Monday, February 28, 2011

His name...part 2

DH received another enlightening email from his Chinese student/friend, Jie.  Here's what she had to say about Jiushu's name:
I read your post and people's comments on the post last night! One comment suggested that you "have someone look at the characters for Jiushu and tell you how they came to be, if possible." I guess I can say something about these two characters. The first character '"Jiu" is composed of two parts. The major part means to seek, to look for, to ask for, or even to beg*. That's why this character means to save or to rescue. Because you usually seek for help, seek for opportunity and seek for life before you will be rescued. The second one "Shu" also has two parts. The left part means treasure (or precious things); and the right part means to sell. It means in order to get this treasure, you pay a lot, you sacrifice a lot! You even need to sell other things to get this treasure (or precious stuff) back. But it is all worthwhile because this treasure is special and important to you! Hope this helps a little bit.
*One etymology site gave this as a description of the "jiu" character:   The action of the hand of a beggar reaching out for help.

Two passages of scripture come to mind.  The first is on a painting hanging in our dining room, Psalm 116: 5-6 (NIRV):   The Lord is holy and kind.  Our God is full of tender love.  The Lord takes care of those who are as helpless as children.  When I was in great need, He saved me.  Even when I don't realize how desperately I need saving, or am entirely powerless to rescue myself (as was our son in China), the Lord comes in tender love and mercy, and He rescues.  Because that is who He is.  Oh, how grateful I am!

The second is Matthew 13: 45-46 (NASB)Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.  To Jesus, I am a pearl of great price.  His blood paid for my salvation, my freedom, my position as friend and beloved daughter of the Father.  Jesus decided that I was worth that terrible cost, centuries before I was born.  Though I do not dare to presume that it compares, adoption helps me scratch the surface of comprehending that kind of love, that kind of sacrifice, knowing that in every orphan (and indeed, in every person) there is a treasure of inestimable value. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

And His Name Shall Be Call-ed . . .

Guest post written by Vince (the DH):

My lovely wife asked me to write a bit about how we chose a name for our new son.

I decided several weeks ago that I should take the lead in choosing a name. At times I have felt uninvolved and powerless in this adoption process, much like a man who has missed his train feels uninvolved and powerless as he watches the train pick up speed and fade into the distance. But that's a topic for another post, in which this DH hopes to discuss what it's like to be the DH (and maybe at times the RH) in the hope that it may help other DHs and the DWs who love them. Also, I plan to make fun of the ridiculous number of adoption-related acronyms. But I digress.

I began asking God what we should name our son. Friday, February 18, was the payday on which we'd have enough money to send the big check to the adoption agency, along with our son's visa application, so I set this as my deadline.

I didn't hear much, but there were a couple of themes that kept running through my mind. One was redemption. Our other kids have Hebrew names, but the Hebrew name meaning redemption was about as appealing to us as the name Smeagol, and sounds a bit like Smeagol, if I remember correctly. And, of course, this child is Chinese, so while we might get by with Benjamin, a Jewish-sounding name like Shmuel wasn't going to fly.

So, I looked at some Chinese words related to redemption. I found one that I liked--Jiushu--and asked one of my graduate students from China about it. She wasn't sure about it--I don't think she'd ever seen it used as a name--but said she'd think about it.

I continued to pray and decided that maybe a Chinese name wasn't such a good idea after all. My wife liked the idea of a name that begins with J (I can't imagine why) and suggested a couple of options, but I couldn't get excited about either one.

When the deadline came I had nothing. But we weren't quite ready to send in the paperwork, as we had to wait for some money to be transferred to our checking account. This was to happen Thursday, February 24, so we had a few more days to come up with a name.

On this very Thursday, our day of decision, my Chinese student approached me and brought up the name Jiushu again. The first character means "to save," and the second means "to redeem," as when a person who has sold something precious goes to buy it back. As we talked, I was puzzled by some of the English words she was using as she discussed Chinese names--the word "grace," for example. I asked about this, and it turns out that she's a believer and was part of a house church in China. And she had come to love this name, Jiushu.

This was good enough for me. Sometimes God speaks directly, but other times he communicates more subtly, orchestrating circumstances in such a way that we can hear, if we listen closely, the unmistakable sound of his music in the background. 

My Chinese student wrote the following later that day:
I did not know that you had been praying for X's new name for a while. But, again, God is amazing. He changed my mind at the last minute. I began to love the name Jiushu the day before yesterday. At first, I was trying to find a synonym for Jiushu but did not get a good one. Then I was trying to find some Chinese friends to help me but also failed to find a right person (because he/she has to be a Christian, sensitive to words and able to understand what I mean and want ^_^). I did not have any clue until Tuesday. And suddenly, after comparing Jiushu to other words I found, I felt that no other names can be a replacement for Jiushu. It is not only unique but makes perfect sense to me. I am so glad that you and your wife both love it. I am actually excited because God answered your prayer before you sent your paperwork!! God is an expert of perfect timing -- I know this because He often makes the right thing happen at the right time and "saves my life"!
We like this name because it captures, as much as any word can, what God does for us. And we pray that Jiushu will demonstrate through his own life, in whatever God calls him to do, that our God saves and redeems.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Our boy has a name

Now, I'm really not trying to be a tease. . . but I'm not going to actually tell you his name in this post, because I want my husband to write about it.  It's a pretty cool story.  I will tell you this:  as unique names go, this one's a winner.  You have NOT heard this name, and you may have trouble pronouncing it at first glance.  But you'll get over it, said the gal whose name is often mispronounced even though it sounds exactly like it looks.  (Hooked on phonics and so on.)  Why?  Because we decided to give our boy a Chinese name.  Not the one he was given by the orphanage.  A new one.  That we chose.  And we think it's terrific! 
Stay tuned. . .

Assuming DH was able to navigate through our fresh dumping of snow (sheesh, enough already) to get to the post office, our assignment packet, along with the mother of all checks, should be on its way to Holt today. 

Still waiting for LOA.  50 days.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Update on baby X

We received an update on our little boy today!  According to orphanage staff, X is 29 inches tall and weighs 22 pounds.  I have to admit I'm skeptical about those measurements.  He's 9.5 months old, remember.  I find it hard to believe he could really weigh 22 pounds!  Maybe if he was weighed with all his clothing on. . . he's wearing a LOT of clothing in those photos. 

Here's part of the report: 
His CHD is slight and doesn’t affect his daily life. He is health[y] and he receives specially care from the caregiver. The caregiver only takes care of him.  He can sit alone and can stand by holding. He is babbling. He can shake his head. According to the orphanage, he is clever than his peers in same age.
Well, of course he's clever!  He's gonna fit right in.  ;o)  I'm not sure how to interpret "the caregiver only takes care of him," but sounds like a wonderful thing to me.   

Look, mama!  I'm wearing plaid again! 

Can't wait to see the little body under all those clothes!

Finished the photo album

We're allowed to send a small photo album to X in China.  I finally finished putting it together, and will mail it to our agency later this week.  It's pretty homespun (and I don't mean that in a good way), but I think it will convey what it needs to:  that X has a family waiting for him and that we love him already! 

We still have no name for our boy!  ARGH.  At this point we may be submitting paperwork with his Chinese name only and adding a first name after he's adopted.  Unless DH and I can magically come to consensus in the next two days. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What's in a name?

Not too much to report these days.  We are still waiting for LOA (Letter of Acceptance).  It's been 41 days.  So it could arrive today, tomorrow, or not for three more weeks. 

We applied for another grant.  A friend, also adopting from China, told me about it.  Seems to be a quick, easy process (unlike many grant applications which require three years' worth of tax returns, multiple letters of recommendation, and vials of blood from each family member); we pray, as always, that God will grant favor and supply all we need.  Woo-hoo!  I know the Ultimate Grant-Giver! 

That brings us to the name dilemma.  DH and I have the hardest time naming our children.  I'm sure that probably indicates something about indecision, a troubled psyche. . . or we're just really, really picky about names.  My name is Jerusha, and our children's names are similarly unique.  So if you've heard of a particular name more than about once, it's a good bet we won't be using it.  None of this "I-can-name-seventeen-other-children-who-share-my-kid's-name" business.   We're supposed to submit our son's chosen name to our agency any moment now.  But so far?  Total blank, other than retaining his Chinese name as a middle name.  Actually, I have ceded this naming responsibility to DH, who has, at times, felt he is little more than the check-writer in this adoption affair.  (We've been working through this.  Ouch.)  A little hard for me to keep my hands off it, though.  Not like I have any brilliant suggestions of my own.  I'm just eager to name our son (great blog post here), hopeful that will make him seem a bit more real.  We do believe God will reveal the right name to us, soon--the first of many gifts we'll bestow on our son.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why we're adopting

When we began our adoption process and applied to our agency back in June 2010, I wrote here about the impetus for our decision.  I thought perhaps it was time to give some more specific and personal reasons. 

The need is tremendous.  Here.  There.  Everywhere.  It is said there are 143 million orphans in the world.  Many (most) of these are not currently eligible to be adopted.  But thousands are.

Why not adopt out of the US foster care system at this time?  The vast majority of US children already eligible for adoption are older, much older than our kids.  We do not wish to disrupt the birth order of our children, which means adopting a very little one--younger than 18 months.  Beyond that, I can only tell you that when we began considering adoption, we were drawn immediately to international adoption.  In the future. . . perhaps.

Why China?  There were plenty of logistical concerns, such as cost, time spent in-country, and length and stability of adoption process.  There are some countries from which we simply don't qualify to adopt.  And others which only had older children available.  China's Special Needs program was a good fit.  For many years, there has been a steady stream of beautiful Chinese girls finding new homes with adoptive families here in the US and around the globe.  The wait to adopt a "healthy" (no known medical needs) infant from China has now increased to over five years.  Parents whose dossiers were received in China in late May 2006 just recently received referrals for their new daughters.  In contrast, our dossier was sent to China in December 2010.  We were matched with our darling boy in January 2011, and will travel to adopt him this summer. If we travel in June, our process will have taken 12 months, start to finish. 

If you are interested in understanding more about the current adoption culture in China, I encourage you to read this blog post; it's actually a summary of a talk given by Amy Eldridge, the director of Love Without Boundaries, an amazing organization helping orphans.  Keep reading, past the main post and into the comments section.  While the post is a summary written by the blog author, Amy Eldridge herself comments (twice) and gives further information.  This is truly the clearest explanation I've read.  Sad, yes, but eye-opening.  Many people have a very limited understanding of Chinese adoption:  one child only policy, only girls are given up for adoption, etc.  It's really far more complex than that now.

Last summer, after we had already started our adoption process, one of our pastors spoke in church about living a "radical" life. . . specifically about allowing our children to see, up close and personal, what it means to live a radical life.  For us, adoption is that.  Some days I ask myself, "Are we crazy?  Seriously.  Are we?"  Yeah.  Probably a little.  We are literally emptying our bank accounts, not saving for the future (for the time being) like we should be, and have chosen to go without some things that many Americans consider essential to a decent, happy lifestyle.  And even then we still can't afford this adoption.  We're not trying to "commend ourselves to you" (as Paul wrote); just telling you how it is.  Adopting this child, for us, is a bold act of obedience, one we are walking out in front of our children, our families, and everyone else who knows us.  A giant, scary leap of faith--financially, emotionally.  We have no choice but to expect God to provide everything we need so that we can do what He's asked us to do.  It'll be fun to see how He plans to do that.  Yeah, I said fun! 

Our baby X was found by police in front of a hospital, wrapped in a red quilt.  He was three days old.  He had an urgent medical need, and underwent corrective surgery when he was 14 days old.  He was later found to have a (minor, we believe) heart defect.

He waits for us in an orphanage on the eastern coast of China.  No longer one of faceless millions.  He will become a beloved son.  A cherished brother, grandson, nephew.  Given a new last name.  A new identity.  Ours.  Forever.

I can't wait to get to know him.  Can't wait to be his mom.

That's why we're adopting.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A grab bag post

Gong Xi Fa Cai!  Happy Chinese New Year!  Our family went to a Chinese New Year fair at a local community college this past weekend.  It wasn't exactly worth the drive, but we enjoyed being together as a family.  We saw many adoptive families there; I longed to identify with them, to shout out enthusiastically, "Us too!  Us too!"  My husband and I discussed what we heard in our adoptive parenting class (and have read since)--that adopted children benefit from identifying with other adopted children, not just other children of their same ethnicity.  Of course, to do both would be a bonus!  And I think we'll be able to provide those connections for our son.  Next Chinese New Year, I'd rather get together with some other families and their adopted Chinese children. . . eat some Chinese food. . . wear our Chinese silks. . . I'm looking in your direction, Aldridges, Gilkesons (and anyone else who wants to join in).

A. learning to write a Chinese character

My sweet fam...and the most decent photo we've taken in a while
In other news, God has been opening doors for us to lead worship together (DH and I), in answer to some very specific prayers.  It is often quite difficult to move forward in, or even to pursue at any level of involvement, the gifts and callings placed upon one's life when family and young children must be a priority.  A well-meaning friend once told me, "You have babies now.  This just isn't your season."  Well, sort of.  And also, no.  There are seasons of hiddenness, times to hunker down and give sole focus to the thing(s) most pressing.  For instance (and I'm just speaking completely hypothetically here), the baby who needs to nurse every 72 minutes. 

But parenthood doesn't permanently nullify every other design the Father has for me.  Or for you.  I am inspired by the women I see around me--some of them mothers of a great many children!--operating in their gifts and callings and interests (because YES, God cares about those, too).  Running t-shirt companies, advocating for adoption and encouraging adoptive families, writing (beautifully), taking really great photos.  And I could go on and on. We have become passionate about people discovering what they were made to do. . . the unique ways God shines through them. . . and then doing those things with joy!  Serving God is often hard work, yes, but should not be soul-draining drudgery.  As we prepare to add a fourth child to our family, my goal is to expend my energy on things that are most fruitful and most life-giving, to me and to others.  I don't have time to do otherwise.  

So DH and I are thankful for the recent opportunities to do, as a couple, what we were created to do.  Last night we led worship at Northland House of Prayer.  The Holy Spirit showed up in a special way.  We look forward to more.

And we're thankful to my parents, who lovingly care for our children so we can pursue that which gives life to the soul and spirit (and that includes date-night).  It really does "take a village."