Sunday, November 7, 2010

Orphan Sunday

On this day, there are approximately 147 million children in the world who have no family. They sit in foster homes, orphanages and institutions dreaming of being held, being loved and being able to call someone Mommy and Daddy. Some of them rock themselves to sleep at night, some try to survive by stealing food, while others close down, knowing that their cries will go unheeded.

And like countless times, I think about them, pray for them, and ask God for help in aiding just one more child to come home in the arms of a loving family. My role is minute. But I will do what I can to help bring them home, and I pray that maybe one day he will expand my territory.

But mostly today, I am thinking about my children's birth mothers. I cannot imagine the social and political turmoil they faced during their pregnancies, yet each choosing to give my children life. Then, the pain and sacrifice in saying goodbye. One in the middle of the night, under the cover of darkness. The other, while her child was clinging to life in an incubator. Each not knowing what would become of her child, hoping for a better life, but not knowing what that would mean.

The perspective of the birthmother did not truly occur to me until we were finally coming home after an arduous fourteen days of hard travel, new parenthood and no sleep. We were on a bus in Guangzhou, China headed for the airport. We were going home, and Sophia was leaving her homeland and that reality struck me. Thoughts of Sophia's loss and her birthmother's loss would not let me loose. A woman carried my daughter, hid her pregnancy so that she would not be forced to abort her child, and gave birth to her. Who was with her, did she have help, was she alone, was she scared, was her heart torn irreparably when she walked away? My daughter was laid to be found just a block from the orphange by a government building. Why did she choose that spot? Was she close by, watching for the moment Sophia was found? I was finally a mother, because of this woman's sacrifice, and I could suddenly feel her pain. It gripped me and I was forever changed. I immediately loved her with an odd intensity. She brought Sophia into this world despite the insurmountable challenges and hardships. She loved our child enough to give her life.

I had a dream about three years later that I met Sophia's birth mom. It felt so real, so authentic. She was a small Chinese lady with sad eyes, yet proud and independent, like our Sophia. I looked at her and through my sobs, I was able to tell her thank you. I have had a peace since that night. The dream came after beseeching God for years to give her peace and to whisper to her heart that Sophia is happy, healthy and loved beyond measure. Perhaps it was God's reply.

I have heard critics of adoption with arguments against it.

My reply to them is as follows: Thank God that He did not make arguments for not adopting us as his children. Without adoption into his family we would be languishing, with no hope, with no future, rocking ourselves to sleep, stealing others food, closing down - knowing our cries would go unheeded.

They would remain orphans if we did not come to them.

And love. This is LOVE.

It transcends race, culture and bloodlines.

And I celebrate all of the people who have made them who they are.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween 2010

Halloween has never been my favorite holiday. I mean, I just don't get it. Dressing up in scary outfits and begging for candy just never appealed to me. Of course, after having kids, I understand that they think it's fun, so we do all of the required festivities. It is fun with kids. Usually.

But today, oh today, was different. Why? Noah didn't have a nap. He's three. This is where all the parents out there say, "oooooohhhh, yeah. That's rough." He went hunting with Brian in the morning, slept in the car on the way back home for thirty minutes, and we went to our church's big annual Harvest Hoedown when they got home. Harvest Hoedown has lots of games, lots of inflatables, lots of candy, and lots of people. We went with some friends of ours - one of them being Sophia's friend Ben pictured in my previous post - and about midway through it, Sophia's attitude went south. Why? Best I can tell... Noah. See Noah loves Ben too, and Ben enjoys hanging out with Noah. Three's a crowd, and Sophia does not share well. So, that was great. But thankfully, they did have some fun.

After Hoedown, we came home and met up with some neighbors who have a tractor and trailer. Every year they have a big hayride for kids and their parents to ride while trick or treating. They are pretty amazing people. They have four young boys and still manage to organize the shindig - complete with chili, hot chocolate and lots of other goodies that everyone nibbles on while the kids do their thing. Here's a photo of the rig.

The first thirty minutes were great. We were all having a fantastic time. Then Noah decides to have a full tilt boogie 3 year old melt down over a piece of candy. The child screamed bloody murder, while all of these strangers looked on. I felt like mother of the year. Brian, thankfully, removed Noah from the wagon and had a man to man talk with him. And things were better, for a little while. Then, Sophia was running back to the tractor after coming from this house

fell and skinned her knee pretty badly. So, we played doctor to the wound and tried to get her back in the game. Reluctantly, she did. But it was about that time that Noah reverted back to throwing his candy fit, dropping hot chocolate in my lap, and being, let's say uncooperative. Brian opted to walk him home. So, I, happy to not be getting screamed at, turned to enjoy Sophia, who was savoring some hot chocolate and poking at the cup, until she poked too hard and down poured the hot syrupy brown milk, all over her $60 cheerleading uniform, legs and shoes.

I was no longer feeling the Halloween "fun". A few more houses, and Soph and I hit the road for home to find Noah handing out candy to a swarm of kids. I do believe that was the most fun Noah had all day.

Now, the kids are asleep, and I am headed that way, glad that the next holiday is one of my favorites. Even if there is tantrum throwing and milk spilling, at least Thanksgiving is a holiday I can genuinely get my arms around - and there's not an excessive amount of candy involved throwing my overly tired children into sugar fits.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Kids

I was told today that my kids own my heart. I have to say it's true. Despite the obvious day to day frustrations of having two young children, my mind is usually wrapped around my kids. But then, what mother doesn't feel that way?

For those of you who don't know my kids, let me introduce you. First, meet Noah.

Ahhhh, Noah. I call him my angel sent straight down from heaven, by way of Korea. The child is pure joy. He is also determined, head-strong and has a rock-solid will. It isn't any wonder to me that he was born at 27 weeks and not only survived, but flourished. He will not be detered. Noah is full of life, full of love, full of humor and once someone meets him, they don't soon forget him! When he loves, he loves deep and strong. The first moment I saw him in Korea, I was in love with him. He was and is the piece of my heart that I didn't even know was missing until I held him for the first time. After he joined our family, my heart felt whole, complete. I believe that anyone who knows us well, knows that our bond is pretty special.

But I am not the only girl Noah loves. A year ago, at the ripe old age of 2 1/2, Noah met Samantha Jane at school. Samantha, at 18 months old, was a veteran at the preschool (her mom is the director). Since the first day, Samantha took Noah under her wing, mothered him, reassured him and tried to show him that school was fun. Now, it is safe to say, that they love each other. The first thing he asks every morning is, "am I going to see Samantha today?" and the first thing he does when he goes to school is ask, "where is Samantha?". The boy also has her picture framed on his bedside table. Every once in a while, he will look at it and tell her that he loves her "so much".

Her mother and I have discussed sending them to the same elementary school...

My Noah is all boy. He loves hunting, baseball, football, karate and wearing camo. For a while I couldn't get him to wear anything but camo. I even bought him camo underwear and camo shoes. Now, a friend of his wears jerseys everyday, and he is asking for jerseys.... And if you know me, you know that what the boy asks for, the boy gets.....

And then, there is my beautiful, smart, independent, sassy little girl, Sophia.

When Sophia came to us, she was one week shy of 12 months old. She, too, was a scrapper, though for different reasons than Noah. She was tiny: 26 inches tall and 16 pounds, but she was striking.

I always knew I would have Sophia. I wanted an Asian daughter since I was twelve, and I picked her name out sometime in my youth. When I met Brian, I told him that if he wanted to marry me, he would have to agree to adopting a daughter from Asia. Obviously, he did. Adopting her drove me for the first five years of our marriage. I spent hours looking at waiting child websites, completed my degree in social work so that I could work in the adoption field, researched programs and agencies and prayed for God to direct us to our daughter. In September of 2003, I felt that her birth mother was pregnant with her. We submitted our application on January 10, 2004, and she was born February 1, 2004. On December 13, 2004, we saw her picture for the first time.

My heart stood still. So many years of praying and dreaming of her and then finally seeing the child God had planned for us, it was nothing short of a miracle. I loved her instantly, but I always had. When I look at this picture now, I see the very essence of her. I know that face - every detail of it. I remember looking at it back then, studying her, trying to learn who she was, what she would be like, wondering if she would even like me.

She did - she loved me fervently and still does! That girl taught me what love is and how to love and what needing love feels like. Motherhood the first time was hard. Very hard. It was not what I expected. She was not what I expected - after nearly 20 years of dreaming about her. But she grabbed hold of me and did not give up on her very inept mother. Before she came to me, I asked God to prepare her heart for the changes in her life, but I never asked him to prepare mine - he had prepared hers enough for mine as well. I asked him for patience, and through becoming a mother, he taught it to me. Seeing who she has become and is becoming, brings me to tears - of joy. She is smart, intuitive, creative, ambitious, thoughtful, and deep. She loves learning, seeking answers, and excels in karate, gymnastics, chess and cheerleading. She is not scared of performing, singing, making toasts at weddings and trying new things. Sometimes she makes observations of a child twice her age. Sophia is an amazing person - in her own right - and I am so proud that I am privileged to be her mother.

So, yes, my children own my heart. I can not imagine my life without them.

Oh yeah, and Noah is not alone in finding love early .....

Lord have mercy!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New to Blogging

This is my first blog post, and honestly, I'm not quite sure what I am doing. I mean, I have already adopted my children, and do not plan to adopt again. Adoption blogs are so fun to read and follow when someone is on the journey to their child, and so heartwarming and exciting when they meet their child for the first time. I have been there twice myself, and professionally as an adoption social worker, I am privileged to help others on their journeys.

I have told my husband and a few friends that I plan to blog, and each have said to me, "What do you have to blog about?" First of all, thanks guys. I have a concept in mind. You see, I have had a passion for adoption since I was twelve, when I watch a network movie about a family adopting a child from Korea. It was the first time I saw the adoption story unfold, and I knew with a knowledge that can only be explained as God given, that adoption would be the purpose of my life. At twelve I knew that my children would come to me through adoption and that they would be Asian. At twelve I knew that I would not be able to conceive children, and I had a total peace. At twelve my passion for orphans began.

When I was a child I had alot of health issues and felt isolated much of the time. I talked to God alot. I remember summer days spent laying in the grass looking up at the clouds talking and listening to the Holy Spirit. He placed peace in my heart and there were things that I just trusted because I knew they came from Him. I knew He was real, and it is by His grace that I am who I am today.

So, that is what this blog is about. My passion for orphans and adoption. My passion for my children and family moments. My heart for Jesus and what I believe is on His heart in this world we live in today. I feel that many times adoption is looked at as a way to have children when one is infertile. But it is so much more than that. It is part of God's plan for the fatherless, the lonely, the innocent. It is part of God's plan for us. It's an amazing life and an amazing journey, and I am so blessed and thankful that it's part of every facet of mine.