Friday, August 31, 2012

Choosing Joy

Admittedly, I was struggling.  I had a bad attitude, and my patience was running thin.  I dislike the way I was feeling and how my heart was just simply ugly, but I want to be honest here.  And, I want to remember that in our journey it hasn’t all been a storybook, there have been times that have been hard.  Really hard.  The past week was hard.  I had been spiraling, and as is typical with me, I was trying to pinpoint what was causing my heaviness.  This is how I roll, analyze the situation and figure out how to solve it … when often I just need to sit down and let God lead and guide.  He’s pretty good at that, you know. 

I am very aware that I am beyond blessed.  Really blessed.  I am surrounded by reminders of God’s grace.  But, my heart has been heavy ... the uncertainty of when exactly we can bring our baby home, the unknown of her past, the impending start of a new school year for the boys, so much impending change for Lydia ... and, Nora's birth mom has been on my heart so much lately.  How her birth parents must have loved her so, the act of getting her to a place where they knew she would be found when they likely were coming from a rural area, likely their journey was beyond hard.  It is truly overwhelming and such an act of love.  

All of this heaviness, but I know where my hope comes from, and ultimately, I want to choose joy.
I want to choose joy with this guy ... even if it means date night is a couple of stolen hours at Target pouring over bottles, formula and diapers. 
I want to choose joy in unexpected beach days and by pouring love on these treasures.
I want to choose joy by praying home our baby girl.
I want to choose joy by finding hope in and thanking our Heavenly Father for all of the gifts he has so graciously given us. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Nora in the Northwoods

Because I do not want to forget any of the details (warning, this is long) …

Early this year we booked a family getaway, a week in northern Wisconsin planned for early August.  Little did we know we would be in a critical place of working through paperwork to bring our little miss home.  A very important step in the adoption process is getting that coveted “Referral Acceptance” (also known as “Letter of Acceptance”).  This is the official document from China approving you to adopt a specified child.  Already well established on this little blog, I am a planner (seriously people, I should be in a 12-step program).  By all my scientific evaluations of trends and what I’ve seen other families experience, we should have received our RA the week of July 30th or even the week before.  When the RA is received, more paperwork is triggered.  And, the timing of this paperwork is important as the sooner you turn it around, theoretically, the sooner you might travel.  You know where this is going, don’t you?

Much to our surprise and the surprise of our agency, no RA as of Friday, August 3rd.  I had a bit of angst over this, but we packed the family and the tote of adoption paperwork and headed up to northern Wisconsin to stay at a cottage that some might describe as being out in the middle of nowhere.  Phone service?  Yes.  Wireless capability?  No.  

Okay, so onward, on Monday, August 6th two days into our week away, we missed my cell ringing and then heard Jason’s ringing but missed it too.  Could it be?  Yes, we both had a message from our agency to call right away.  Woo hoo!!!  We got our RA!  Our agency was going to e-mail it and more paperwork (Remember?  No wireless).  They would send the original document to us, via FedEx to arrive on Wednesday morning so that we could sign and return it.  I gave them the address of the cottage and then had a momentary panic wondering if FedEx could deliver to a cottage we were renting and wondering if the owners, who live in a different state, had any forwarding of mail / packages.  Thus, I made a call to the owners and explained the whole situation and was relieved to discover that we should have no issue receiving our FedEx.  Phew!!!
So, here’s what we needed to do Monday afternoon:
1. Print e-mail and attachments from agency,
2. Sign a variety of papers and return them to agency (via e-mail with scanned pdfs), and
3. Submit our petition to US immigration to adopt Nora (the I800).
Reminder – no wireless!  I had done my extensive research the week before and found there was an OfficeMax approximately 45 minutes away.  At the OfficeMax we could print documents, get pdfs, make copies and FedEx said documents.  However, Jason felt that we could accomplish everything “in town” so on Monday, he calls 3-4 places (grocery store, library, coffee shop, etc.).  Each, it seems, could only do one of the things we needed done that is until we were referred to a family run printing company that typically services area businesses (prints brochures, other advertisements, etc.).  Yes, that’s where we ended up.  Here’s proof!
At this printing company, we got our e-mail and attachments printed and copies and pdfs made.  So thankful for smart phones!  Now, it was on to a local coffee shop that yes, was an authorized  FedEx shipper.  The owner, as he was making our label, specifically asked if we were sending adoption paperwork.  He recognized the stack of papers and the fact that we were sending documents to US immigration as he and his wife adopted two children from Russia 15 years ago.  Seriously.  See God working here? 
So thankful for my resourceful husband who was persistent on finding a more time effective (and turns out way more memorable) way of getting all this done.
Fast forward to Wednesday, the FedEx man made it to the cottage with the very important official document!!!  Praises!!!
Decision to adopt Miss Nora?  A thousand times yes!
We signed the document!!!  So exciting!  And, then we went back to the printing company to get a copy of it and then back to the coffee shop to overnight it back to our agency!!!!  
Fast forward to Friday and we got an update on our Nora including a few new photos.  Of which, this is one of my favorite!  (You may recall this one from Nora's introduction below.)
Love this smile!!!!  
In God’s perfect timing, despite what I wanted, despite how much I was praying for our RA before our family getaway, He made Nora a part of our time in the Northwoods.  And, I am thankful.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My Show Hope Girls

Robyn, Heather & Elizabeth - August 2012

Two of my favorite ladies, so blessed to have these two special friends in my life.  Robyn and Elizabeth both attended / hosted my Stella & Dot open house adoption fundraiser in their Show Hope t-shirts.  And, I was sporting mine as well.  Love these girls!!!!  As I posted before, Elizabeth is a Stella & Dot "stylist" and is donating all of her commissions from my open house to the Nora fund.  Beside myself with gratitude ... 

The open house went really well!!!  And, it was so fun having ladies through the house all afternoon (and some occassional boys despite the "no boys allowed" rule that my super outgoing 7 1/2 year old niece tried to enforce, that girl cracks me up) - lots of chatting, snacking and modeling fun jewelry! 

Thank you to everyone who has been praying for us, encouraging us and supporting us in so many other ways.  We. Are. Humbled.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Introducing Nora

It is our joy and privilege to introduce Miss Nora Jane ...
Oh, how we love this little one already!
Those of you who know me well know that photos set to music do me in every time ... well, I first saw something similar to this on Beth's blog when she introduced their precious Molly.  Thanks, Beth for giving me permission to steal your idea!  Beth and her husband are in China right now and are bringing home their Molly who was in the same orphanage as Nora (we have photos of them together during Nora's birthday "party"!).  And, thanks to Dana for "introducing" me to Beth!  Dana's sweet Anna was also at the same orphanage.  Praying that these little girls will reunite again once all three are home!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Paper Pregnant

So, I was really hoping that my next post was going to be our formal introduction of Nora with photos, but alas, we're still waiting on that next approval.  Waiting, a common theme in this journey.

I have often heard the adoption process being referred to as being "paper pregnant."  In fact, early in the process I had thought that as well.  I thought that once we saw our child's precious face I would equate the process to seeing an ultrasound picture while being pregnant.  Having been blessed beyond measure with four full-term pregnancies, I must say that this now doesn't feel like a pregnancy.  Our "due date" is unknown, I have no growing baby belly and no ultrasound of a growing baby.  I am not carrying my baby with me, and I only have a few precious photos of her.  My baby is on the other side of the globe, and every day we wait is a day without her.
Our preparation is not filled with the typical warm and fuzzy feelings of pregnancy.  Our preparation is filling out forms, obtaining documents, getting said documents certified and authenticated, collecting more information, and filling out more forms.  At times, these are just tasks which can seem emotionless and disconnected from our child.

While the paper chase is exhausting, it is times like these, the times when we're waiting for the next step that I find myself longing for some task, some assignment that makes it feel like I'm doing something to bring Nora home.  Times like these, even when the waiting and the dependence on God's timing is super hard, we realize that all we can do is continue to pray on His perfect timing in bringing her home. 

In perspective, it is also these days that my heart is pulled to Nora's birth mom.  I know that I've blogged on this before, but please keep her in your prayers as well ... I cannot even begin to imagine how she could have given Nora up.  Likewise, it is nearly unimaginable how God would bless us and choose us to be Nora's parents.  So blessed ...

"Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!"
Psalm 27:14