As Christmas has come and gone and we are a week into a new year, I can't help but be amazed. Last Christmas, someone was missing, there was this love in our hearts for this little girl we did not even know yet. The past two weeks has been one of thankfulness and joy. Ivy fits into this family as if she has always been here. It feels so much longer than just three months and she has changed so much September. Ivy is spunky, she knows what we wants and lets you know it, she is funny, has an attitude, loves to snuggle, and is just so loveable. Ivy has gone from not being able to hold herself up when holding her to sitting on her own, crawling, pulling up on furniture, picking up toys, saying 10-15 English words, climbing the stairs (talk about heart attack!), yelling at her siblings, accepting kisses and giving them, saying "I love you", and gaining a whopping SEVEN pounds!! She has rolls and we love it!! So many people tell her how blessed she is but we are the blessed ones, our hearts and lives have been changed by God's gift of adoption of our hearts and of a little girl that has no idea how amazingly special, loved, and wanted she is. This world of adoption takes your heart, flips it upside down in the most amazing way and forces the way you live and think to change. We can't wait to see where God takes this little one's life and where he takes our family next!
...Be happy and full of joy, because the Lord has done a wonderful thing. Joel 2:21
As we adjust to time change and being a family of 6, I can't help but look back on the last 2 weeks with elation. Two days ago, I was in China. I am in awe that we have been there and back. Coming home has been so surreal, for 18 months we have been working, fighting, and waiting for this little person in pictures. As I write this, it is 5:33am and she is rolling around and crawling all over the floor. Leaving China was so surreal, Ivy was ours, the paperwork was done and we were bring her home. There are moments where I still can't believe it.
Jason and I prayed we would fall in love with our daughter's birth country and that we did. China is beautiful. There were moments where we forgot we were in a foreign country and it just seemed normal. Then we would remember where we were and think "Holy Crap, we are in China!!" God is just so good! The landscape in Beijing is a lot like Pittsburgh, the weather and landscape are similar, well minus the smog, that I could do without. We spent 3 days in Beijing touring the nations capital. We loved learning about the culture and ancient history of the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Ivy is from southern China so we took a flight early Monday morning for Guangzhou. Guangzhou is humid and hot and very tropical and may be the most beautiful city I have been in. The landscape is lush, full of ferns, palm trees, trees full of beautiful pink flowers everywhere and just so green even in the middle of sky scrapers. Across the street from our hotel there were 2 of the most beautiful parks we have ever seen. If it wasn't so dang humid we would have spent more time there. Mental note, next time in China, go to Guangzhou during winter :)
We were in some ways surprised at how similar China is to America. I think there is this stereotype that it is a third-world country. Don't get me wrong, I know there are villages that are full of poverty, but the cities are a lot like ours. Aside from cultural changes and differences in the way the country is governed, a lot of things were similar. Carrefour is the French department store, very similar to our Target. We bought, Lays potato chips, pampers, Heinz baby cereal, Chips Ahoy cookies, had Heinz ketchup at the hotel, and a host of other name brands that are normal in America. While it is expensive in China to own a car, there is every make and model you see here. Chevy, Ford, Toyota, Honda, BMW, Volvo...difference being, we obey traffic laws while driving and they don't. I have never prayed so much for protection in a short time frame as I did in the few taxi rides we took. It brought my car sickness to a whole new level!
Our adoption agency sends us with a travel group. Normally there is a group of 7-10 families but since we went kinda short notice we only had one other couple with us. What a blessing this was! Not only did God totally blow us away with the timing but he blessed our time there with new lifelong friends. There sweet daughter Merynn is such a joyful child and is completely hilarious. You just can't help but fall head over heals in love with her! We can't wait to celebrate our Gotcha days for years to come!
Bryce, Bethany and their new daughter Merynn.
The architecture is gorgeous and so detailed!
The guys with our tour guide Tom! He was amazing and made Beijing wonderful!
Rickshaw through Hutong Village. One of the original villages left in Beijing.
This saying is so true,
“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”
Adoption and being an orphan starts with loss, loss of her birth parents, country, special Nanny, etc. It's hard and heartbreaking. Ivy has lived in the orphanage
her whole life.She has attached to
possibly multiple nannies.And we are
taking her away from everything she has ever known.To her, every person in her life will leave at
some point.And she will think no
different of Jason and I.Ivy will be
leaving everything that is familiar to her: language, climate, familiar faces,
food, culture, routine, environment, smells and sights, and familiar caregivers.This is a lot to ask of a baby…even though
she will be getting so much love, she needs to learn how to love in return and
what it is to be a part of a family.
We wanted to
take a moment to explain why things will be different in the coming months then
when we brought Dawson, Jayden, and Hallie home from the hospital.One being the obvious, this is an
adoption.Two, because our greatest
responsibility in the coming months is to give Ivy every opportunity to firmly
attach to us.This is more important
than we can express. Adopted children
are at a great risk for attachment disorders and we need to do everything in
our power to enable her to attach to us hard and quickly.
That said, here
are some boundaries that must be set:
-Jason and I will be the only ones that meet
Ivy’s needs (holding, feeding, diaper changes, soothing when hurt or sad,
etc).She needs to learn that her
parents meet her needs.
will not be cared for by anyone other than Jason and I for quite a long time,
this includes the nursery at church.
or I will be with Ivy 24 hours a day.
know this one is hard but…if you ask us to hold Ivy…the answer is no.We know you all love her and want to show her
your love, but it is not the best for her.When the time is right, we will let you know when it is safe to hold
you see us out and about in the coming months, please walk up to us slowly and
please try not to touch Ivy.
Ivy is a baby and we will be nurturing her like she is a newborn.She missed out on the vital nurturing that a
Mommy and Daddy do in those first months of life.So we will be doing lots of cuddling,
carrying, bottle feeding, playing, napping, and overall loving on her.
If you feel
moved to help…meals is so appreciated and a great way to bless us!We just ask that you be ready to drop the
meal off at the door.
Also, with the
holidays approaching in the coming months, please understand if we are missing
this year.We may be spending some much
needed family bonding time at home this holiday.
We can’t thank everyone
enough for the support through these last 18 months and are blessed to have you
in our lives.As always, we ask for your
prayers as we introduce this princess to her brothers and sister and what it is to be in a family.
Adoption is one of the coolest things God designed! I am in awe of how He swells our hearts to love this little angel. And little she is, Ivy is such a peanut! Ivy had a rough time on Monday. We are happy and heartbroken that she cried for several hours. Happy in that she is grieving the loss of her caregivers and grieving is good. If she loved and trusted once she can learn to love and trust again. Heartbroken by all that she has lost in her short life. Everyday we are seeing changes and we are calling them small mercies that are big steps towards healing. Tuesday's mercy- She woke up and kinda cracked a smile at Baba (Daddy), she is thinking maybe this man is not so bad after all. Wednesday's mercy- Ivy actually woke up for a bottle. Up until this point she has not cried to eat and just waits to be fed. Sad, but very common for a child living in an orphanage. Thursday's mercy- Praise God there is more than one and the day is only half done! She fell asleep in my arms in the middle of the night. She will stay awake for hours and hours until we lay her in the crib, then she is sound asleep in no more than 30 seconds. Baba got her to full out giggle this morning by tickling her. She was really skittish when touched in the face or played with too rough at first. Now she loves when he tickles her and she squeals. Best. Sound. Ever. Then just before her nap we were laying in the bed and she rolled over close to me and kissed my nose over and over. She thought is was hilarious and my heart filled to running over. What a little blessing she is!! Here are some pictures from Gotcha Day...
The sweet very tiny women beside me is Ivy's favorite Nanny and is the women she was most attached to at the orphanage. We thank her for loving our daughter and pray for her as she too has suffered the loss of caring for Ivy. The other women is the orphanage director.
This was actually taken on Tuesday, adoption day!
Thanking God for new mercies every morning! We are living proof that He cares about even the smallest of details!!
I can't believe it is here. Since February 1, 2012 we have had this dream at times we felt like was not going to come true. Adoption is a beautifully long process. I am sitting in the hotel lobby responding to every email, message, text, phone call we have gotten in the last few days. We can't express enough how much we appreciate the support. Please forgive me if you reached out and I did not respond, your support is not forgotten.
Our flights leave at 10 am Thursday, we layover in Detroit, then onto Beijing. After a 14 hour plane ride we will land at 3pm, 3am Pittsburgh time. OIY!
Some ways you can pray for us...
1. Pray for our kids. 2 weeks is a very long time and when we left them tonight Jayden was screaming...ripped my heart in 2!! They need a heavenly dose of peace.
2. Pray for our safety and health.
3. Pray for sweet Ivy...that God would work in her heart as she learns to accept our love. Pray she feels safe with us. And pray for her health as we take her from the only place she has ever known.
4. Pray for God's presence to be so real to us. We need a dose of heavenly peace.
5. Pray for all the details to go so smoothly. Both in flights and layovers and paperwork.
We will try to post as much as possible so watch FB!
5 days and counting until we have our newest princess!!
WE ARE GOING TO GET IVY MING!!! I know some of you are thinking, "How is Dawn going to sit still on a plane for over 12 hours?" Answer: I have no idea, BUT I am going to get my baby, so who cares!! This adoption is the most amazing, frustrating, beautiful roller coaster. We can't wait to shower Ivy with love and can't believe God chose us to parent her. So I mentioned on FB there is a cool story, here it is:
The waiting at times in this process has been unbearable...we waited 114 days for our Letter Of Acceptance...that is like FOREVER! I would wake up daily and pray today would be the day we got the message from our agency. If only I could remember every second of every day that GOD HAS A PLAN! We leave for the other side of the world on Sept. 12th, we receive our new child on Sept. 16th, the adoption is finalized on Sept. 17th. Do you know what Sept. 17th is?? Three years ago this month I was on bed rest, practically bleeding to death with my pregnancy with our stillborn son, Reese. September 17th is REESE'S 3RD BIRTHDAY! And our 12th anniversary is the 22nd! I could never in my wildest dreams have made this happen. My God can do anything! I remember laying in the bed at the hospital after delivering Reese not being able to imagine what my life would look like in 2-3 years, not being able to see past my drowning grief. If you would have told me we would be adopting, that all the fees would be supplied, that my heart would be healed, that there was a beautiful baby girl hand picked for our family, I wouldn't have believed you. God is a God of healing and he continues to heal my heart. We know Reese's life was not in vain, he was in my womb for a purpose, to bring us to a place of surrender, to move us to obey God's words when they seemed radical and illogical, and nothing has been more fun! We are giddy with excitement and can't wait until next Thursday! How all the details have come together has made all the waiting soooo worth it...remind me of this next time I am waiting for something :)
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!
Ever been at a loss for words as how gloriously God works? The last 2 days I have been. The last 99 days have been days of peace, stress, complete frustration and joy. When we accepted our little girl 99 days ago and began our LOA (letter of acceptance) wait, I never thought it would take 98 days, but it did. Thank you God that our LOA has been issued and we have been accepted to parent Ivy!! We are over the moon excited and relieved! After that many days it has been hard not to wonder if something was wrong with our dossier, if something was missing, etc. God's timing is perfect and I had to fight to remember that day after day. One of the coolest parts of it coming on day 98 was that it was Hallie's 5th birthday! Last year Hallie wanted her sister to come to her birthday party...she could not understand that it was not time yet. We told Hallie that when she turned 5 it would be time to go get Ivy very soon. Yep, God's pretty cool!
The last 2 weeks have been especially amazing. On May 28 we got news that we have been granted a matching grant through Lifesong for Orphans and our church, North Way Christian Community. We were thrilled! How this works is friends and family can give a tax-deductible donation in our name to Lifesong for Orphans, North Way then matches dollar for dollar what is given. The cap on what can be donated total is $3500.00 and that $3500.00 turns into $7000.000. Amazing huh? It doesn't end there! This was also the week of the yard sale. We want to thank everyone who donated stuff, their time, prayers, and support of this sale. It blew our socks off and all the work was worth it! We made just shy of $2000.00! God blessed the day more than we even thought possible. The day of the sale (and the day before) the weather was iffy. I was constantly filling tables and covering everything with plastic for that pop up shower. I was so relieved when we woke up and it has not rained Friday night. As Jason and I were emptying the garage about 7:30 am, it started to sprinkle. Jay looked across the street and above the trees was a gorgeous RAINBOW. At the same time my 2 sisters and bro were walking down the driveway. I said, hey look at the rainbow and it was gone. Not kidding, it was there less then a min! I had a moment of peace where I knew everything was gonna be alright! God never breaks his promises! We ended the day exhausted, excited, and so, so, so blessed!
The blessings continued! We got news today that we have been awarded a $5000.00 grant! In AWE does not even put lightly how I was feeling. I have no words still. If you had told me 15 months ago that God would supply every cent for our adoption from money we didn't even know was there, I would have doubted how that was going to happen. But it has! We walked in obedience fully knowing that we could not come up with this amount of money on our own and never have we not had the cash when a fee was due. With the Lifesong Grant, the yard sale, and the grant from today we are on our way to being fully funded!!! With our God, money is not an option!
The end of the summer can't come fast enough, we can't wait to travel to bring Ivy home and start the beginning of the real adventure with Princess Ivy!
As I was driving today just after hearing about the grant, this song came on K-Love. It was so fitting to how I was feeling!