Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Second Anniversary of my 25th Birthday!

Today, hard to believe, I am 50 years old. I really don't feel like I am 50, but here it is! Matt made me a great Shutterfly book with all kinds of pictures of when I was little, when the kids were born, and pictures of all the places I lived (including my dorms at Kutztown!) He included all kinds of captions, poems, etc. What an amazing husband I have! I am so lucky to have met him in 1982! We both have off today...we are going out to lunch with the kids, then they are going to make me dinner. All R&R today...
I sure loved those red dresses!
June 1984
Matt and I, summer 82

Me in the sunglasses

Adding some pictures from my book to share!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Thirty-six moons....or 3 years since "Gotch Day"

Thirty six moons have passed since the day we met our Sophie WuMei, and I decided to post the poem I wrote for her before we traveled to get her. The picture of the moon was taken over the Great Wall...the same moon that we see looks over the children in a  land where there are so many tears shed for the children who are left...where families often leave their children out of love, and desperation, not out of thoughtlessness or selfishness. 

As I celebrate this day in my heart, I also know that somewhere in  China a woman mourns the curly-haired, spirited, loving child she left  in a noodle factory on a warm April day. If I could tell her, I would thank her for this child, for her stubbornness that perhaps she got from her father, her amazing sense of humor that might resemble her mother's. I would promise her that she will always be loved and taken care of. I would tell her how amazingly bright and courageous she is, that she can hear now, and one of her favorite things to say is "Are you kidding me?" I would tell her that she loves having a family, and loves being able to say "I Love You".

I would thank her for loving Sophie so much that she gave her the chance for a life, and a future. Something tells me that Sophie will make for herself quite a future...

To: Sophie WuMei
from your Forever Mama
February 2008

Was there a full moon hanging high in the sky,
the Spring night when you were born?
And were you held tight in your China-Mama's arms...
Did she promise to keep you from harm?

And how many moons rose high in the sky and shone brightly overhead,
as you learned how to smile,
to crawl and to walk,
and were tucked safely each night into bed?

And was there a full moon on that night full of tears
as she kissed you and silently knew, 
that before the sun rose and a new day would dawn,
she would say good-bye to you.

And how many moons brightened the sky
in a world so scary and new? 
Did you wait in the silence and wonder
if ever a family would ever love you?

Now twelve moons have risen and shone in the sky
since the first time we saw your sweet smile. 
We filled out the papers...so many papers!
and prayed for you all the while.

We sailed through the sky, as high as the moon, 
closer and closer we flew.
We watched the sun set on the world we have known
as it rose in the world known to you.

Before one more moon rises high in the sky, 
before one more sun fades away, 
you will be our child, our light and our life, 
and we will never go away.

As each new moon rises for the rest of your life, 
remember this promise today:
You will forever be loved 
and held tight in my arms...

I love you, my Sophie WuMei.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A letter from Maeleigh

I was thrilled to open my email the other day and find a letter to us from WuShuang! Here is the actual letter so that you can see how she illustrated it, and then the translation. We are all so excited about it.
In the meantime we are moving along with paperwork, fingerprinting, medical reports, etc. Amazing how much we have to pull together...and a letter like this makes you do it even faster.

Dear Dad, Mom and Brothers and Sisters,

How are you? I am so glad to receive your letter!
I love this big family and love all of you!
It has made me very excited to know that my sister likes art and painting.  I like painting very much!
I hope to enjoy your warm family as soon as possible!

Wu Shuang

Sunday, February 13, 2011

We have been busy getting things together to finish the homestudy. Our homestudy for Shane was out of date so we had to renew it, but China has agreed to accept Shane's dossier in order to help move along the process. The other day we went to our family doctor for medical reports, and he was completely dumbfounded that we were doing this. In his defense, he was very supportive, and congratulated us a number of times. After he had asked us a few questions, he said "Wait until you have some in college!" When we told him we already had two in college, his mouth dropped open, and he just stared at us and then shook his head and walked out of the room!
Speaking of kids in college, both Mick and Sarah are coming home next weekend, as they both have to get fingerprinted in PA. It's a part of the process, and anyone over 18 in the home needs to be fingerprinted, so I get the added benefit of having them home for the weekend. And since next Tuesday is the second anniversary of my 25th birthday (you do the math!) it's extra special for me.
Last night Matt and I got out for a much-needed bite to eat on our own! It was great to go to one of our favorite little places, not fancy, just a little beef n' ale place with great sandwiches. We spent a lot of time talking about Shane, and how he is doing. When Matt and I met Shane in October 09, he was flung over the back of his foster mother, suspended in air.When she put him on the floor, he fell to the ground.I honestly thought he had CP and no one told us. We were shocked and devastated. H could barely walk and did not respond to anything that was said to him in Chinese.

Shane was in shock for more than six months at home, and so were we. He had to learn how to do everything, as if he was an infant. We had to change our expectations, and as a family we had to regroup. We did not get sleep for months, literally, and still sometimes at 2 am or so he is known to break out into song...not fun at our age!

But, to witness the transformation he has made has been a gift from God. Where he could not even climb steps (we literally had to walk behind him and work his legs, and support his back) he now not only climbs the steps, does not hold on, and alternates feet, once he reaches the top of the stairs and finds the baby gate locked, he climbs onto the railing, lifts up one foot and pops the top of the baby gate to open it up! He is so funny. Nothing gets in his way! His blindness does not affect him in many ways.Of course, it severely affects his learning, but we often forget that he is blind when we see what he does. And his capacity to love is amazing. He finds me wherever I am in the house, and if I am sitting at the computer, he comes right up to me and snuggles on my lap. He and Matt have a wonderful relationship, and oh, how he loves to play with Matt! His laugh is worth every minute of sleepless night (well, not EVERY minute)...

Here are some pictures of Shane ....
Listening to Mom

Always happy in Meghan's arms!

Shane at 2...you can see how he was holding on to the chair. He could not walk then, and probably could barely sit by himself

Sad to think how much time he spent on this hard bed...

Love that smile!

How lucky to be the parents of this little boy!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Every Spiritual Blessing

Well, if you have noticed above, we have added WuShuang's American name to the blog. After much discussion with the girls (Mick doesn't so much care, nor does his opinion on this carry much weight with the girls!) we have decided on a name for WuShuang. Everyone agreed we needed an "M" name as we have more 'S' names now, and we wanted something that would fit her and still have an element of her Chinese heritage. So, the name "Maeleigh" has won as the favorite.

Yesterday we got an update on Maeleigh's height and weight. Amazingly, she is only an inch taller than Sophie, and pretty much is her same shoe size! We were told we will be able to take her wheelchair and crutches with us as they are hers, which is a great help. She will use the crutches a lot, and the wheelchair when needing to go longer distances. Since China is not always handicapped accessible, should be interesting!

Reactions are coming in fast and furious, some pretty much down-right nasty. Oh well, much to be expected, actually, but hurtful nonetheless, especially when they are directed at the kids. We have talked with them about how people do not 'get it' and we don't have to worry about that, but be prepared for it. We are not asked to do what we have to do because it is popular, but because it it the right thing for us to do. What a life lesson, to see how clearly the way the world rears its ugly head at families who believe in adoption, and the need to help orphans, and try to sabotage what they are doing. Truly, I don't care what people do with their money, their family planning, or their free time...why do they care so much about all of the above for my family?

The truth is, as anyone who has adopted  once, let alone three times, knows that while much thought and prayer goes into the decision, once the decision is made, it seems crazy to have ever thought there was another option. And to give a child a forever family, if you have the chance to do that, and to be given every spiritual blessing that will help you to accomplish the hard things, how easy is that to do? Pretty darn easy.
So, relax, rest of the world. While you shake your heads, tell all your friends about how crazy we are, how ridiculous this decision, how we are not thinking straight; we are adding bunkbeds to rooms, making up scrapbooks, planning for schools and tutors, and preparing our hearts and lives for loving another one of God's precious children. How lucky we are to be asked to do this again.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and has made the
    Lord his hope and confidence.
                                                                                      - Jeremiah 17:7

Maeleigh WuShuang, on left, two years ago

Saturday, February 5, 2011

...if anyone had ever told me...

... if anyone had ever told me we would be adopting our third child, I can honestly say, I would not have been surprised!  A couple more, and I WILL have my baseball team.  I just have to figure out where they're all gonna play!  Shane will be the toughest, since he will not want to ever put the ball back into play...  I thought we were happy before, that was nothing compared to our lives now.  Some days (and nights) it is absolute madness... nothing worse than going to work on 3 or 4 hours sleep... but, when you see how happy these kids are, it makes up for everything.  Lucky for me, I married the woman I did... she is certainly doing her best to keep me young!  When I hear people talking about their problems, how they are going to figure out where to go on vacation, which new car they are going to buy, I actually feel sorry for them.  Those things will never buy them happiness.  I don't mean to say we ARE trying to buy happiness by adopting these little rascals, but, knowing you have made a difference in a kid's life kind of makes you feel good.  Like maybe there's a real reason we're here, other than just trying to make it through another day.  Whatever it is, I'm glad it's with Mary Anne, and these 6, I mean 7, kids.  The only thing I really have to figure out is, did I help them, or did they help me...?


A surprise 'gift'

I was so excited to get an email this morning from a man who had volunteered at WuShuang's orphange years ago. He wrote this:
   My name is Robert Moore II. I got your e-mail from the Yahoo group
tianjinfamilies. You  mentioned you were pursuing the adoption of Wu Shuang.
Congratulations!  If you have read some of the older posts, you will know that I
volunteered for about 8 years in the Tianjin CWI. In 2000, Wu Shuang was  one of
10 children who were taken by our organization into a "model  room". They still
lived in the orphanage (this is before foster care was even an option) but they
were cared for by ayis that we paid for and were given special attention by the
American physical therapist who worked there. This lasted about a year. We were
able to monitor her afterwards for several years and provided her the forearm
crutches she used to learn to walk. It is great to know that she will be
adopted. You are getting a  very special girl. I have attached a few photos.
Some of them are very  old, I think.They should be dated. Enjoy.


What a wonderful gift to be given these pictures and the beautiful note. For Wu Shuang, to have pictures of herself as a baby is a true gift, and we can see how adorable she was, and know that she was well taken care of.

What a cutie!!!!

"Don't you have enough challenges?"

At a recent specialist visit, one of the doctors asked me this question. Hmm, I thought, what exactly is 'enough challenges'? Sometimes getting up in the morning is a pretty big challenge, after being up through the night with a little boy who decides that singing 'Hey Jude' at 2 am is a good idea. And then there's getting dinner on the table, getting caught up on the wash, and running errands. How about food shopping for a large family...challenge enough?

It really made me think a lot about how the world looks at the 'perfect' life. It would definitely be a good job, health, a good home, and money in the bank. The world looks at families like ours, and frankly, they scratch their heads. The idea of adopting one child, after having four birth children, was crazy. So crazy, in fact that many people, even in our own families, barely acknowledged that we were doing it. Once Sophie came home, however, the story changed and they loved our  little Henan spitfire. We actually had PA for Shane before we even traveled for Sophie, but did not tell our families until we came home with Sophie, to help the whole acceptance process. When we did tell them, it was easier for most people to understand, as we were doing so well with Sophie's transition.

Life with 6 kids sure has its challenges, whether it is homework, cane skills, or care packages to college kids. And yet, without these 'challenges' what would we have? A life without our kids, our family? Dinners for two, an empty house? I think not. More than 26 years ago when Matt and I were married, we knew we wanted to have a large family. Matt used to kid around that he wanted a baseball team, but after five years of infertility, I used to tell him we would be lucky for a solitaire game. And then, God blessed us with four children in seven years, and now our two little ones from China. Amazing, really. A lot of work? Absolutely. Challenging? Without a doubt. Blessing? Beyond measure.

For those in our lives who have never had adoption on their hearts, what we are doing now is the craziest thing to imagine. WHY would we make life 'harder' more complicated, frankly, more challenging? Why would we even consider bringing another child into a busy home when we have two 'special needs' children already? Why would we stretch our resources, our finances, and our time, to do this again? After all, don't we have 'enough challenges'? Why not let 'someone else' adopt WuShuang?

Each of these questions run through my mind at the beginning of the process of discerning if this is, exactly, what we are to do. Making the decision to adopt is not an easy one, and it is not to be taken lightly. Much thought and prayer goes into it, and in the end, in my experience, God shows the way. What we think of as an impossible situation becomes possible, what seems unthinkable becomes matter-of-fact. With God, all things are possible, and we need to humble ourselves to realize how small we are in the plan, and how big He is. And, as always, God cannot be outdone in his generosity. So when we say 'yes' to His plan, he blesses us abundantly.

Now, as we begin to tell the world about our new daughter, there will be many who will not understand, many who will think us crazy. That's fine, because in the end, it really isn't between them and us, it's between us and God.

And after all, what is so crazy about claiming for our own the child who was chosen for us, before the very beginning of time, to be our daughter through adoption?

Friday, February 4, 2011

"He destined us for adoption..." Ephesians 1:5

Well, here we are: another blog, another wonderful reason to blog. Our family has been busy, trying to keep up with the daily routines of raising kids and working. Our house is full and often a whirlwind, and even with two in college, we are a busy house.

We have been home more than a year with Shane. Hard to believe. He is a different child from the little boy we met in October 2009. Then, he could barely walk, could not eat himself, could not hold a utensil, and spent most of his time on the floor, curled in a ball. Now, while he continues to deal with many developmental delays, he can feed himself, gets his own drink from the refrigerator water dispenser, climbs the stairs (and everything else he can!) and is beginning to follow simple directions. He understands many things we say, and will hum and tries to sing almost anything you can think of. One of his favorite songs in 'Hey Jude" and he has been known to break out in a beautiful version of "Alleluia" at Mass on Sunday (sometimes also at 2:00 am!). Shane has brought many challenges, and so much joy into our lives.Watching our girls and Mick with Shane is a blessing that we are privileged to witness. How great is our God to show these children the true meaning of selfless love, and the true gift of the life of a child, who would have had no future in China. We are so happy he is in our lives.

Sophie has been home almost 3 years now.She is at the Catholic school for the deaf, and we could not be happier with her education.She is reading at a second grade level, and with her two Cochlear implants, she can hear in the mild to moderate hearing loss range. She is speaking and signing, and her speech gets more clear every day. She keeps us on our toes, but there is not a day that goes by that she does not say she loves us. At night when she says her prayers she says: "Please God, tell all people, Mommies and Daddies, go to China, get orphans, need homes. No food, hungry. Please God, please..."

And so, with the understanding of the blessings we have been given in our lives, and with true gratitude to God for those blessings, we have decided to adopt again. The decision was made when I saw the face of a little girl who waits, and desperately hopes for a family of her own. At the age of 12, she has only a little more than a year for a family to find her or she will age-out and will never be able to be adopted. She has cerebral palsy, and can walk, and draw, and is smart and funny. She herself wrote a letter to the head of the CCAA to ask them to please find her a family. While we did not even know that this would be a possibility to adopt again, we saw her face, read over her file, and talked to many people who have met her when they were in China, and we knew she was our daughter. We have already sent her a letter to introduce ourselves to her,  and she is so excited to be adopted. We are now on the fast-track to get her, as she is older and needs to be adopted ASAP. I am adding pictures of WuShuang. You can see the sweet smile on her face and know that she is waiting and happy now that she is soon to get a family. We are also so blessed as the agency we are working with (Madison Adoption Associates) has waived all of their agency fees, and the orphanage has reduced their fee, all to help WuShuang find her forever family.

Please keep our family in your prayers as we move forward, again, with much faith in God's providential hand in our lives. And now...paperwork here we come!