Friday, January 21, 2011

What I can(not) handle

I'm learning, day by day, what I can and cannot handle as the stay-at-home mom of three.  This morning we ventured out into the frigidity for a field trip with our home school group.  It was a great concept--a cool learning environment, my good mommy friends and their kiddos.  I even brought the double stroller!  I did not, however, bring lunch for my kids.  You'd think I'd have learned my lesson by now.  But no.

So there was a lot of standing around waiting before we actually went in.  Not so crazy about that.  The kids were more patient than I expected they'd be, and we did see some interesting things, though I'm pretty sure no actual science knowledge was absorbed by any of us.  At some point my 18-month-old reached her threshold and became downright unpleasant.  And somewhere along the way my son dropped his snot rag (he has a serious cold); I pity the person who picks it up.  I finally scrounged for snacks in my purse... thank God for the small container of smoked almonds I put in there four months ago.  Mmmm, still tasty.  And "Fruit Spins", not nearly as old as the almonds.  Also tasty.  That bought us another half-hour. 

We got out to the car, everyone full-on cranky, and I exerted significant self-control in not cursing loudly in front of my children.  Especially when I had to pay $5 for parking.  GRRR.  Just keepin' it real, folks.  Drove home through a lovely snowfall (no really, it was!), got everyone inside, boots off, everyone fed, pottied, diaper changed, girls down for naps.  WHEW.  And... breathe. 

My point is not to complain about the day, honestly.  So any of you home school group mommy friends reading this, please forgive me.  Seeing you all was the best part!  My point is that I am growing wiser about what I can and cannot handle on my own.  I should clarify:  "handle" while still maintaining a cheerful, positive attitude.  Today was simply too ambitious for me.  Yes, I realize the irony, given that I am charging my way through an international adoption with the result of adding a fourth child to our family.  A fourth child age six and under!  But hanging out all casual and cozy in our house (albeit arguably a bit small for four kids and two parents) is way easier than venturing out.  Sometimes.  It just depends.

So I'm learning.  And that doesn't mean I'll never give something a go.  I managed with three kids on my own while my husband was in Georgia for SIX! WEEKS! exactly one year ago.  How in the world did I do that?!?  Oh, yeah.  His grace is sufficient for me.  And Skype was fun too.  It's good to work through these lessons now.  I'll have a whole new learning curve come this summer when we bring home sweet baby X.  I think it's safe to say you won't see me out and about with all four kiddos.  Not for a while.  Not without reinforcements.  And a cooler full of snacks.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Brother love

There has been some serious sibling love for X happening in our house this week.  It does this mama's heart good!  My son, age 6, came in while I was changing the baby's diaper and announced, out of the blue:  "I feel sad that X is not home with us.  I wish he could jump out of the pictures and come to life and be here with us right now!"

Later, during lunch, he said he felt like he might cry because X isn't home.  I encouraged him to pray for X whenever he experienced that sadness, thinking of his little brother.  So he promptly prayed, "Dear Jesus, please do a miracle and make X come home right now!"  I teased him, gasping and pointing under the dining room table, as if his prayer had immediately been answered.  I mean, my faith level is rising, and I am learning to believe God for "more than all we ask or imagine", but umm...I wasn't really holding my breath on that one.   

My daughter, age 3.5, saw X's photo on the computer screen and said, "Hi, brother.  I love you."  And earlier today I caught my son kissing and hugging his brother's recently-framed photos. 

The kids thought it would be fun to draw pictures of X's referral pics.

Son's drawing--he got a little aggressive with the red crayon

Daughter's drawing--she had a good bit of help from Mama (Or maybe I shouldn't tell you that since I'm not a great artist.  I should just let you think my three-year-old has prodigious talent.) 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The ones who got away?

OK, that's probably a terrible name for this post.  Sorry. . .but that's what popped into my head first.  I just read that the new (special needs) shared list will be released on the 18th.  And my heart skipped a beat just for a sec. 

And then I remembered. . . we've already been matched with a child. . . a precious, cute-as-pie boy!  There will be no anxious waiting by the phone for us that day.  That was "the plan", but God had something else in mind.  We believe that this is the child destined for our family; He has made that clear, and I will rely on those signposts when doubt begins to flicker, as it has and will again, I imagine.  I can already see why some experience vicariously so much joy and emotion on the days referrals are made.  And I even get why some of you are eager to begin the process again.  I wonder, does anyone else get a bit jittery about referrals, even though you know the phone won't be ringing for you? 

All of you BTDT parents are invited to help me normalize my feelings that this. is. totally. surreal.  Who is this little person staring back at me from my computer screen?  Will I feel like I know him if I stare at his photos long enough?  It doesn't help that he appears to live in a smallish orphanage, so obscure that no one (at least in internet-ville) has heard of it!  It's very much like the first trimester of pregnancy, when you're not showing and no one knows you're pregnant unless you tell them, and you have to remind yourself--this is real!  This is happening!  This baby is on his way!  So please weigh in if you like, and help me figure out what to do with myself (other than taking care of the three Very Small People already living with me...duh) now that the flurry and fury of dossier-prep and the anxious waiting for a referral are over with. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Here he is. . .

X, eight months--think he's warm enough?
 . . .in all of his supreme cuteness. . .our boy, whom we'll call "X" for now.  FYI, his name really does begin with X; we're not just trying to be weird.  He is eight months old, and is waiting for us in Jiangsu province (see the map below).

X, about five months old
Here's a sampling of various family members' reactions to seeing X's photos:

DS (age 6):  I love him already!
DH (age 30-something): Do you think he'll like me?  [asked repeatedly]
DD (age 3): Chinese brother! [said with shy grin]
DD (age 1):  Baby! 

X, eight months
X is waiting for us in Jiangsu province

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Just to tide you over

I think I'm probably allowed to post pics if I want.  But I'm waiting until I hear about our official pre-approval from our agency.  So until then. . .'cause I know you're eager to see him. . .

Kids #1 & #2, checking out #4

Friday, January 7, 2011

Crazier things have happened, but not to us

Remember when I said this (in my last post)?:  It is our sincere desire that this lovely boy finds his forever family; we hope he already has. 

Yes, he has.  And it's US!  (It's WE?)  We have a new son!

Are you as surprised as I am???

On Monday, January 3, our adoption agency emailed with the updates I had requested, even though the boy's file was still "missing."  They told us if we were still interested, they could try to locate the child's file and attempt to "get it back" (from where?...I still don't know).  Baffled, I said "Sure, why not?"  At least we'd know for sure if he had a family planning to adopt  him.  I heard nothing the rest of the day or the next day.  We continued to pray for this little boy, for our family, for God's will to be beautifully accomplished.

At some point prior to this, probably after I wrote my last blog post, thinking this was a closed chapter, I snuck a peek at the photos in this child's referral file.  Can you believe my self-control in NOT looking up to this point?  I amaze myself.  I had come to such a place of peace and relative objectivity that his photos didn't even tug at my heart!  And not because I didn't find him cute.  I just thought, "Well, there he is.  And he's not our son." In the days following I could hardly recall his appearance in my mind. 

The January 3rd email I received also contained three updated photos of this boy.  Well, there they were, right in the email!  I wasn't NOT going to look this time.  Hmmm, quite a bit of tugging at the heart.  Was he this cute in the first photos? I wondered.  You see, somewhere along the way, the fear and indecision began to dissipate, and we began to feel a true, peaceful openness to whichever outcome God brought about.  And I began to suspect that, after all our inquiry and praying and scrambling for information, this little one might actually be intended for our family.

On Wednesday morning, January 5, my birthday, I got an email from our agency stating they had the boy's file back and had locked it in for us ( more gambling) until Friday noon. My husband and I emailed throughout the day, and though we didn't say the words aloud, I think we both knew what was going to happen--we were going to adopt this child!  By the time he came home from work, I was ready to celebrate.  After all, it was my birthday, and who wants to cook dinner on her birthday???  We never go out to eat with our children, but we had a gift card to Jason's Deli, and kids ate free that night.  As we parked the car, we heard people calling to us out their car window.  It was our dear friends (whom we see less often than we'd like) along with their daughter--who was adopted from China in 2005.  We were able to eat dinner together at a big table while we shared our story with them.  Later my husband suggested this "coincidence" was one further sign from God, along with the file being rediscovered and locked on my birthday...just the sort of thing God would do.  Yes, I think so too.  

So that's our long story.  And our announcement!  I don't know if I'm allowed to post pictures on my blog yet.  You'll just have to check back in a few days for all the wonderful details.  I'll leave you with these song lyrics (from Steven Curtis Chapman's song "Dive") which have some special significance for us.  We're diving in!

The long awaited rains
Have fallen hard upon the thirsty ground
And carved their way to where
The wild and rushing river can be found.
And like the rains,
I have been carried here to where the river flows.
My heart is racing and my knees are weak;
As I walk to the edge
I know there is no turning back
Once my feet have left the ledge.
And in the rush I hear a voice
That's telling me it's time to take the leap of faith
So here I go...