Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sharing the Joys of Adoption

    "Our words are like seeds dropped along the road.  We may never know what beautiful things will take root and blossom because we were there. But we can be sure that something good will grow"

Recently we were asked to share our story with our Adoption Agency, Children's Hope International, and have been thinking long and hard about how we might put into words such an emotional and powerful experience.  We have so much to tell others who ask us about adoption- it's hard to describe in words alone- but here it goes.  We always knew we would adopt, and it mostly came down to timing.  After a sudden death in the family we realized life was too short to postpone our dreams.  Three months later we applied for the China Special Needs program through Children's Hope International.  Looking back it seems so long ago, we were so excited and so very na├»ve. Oh, but what a wonderful time and part of our story that we will cherish. First time parents- dreaming about the day we would meet our daughter, knee deep in paperwork and wondering how we could afford the cost.  We remained determined and focused.  Although it wasn't easy and delays were inevitable, looking back this was the easiest part of our journey.

After seeing our daughters face for the first time, life changed forever.  It would never be the same. We waited 5 months before we could travel to meet her, and we only had 3 photos.  This was when it became HARD.  How do you wait patiently to get your child?  I am sorry, but only others who have been there done that- truly can understand this period of adoption.  IT IS HARD.  All your thoughts are consumed in wondering and praying if your child is being loved, fed, and taken care of while you wait to travel.  It is heart wrenching to wait and know they are growing older, they are alone without a mother and father, in an orphanage across the world.  There is nothing we could do but TRUST.  Those 5 months were challenging but gave us many life lessons.  This is a standard with international adoption - after a referral, the paperwork in both countries takes some time.  For us this stage was the HARDEST.  But like many of life's challenging experiences- looking back we think it wasn't that bad- we could do it again in a heartbeat.

The most joyous part of adoption...holding our baby for the first time. That day will forever be engrained in my memory- like any mother meeting their child for the first time.  There are no words to describe the overwhelming feeling of love. Our story has been easy ever since, Lottie was able to adapt to her new lifestyle immediately.  She was strong and obviously well loved in her orphanage.  We experienced attachment and bonding almost immediately.  She was healthy and happy, and with our love began thriving even faster.  She has been a joy to be around even on her toughest days, whether it be recovering from surgery, or sick with a double ear infection.  Yes, we are biased, but she is one amazing child.  We are so blessed to be her parents, and not a day goes by that we don't think about the gift we have been given.

One story that comes to mind, was after her lip repair about 4 months home from China we had been using signs to help Lottie communicate, one sign we were using constantly was I love you, we said it all the time and always showed her the sign.  Even after 36 hours whirlwind of surgery and recovery, driving 4 hours home, Lottie was so happy to be home.  She was exhausted, heavily medicated, and weak as she hadn't eaten much in the past few days.  We laid her in her crib and hovered over as she smiled at us, we were admiring her new look.  We told her how brave she was and how happy we were to be home, we said I love you.  Honestly, like a scene from a movie, this tiny hand reached up and signed  I love you,  then closed her eyes as was fast asleep.  It took our breath away- like that moment you can't feel your legs, might pass out, overwhelmed by love, this can't be happening moment.  This tiny being reached out to us told us she loved us, never in my life will I ever forget that moment, EVER.

Although, our story has been seamless after meeting Lottie we cannot simply forget about her past or the millions of other children who remain in orphanages around the world.   Adoption changes your life, it touches your soul to realize the depth of raising someone else's child as your own,  and we are so grateful we were chosen to raise Charlotte Lee.  Our lives will forever be changed by our adoption, as it has made us more thoughtful, gracious and giving individuals.  So many people tell us how lucky Charlotte is to have us as parents, to become a US citizen, and to have proper medical care, but honestly we are the LUCKY ones to be blessed with this precious, strong, and loving child.  We are confident she is going to change this world for the better, we look forward to the honor of being her parents and watching her grow into an amazing woman.  We are so very lucky.  In the end, we would do this a million times over again, the reward is so much greater than the struggles.  We WILL adopt again and again.  We will spend our lifetime trying to make a difference in the orphans lives around the world, most important teaching our children about God's love and compassion for those in need.  We will continue to share our story, in hopes it will inspire others to choose adoption to build their families. 


This year has been our best one yet!  We have so many things to be THANKFUL for, and decided to dedicate a post of 30 things we are thankful for in 2013!

We are Thankful for

1) our blessing Lottie Lee, she is a gift from God and we treasure every moment
2) the love & support from our family & friends we received throughout our entire adoption
3) Lottie's surgical team in Dallas, especially the talented Dr. Hobar 
4) Lottie's health and development since arriving home
5) our health, given our new allergies, we are grateful for good medical care & epi-pens
6) a healthy and uneventful pregnancy
7) the soon to be arrival of our second child
8) our exciting and stable careers- we both love what we do
9) life in the USA- visiting a Communist Country makes you realize how lucky we are
10) our beautiful house, which has truly become a home
11) our parents- not sure what we would do without them! they are the BEST Grandparents!
12) the simple unscripted moments of parenthood
13) Lottie's happy, and charming personality- she is a joy
14) all those who have prayed for our family this year and throughout our adoption process
15) holiday traditions
16) Lottie's healthy blood drawls and vaccinations
17) our pediatrician Dr. Enders, whom we adore
18) our neighborhood- Teravista, and all the yearly child friendly activities
19) our strong marriage- we have learned form the best-70 years of marriage combined
20) Elmo- watching Lottie fall in love with this fuzzy red character makes life sweeter
21) all those who helped us financially throughout our adoption
22) completing a debt free adoption
23) our adoption agency Children's Hope International
24) friends who are like family
25) life in Texas, and the wonderful Spring, Summer, and Fall seasons we had this year
26) our crazy dogs Benton & Crawford who are adapting to life with Lottie
27) the adoption community, we have gained so many wonderful new friends
28) baby belly kicks
29) laughter with a two year old- priceless
30) experiencing firsts with Lottie- first steps, first time to the beach, first words

Wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving, we are looking forward to spending the weekend with family, taking in the simple moments and just enjoying the present.  We have so much to be grateful for this year!  Thank you to everyone!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Month Eight

This month we have witness an explosion of language which makes this Speech Therapist Mama proud!  Lottie uses signs to communicate with us, she signs 20-30 different signs regularly but knows at least 50 signs (mostly nouns- animals are her favorite). She understands most simple directions-"like get your shoes, where's Elmo? and let's go bye-bye" but until lately her only words were Elmo and Lola ( her grandma- although for the longest time she uses Lola to refer to phone- ha! tells you who Mama talks to all the time). 

Honestly, I was torn the Mama side of me felt she was making good progress and I didn't want to push her, but the Speech Therapist side of me was getting extremely nervous knowing her receptive language was improving but her expressive was severely delayed  
(like age appropriate of a 9-12 month old baby).  Of course we would expect a delay due to her cleft palate but we still would expect more babbling and attempts to use more verbal language.  We had heard her make sounds but she was not making the connection to use as speech.  All of these speech milestones are so important as little ones develop speech and language skills.

I am glad I followed my Mama instincts to give her some time, because sure enough it did come!  Lottie is now imitating and babbling many new sounds.  She is saying Elmo, Mama, Dada, Hello, Bye,  No, and More.  She is making more animal sounds- which is an important speech skills as well!  I am so proud of her! Hearing her use words especially hello and bye just makes my day!  I cannot wait until her palate is finally repaired and she will really be able to talk!  Something tells me given her outgoing, happy, and funny personality we are going to be hearing many funny stories in our future.  

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Orphan Sunday 11/03/13

"I always questioned if I was ready to adopt and then realized no child was ready to be an orphan" ~Unknown

Many churches and organizations have hosted “Orphan Sundays” over the years, and thousands of churches across the country are observing Orphan Sunday this weekend. It's a day meant to encourage Christians to consider adopting.  Today on November 3rd is an opportunity for believers all across America to speak for those unspoken for; those the world has forgotten. There are millions of orphans in the world.  It is estimated there are between 143 million and 210 orphans worldwide.  

Adoption is not for everyone, and never would we want to portray that everyone should adopt because that is not the solution.  Adoption is a miracle. but it is not easy.  If adoption is not an option for your family there are things you can do! We love the saying... "Adopt..if you can't adopt, Foster...if you can't foster, Sponsor...if you can't sponsor, Volunteer...if you can't volunteer, Donate...if you can't donate, Educate"  There are so many ways to lend in the orphan crisis and trust your commitment is valued no matter how you may be able to help.  If you want more information about international adoption-we will be happy to answer your questions and tell you the facts, or interested in fostering- we'd love to direct you to friends who have been there done that, or if you are interested in supporting reputable organizations that care for orphans-we can share some of our favorites, if you would like to support families currently in the adoption process-we'd love to connect you. 

We knew our lives would be touched by adoption, but we never truly understood the depth of this statement.  Adoption has changed how we view the world, others, and how we can give back to those in need.  There is not much else we can put into words...we will let these photos tell our story.

"When you say YES to adoption, you are saying YES to enter the suffering of the orphan, and that suffering includes WAITING for you to get them.  I promise you, their suffering is worse than yours. We say YES to the tears, YES to the longing, YES to the maddening process, YES to the money, YES to the hope, YES to the screaming frustration of it all, YES to going the distance  through every unforeseen discouragement and delay."
 -Jen Hatmaker

BUT YES we can promise you IT IS WORTH EVERY MOMENT!  IF you are thinking about adoption in any way, feel free to reach out to us!  We would love to share our knowledge and support!