Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bedtime Routines

Every night I have the joys of tucking my three precious babies into bed. It's different for each of them.... With Cade we chat a little on his futon before he climbs up his loft and then leans over the side to give me kisses. Alayna snuggles in tight and I sit beside, rubbing her back, while she shares her feelings of missing family back in Iowa or the excitement she has for something happening at school the next day. But for Paisley, we still get full cuddles in the rocking chair, singing lullabies, reading stories .... And most recently, talking. 

She is nearly 3 1/2 now and full of conversation. Tonight as I reflected back on the last week I've had with her home and the older two in school, I told her how proud I was of her good behavior, and I genuinely shared with her how much fun I've had hanging out. 

She proceeded to ask about whether daddy and I like snuggling with her - a clear connection to my previous statements. I followed along with her train of thought, and confided that it's some of our favorite moments, but that I was feeling sad with how fast she was growing. I told her I was proud to be her mama and watch her grow big. And I explained that sometimes it hurt to know she wasn't my little baby anymore. 

And with that, she pulled her thumb from her mouth, looked up at me and said: "I'll always have time for you, mommy."

{sigh} I hope so, sweetie. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Sign from God

Our foster/adoption story is one that has been an emotional road for our family. Finally coming to terms with all that has been weighed, and then our final decisions, has been more than difficult. Here's a little insight to the raw emotions and feelings that we've battled as individuals, soulmates, parents and a family.... 

Within just a couple months of taking in Liam, we learned a lot about our family and the connections built around relationships. Relations that don’t have to be blood, marriage or ancestral, but instead focused entirely around love and genuine caring. Fostering does that. It allows you to engross your mind and heart into the guts of human nature. To truly feel a love and a connection to someone that God hands you in a totally different form than your biological children. 

And that happened with Liam in our home. In less than three short months, our discussions moved from fostering to adoption. What would it cost us? What does the process look like? How long will it take? Is this the right thing for our family? Soon, we were attending a class about submitting a dossier, and it was then, March 16, that I verbally committed - aloud - in the presence of others, that we were beginning the adoption process. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Most Difficult Good-Bye Yet

The string of good-byes continued through the weekend. Four nights of dinners in a row with amazing family friends who were planning repatriation. Each night we left with a “see you tomorrow” because no one wanted to actually say the words “good-bye”. But, as expected, the night came, at a great dinner-out-spot, where we spent over 3 hours chatting around the dinner table, before paying our bill and following each other through the high-end shopping center. Finally we reached that point where we were required to part ways - hugging endlessly, high-fiving, waving, blowing kisses, and walking backwards until we one of us turned the corner. It was less than glorious and a moment I’ll probably never forget. 

But, we’ve promised to rekindle somehow, sometime, someway. We have that power to ensure it’s not the end. Maybe we’ll some day live nearby, the kids will visit, or our anticipated annual girls weekend will come to fruition.

Unfortunately, the ending wasn’t the same with our recent farewell to Liam. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

My People

Two years ago, we left Cedar Rapids, Iowa for this journey around the world. I recall bawling my eyes out, wondering why in God's name we would ever choose this path. I was saying good-bye to my family, my best friends, a career I loved, and a neighborhood that fit us all too well. I felt like my world was coming to a halt and I had no control... yet we were choosing this for ourselves.

After just 6 months, we watched the first wave of friends leave, but we were continuing to explore this life that I never knew existed, watching our children blossom more than ever possible if we remained in our hometown, and routinely traveling the world and visiting "home". I've now grown accustomed to our life in China. We have adapted to not being available for every family event, catching up through video calls with crappy internet signals, and appreciating what our home country has to offer. We've learned to love the people within our four walls stronger, and we've become patient with the differences among cultures. We've toured and learned ... truly learned ... the whys and hows that people were raised and what they believe.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Experiencing the Local Healthcare

Medical appointment after medical appointment... I can tell you that one place that I don't favor in China is the local hospital. But before I share my story, know that this entry is not about a bash on the system here. It's a different way of payment. A different way of healthcare. A different way of governing. More than anything, it has made me grateful for the system and parameters we do have in place in America. My story, below, is a cry out for the people that have to walk the local process without a choice.

Our little guy has been going through serial casting since Jan, to assist in the range of motion in his knee. For me that means taking him to a local children's hospital every week to have one cast removed, and another put on. The process isn't so simple though.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Xin Nian Kuai Le!!

Happy Chinese New Year! Which means a lot of red, many fireworks, and an abundance of celebration around Shanghai. This festival allows the Chinese to start fresh with new fortune and wealth. They clean away all the bad, by literally floor sweeping homes, and thus allowing good luck to be brought in. Following the lunar calendar, each year is represented by a different zodiac sign; and 2016 is the year of the monkey! I'm a monkey child too, meaning I'm smart, witty, and confident, but stubborn. Hmmm, I am sure some of that might be true!

As part of the festival celebration, Paisley's preschool put together a program parade at a local hotel. She was a little timid walking the red carpet with the many attendees watching over her, but as soon as she found her sweet little friend, it was all smiles!

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Decision

The fostering process happened rather quickly for us once we met with a couple different medical foundations. It was clear that the need was there, and we were ready; but the questions became real. We were "choosing" a child. And against all that I am, and all that I believed in, I found myself really, truly "choosing" one child over another. Whether based on the sweet smiling (or screaming) faces peering back at me, the medical condition in which they've been diagnosed with, the rehabilitation phases that were to come, the orphanage or province in which they came from, or the behavior and interaction between our kids... I began analyzing so many factors that played a role in the selection of a child.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Living our Passion

One thing holds true here in China... life is a journey that is unpredictable and often unplanned. Our journey changes frequently, and we've learned to become very adaptable to each day being different from the days past.

And, so we started another new journey recently. A journey that was pretty much a fairy tale just two years ago. At that time, I had recently quit my job, we were planning to move to China, and I knew that I'd need to find something to continue embarking on my non-profit, charity heart. I dreamt that we'd settle in Shanghai, and I'd devote my time to orphaned children waiting for an ounce of attention, love, and touch.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Eight Years of Sweetness

Somewhere along the lines, this little princess of ours turned into a young lady who is fun to hang with, full of smiles and giggles, and lots of silliness. She has a compassionate heart and a caring spirit, and she loves to help with anything she can. Did I mention her responsibility and maturity? She is growing too fast, even getting contacts on our last trip home. So proud of her!!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Holiday Hustle

We're half way done with this adventure of living across the world, and one thing remains true... I love going home! The holidays were extra special this year partly because we hadn't really intended on going back to America. Initially our hearts and sights were set on traveling and utilizing the nearly three week break to see the world.

But then the reality sunk in: A) we can't honestly afford to travel for three weeks, and B) how do you celebrate Christmas without your family, and snow, the fresh pine smell of a real Christmas tree, or a well-written homily by a Father who pours his heart and soul into priesthood, and C) were we truly ready to wait 10 months before seeing our nieces, siblings and parents? No way!