, we welcomed Mila Rose Huimin deCastro into our family and hearts. But “Min Min” as she was called by the orphanage nannies and staff-the only people she has known for two years-was so sad and so uncertain about what was happening. She took the cookies we offered and went through the motions, then reluctantly left with two strangers and one sweet lady (our guide Melody) who could actually speak to her. It took a few hours and discovery of some toys that finally made her smile back and hold eye contact with me…but it was the beginning of a beautiful journey, when an orphan from Jiangsu province became a daughter, a niece, a granddaughter, a cousin, and a little girl soon to call Kentucky her home, so loved and so celebrated.

Three years later, Mila Rose (and she will correct anyone who calls her anything but Mila or Mila Rose) continues to be funny and feisty. She is also stubborn, tenacious, strong-willed, quirky, goofy, loving, energetic, and dramatic. This girl has accomplished so much in three years…learned a new language, learned to walk, talk, use her hands and arms all differently, endured “yucky” injections to help her muscles move better, learned adaptive skills to accomplish daily activities, “graduated” from pre-K to Kindergarten, learned to take the bus, learned to swim, ski, tap dance, and ballet dance, learned to be a daughter and friend, learned to love and trust…just to name a few things. She has also taught me to love beyond what I ever thought was possible, to be a mom first and foremost, to work less and to be present in life more, to always say yes to “one more hug and one more kiss each morning”, and to witness what real courage it takes to open up your heart to love and trust another person.

Three years of our story unfolded…and so much more to come. I can’t wait!

Adoption Across America – A Leap of Faith

_MG_1573 (Medium) _MG_1573 (Medium) Sometimes our greatest blessings in life come from the biggest leaps of faith.  As a 35 year old single woman, I had felt God calling me toward adoption for some time.  But I drug my feet.  I had a comfortable, “predictable” life, and the idea of becoming a single mother was scary.  Becoming a single mother to a child with unknown special needs was even scarier.  I prayed about it and researched my options, but I wasn’t ready to make any commitments.

In January 2013, I woke up in the middle of the night with a feeling so strong from God that it was time to take action.  The next day, I submitted my application to adopt.  For months, I met with my social worker and worked on gathering the appropriate documents.  All while praying that, when the time was right, God would reveal to me the child I was supposed to pursue.  And on October 1, 2013, I saw her face for the first time.  I knew from the second I saw her picture that this was the child I had been praying for.

The next 6 months seemed to drag on forever as I finished preparations to bring her home.  And on March 23, 2014, A….. G….. Chunyi was placed in my arms to begin her forever life with me.  She was quiet, calm, and stoic the day we met.  But as our days together continued, her personality began to emerge, and it was evident that I had been entrusted with a spunky, spirited, determined, firecracker of a little girl!  My “new mom” skills were put to quite the test as I tried to navigate the seas of toddlerhood with a child who often seemed to be smarter than me!  And a child who had more energy than should be humanly possible!

Her and I eventually settled into a nice routine with our little duo.  She was figuring out what it meant to have a family, and I was figuring out how to manage life as a single mom.  But once she had been home for about a year, I started to get the feeling that I was supposed to adopt another child.  I put my brakes on again and wrestled with God.  Surely He couldn’t be calling me to take another leap of faith and add another child to my family.  I was just figuring out how to make it with one!  And the one I had was a dynamo!  But the feeling persisted, and my conversations with God always left me thinking about the possibility of adopting again.  I prayed about this for another 6 months, and when AG had been home for about 18 months, I started the process to bring home a little sister.

Right before Christmas (2015), my social worker sent me some possible files to review.  There was one little face that grabbed me.  Her special need was not something that I was readily considering.  In fact, it was on my list of “I would need to seriously pray about this.”  As I was praying about moving forward to pursue this child, God connected me with several people who had met her on trips to China, and I felt like their words to me were like whispers from God that I needed to cast my fears aside and take this leap of faith to bring her home.  Despite the unknowns about her future and development.  Despite my deepest fears.  He told me to trust Him.  Several days after Christmas, I was officially matched with E…. H…., and she became part of our family on June 6, 2016.

E’s transition into our family was nothing short of traumatic.  She had been well loved at a foster center, and it was heart wrenching to hear her cries as she was taken from her nannies and placed (arching and screaming) into my arms.  During our two weeks in China, E completely rejected me.  If I so much as looked at her, it would often trigger intense crying.  She was scared, depressed, and broken.  As her new mama, I just wanted to hold her and love her and help her realize that everything was going to be okay.  But I was the last person she wanted to receive comfort from.  So I had to sit by and watch as my mother (bless her extreme heart!) took on all the care giving duties for my new daughter.

Once we returned to the US and started getting settled into our new lives, things slowly improved.  E began allowing me to hold her and care for her, and we started seeing occasional smiles.  We have now been home for 10 weeks, and the broken little girl we met in China is now a (mostly) happy little girl who ADORES her big sister.  She is still very quiet and serious, but she is also observant and sensitive.  People who meet her often comment that she seems like an “old soul” inside her little body.  The past 12 weeks have probably been the hardest 12 weeks of my life.  But the hardship and heartache is worth it to see the life of my daughter being redeemed.  She is blossoming with the love and stability of a family.

When God called me to take the leap of faith to adopt, I’m so thankful that I didn’t let fear keep my feet firmly rooted to the ground.  Because if I hadn’t jumped when He said “go”, I would’ve missed the two greatest blessings in my life!