Thursday, December 29, 2016

Pity party no more...

I have been throwing a pity party recently. I have cried, moped around the house, and cried some more. This Christmas has been exceptionally hard. We thought we would be traveling to pick up our daughter over Christmas. Instead, we have yet another delay and still don’t know when we will get approval to travel to get her.

My mind goes crazy. I worry about Liana. I worry she is not in a safe place. I worry that she is not getting the nutrition she needs. I worry she is not getting the love and care that she deserves. I worry that she will get sick and we won’t be there to take care of her. I feel sorry for myself because I had envisioned celebrating the holidays with her in our arms and yet we are still waiting…

This morning I realized that I am no different than the Israelites were when they were roaming the desert on their way to the promise land. They too moaned and complained. They too wanted their time of waiting to end. They too lost site of the ways that God was providing for them. They always had manna to eat, their shoes did not even get worn through in all those years of walking. The Lord himself went before them and was with them the entire way.

I am no different. I have been feeling sorry for myself instead of seeing all the ways that God is providing for our family.

At the beginning of this adoption the Lord gave us a verse. Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” This morning I was convicted once again. (Sadly this is not the first time I needed to repent of my sour attitude and lack of trust in God through this adoption process.) I have spent much of this process being discouraged. I have been afraid that it would all implode and we would not be able to adopt Liana.

God has been with us the entire time. He clearly led Niel and I to adopt. He then made it ever so clear that Liana was our daughter. He has provided the finances to adopt through various grants and generous donations from friends and family. The C&MA has been very willing to work with us and extremely flexible as we try to plan to meet Liana’s medical needs. People have been praying for Liana long before we knew her. God has clearly been going before us.

Yes there have been numerous delays on our journey and that can be frustrating. Yes, it is normal to long to hold your little girl who is getting older and in dire need of a mommy and daddy to love on her and advocate for her. The thing is, Liana has the the best daddy in the world looking after her right now—her heavenly daddy. He is going before her and clearing the way for her to join our family. 

Today I am choosing to not be discouraged. Today I am acknowledging that God has been going before us through this entire process and he will continue to. 

“Thank you Heavenly Father for never leaving us through this adoption process. Thank you for loving little Liana long before we did. Thank you for going before us to prepare the way to bring her home.”

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Letter to Liana

The wait to bring Liana home has been really hard. Today I decided to write her a letter. I grieve the time I am missing with our little girl. At the same time, I am looking forward to the day we can bring her home...

My Dear Sweet Liana,

I ache to have you in my arms. The wait to bring you home is so difficult and yet I know it will be worth it in the end when you are home. I love you so much dear girl. I did not carry you in my womb, I did not give birth to you and yet I don’t doubt for one minute that you are ours. 

Ours… you don’t know it yet but you belong. You are seen. You are not known to us fully yet but you are KNOWN by your Heavenly Father.  So many people have prayed for you sweet Liana. So many people asked that God would place you in a forever family. You were seen by Him and He orchestrated it so you would be seen by us.

I know you have had a difficult beginning. My heart hurts when I think about the pain your birth mother must have felt to let you go. My heart hurts because you may never know her. I shed tears when I think about the fact that you began the first years of your life not knowing what it is like to be in a family. We can’t wait to become your forever family. We have prayed for you long before we even knew you. Little one, you are so cherished and loved.

The wait to be near you is so hard. To think that you are alive and growing. To think that other people are taking care of you when we long to meet your needs. We look at your picture or videos every day. We tell you we love you. We celebrated your second birthday. You probably didn't even know it was your birthday but we celebrated it anyway. You are worth celebrating little one! You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are a treasure…. our treasure.

I look forward to the day when we can hold you in our arms. It will probably be a hard day for you. My heart will break a little knowing we will be pulling you away from everything you have ever known. You will not understand what is going on. I pray that God is preparing your heart to meet us. I pray that you would grow to trust us and love us. I pray that you would know that you belong. You will no longer be an orphan. You will be a cherished daughter and sister. Oh how my heart looks forward to and longs for that day.

My heart is hurting so much today because I long to be near you. I know you will not read this right now. I know you don’t have any idea that your life is about to change. For me, the wait to be near you is excruciatingly difficult. However, the wait is worth it. You are worth it!! 

I love you so much sweet Liana!


Monday, August 8, 2016


Waiting is so hard. This entire adoption process is full of it. We gather paperwork and wait for it to come together. We send our paperwork out to get authentications and wait. We wait to have our home study and then wait while it is finalized. We wait to get a match and then we wait to see if we get approval. We fill out adoption grants and wait to hear if we have received anything. All the while, we wait to bring our little girl home.

Today is a hard day of waiting. I want to hold Liana today. I want her to know that she has a forever family. I want to be able to celebrate her birthday and other important days with her. I want Ellis to meet his sister. I know that someday the waiting will be over but right now... well, it is just hard. 

We will probably be DTC  (Dossier to China)  this week. That is a big deal in the adoption community. That means all the paperwork we have been gathering over the past 5 to 6 months will be compiled together in a packet and sent to China. Once it is there we will wait for it to be logged in, translated, looked over by the officials, and then we will be officially matched with Liana. After the dossier is sent, we wait. It will be completely out of our control. Once the dossier is submitted, it is usually 4 to 5 months until we can travel to get our daughter.

Thankfully God is still in control. In all honestly, we have had very little control from the beginning. But He has ALWAYS been in control!

This entire adoption process is one of surrendering to God. We lose control as we submit paperwork and wait. We don’t know where the money will come from and we wait and trust in Him to provide. We think we have a certain idea of what our child will be like, He has another. Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Knowing and sensing that God is going before us and is with us makes it all worth it!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

My God has Answered!

This was written on Sunday, May 8th...Mother's Day.

Today was one of those days. One of those day where I felt like the songs that we sang during worship at church were chosen specifically for me... God spoke through the words. I heard His voice and cried...

Niel and I have been on a journey to adopt a child from China. It hasn’t been easy. We thought we were wanting a two or three year old boy. We thought we had found our son... twice. Two times we were unable to lock in the boys we wanted. After the second time I said to Niel, “I have a feeling that God is going to give us a little girl.”

Young boys tugged on our heartstrings. So many people want little girls and boys are being overlooked all the time. We decided to be open to girls but in reality we weren’t all that open. We talked about whether we should even say we are open to a girl when we both leaned toward adopting a boy. I envisioned Ellis sharing a room with a brother and them being best friends. Niel said we should not take a girl off the list in case God dropped one in our laps.

Well, this past week our social worker was here for our home study. On the second day she said she wanted to talk to us about a little girl. Another family had locked in the little girl. She was blind in one eye. The special need seemed pretty minor. After locking her in they read something in her file about another special need. After finding out more info about that need, they decided to release her file.

Our social worker thought she might be a good fit for our family and asked if we would be willing to consider it. She said she is a 20 month old girl and was just darling. She showed us a picture and to be honest, nothing really moved in me. Nonetheless, Niel and I both knew we had to pray further about this little girl. It seemed that God was indeed dropping her into our lap.

Throughout the day I still wasn’t feeling it. There wasn’t a video of the little girl so I could not get an idea of her personality like I did with the other boys we fell in love with. I struggled with this.

The next morning Niel said he had been praying about her while lying awake that night and he had a feeling she might be our daughter and that we needed to seek out further information about her.

We sent off her file to be medically reviewed. I still was not feeling it.  A little girl wasn’t what we had planned for or really envisioned for our family. Her pictures just showed her sitting in a Bumbo. I had all these fears that her special needs might be very serious, like she was unable to sit up by herself, walk, or speak or even all the above. I felt like committing to her was too big of a leap of faith for me. There seemed to be a block in my mind when it came to her.

This morning that all changed. The first song that we sang in church was the song that goes “Holy Spirit you are welcome here.” I sang the song and I really meant it. The next song was one I had never heard before.

You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the promises you made
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way

I was not feeling brave. I was feeling weak. I was having a hard time taking the leap of faith that this little girl was ours. As we sang the song I could feel my spirit getting stronger and stronger... maybe even brave. I knew that I was letting my fear get in the way of trusting God.

The next song went..

Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can't see
And this mountain that's in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well
It is well

By the time we ended the song I knew she was our daughter. I knew God was speaking. I was willing to trust, even if we didn’t get to see a video or really know how severe her special needs were. I could sing the old hymn “It is well with my soul.” and mean it.

She is ours. We don’t have her locked in yet. China has not said she is ours. But, in our hearts we know she is ours.

We prayed that God would bring us our child. We were thinking it would be a boy. We now know it is a little girl.

Her new name is Liana: My God has Answered.

China has now given us pre-approval to adopt her. It will still be about 6 more months until we can bring her home. The wait is going to be so hard. We long to hold our little girl!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Difficult Beginning...

The Lord never said it would be easy. John 16:33 says, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Jesus told us we would face trials. He never said it would be easy.

When we talked about starting the adoption process we knew it wouldn’t be easy. Niel and I knew we were being called to adopt. He never said it would be easy...

It was part of our original plan. Have one biological child and then adopt. So many children need a family. We knew we wanted more than one child. We started talking about it again in December. We were thinking we would adopt here in Hong Kong. We were told the process wasn’t that difficult and since we are residents here, it wouldn’t cost a lot either. After a phone call to the Social Welfare Department we knew we did not qualify. We did not make enough money.  The door seemed closed to us.

When asked what one thing I was hoping would happen for this year that I would need His supernatural enabling, I said “adoption.”  The doors seemed to be closed and we needed Him to open them.

We started to look into international adoption from China. We thought we didn’t qualify for that either since we didn’t own a home. A friend of ours recommended an agency and I sent off an email asking if we qualified. To our surprise we did. We knew that most of the kids being adopted from China had special needs. We were very open to this.

After our initial inquiries to the agency, we joined their waiting child Facebook page. We looked at many pictures and read stories of the children with special needs from China that needed a home. Many of these children moved us and I would pray that their Dads and Moms would find them. 

Then a little two year old boy popped off the screen. I saw his smile and large forehead and it reminded me of Ellis. I knew there was something different about this boy. I was drawn to him. I showed him to Niel. In fact, I showed him to Niel for many days after this. We started to talk about whether or not we could handle this boy's special needs. It was a need that we knew so little about. We began to read about it online.

When we sent in the application to start the process, I did it with this little boy in mind. After we sent in the application fee, we asked to see his file. We sent it to doctor and nurse practitioner friends of ours to have the medical portion reviewed.  The agency had had this boy's file for a long time and no one seemed interested. We did not think we had to make a quick decision. We wanted to make sure we were prepared and could give this boy the care that he would need.

To make a long story short, last Friday we woke and and there was an email from our agency stating that another family had sent in the paperwork to lock in this little boy. They had reviewed his file months ago and decided that day to pursue him. We were told that there was nothing we could do because they were further along in the adoption process. 

Niel and I were both shocked. We were just waiting to talk to our social worker before deciding to commit to him. We had scheduled to talk to her that morning. It was too late. I cried... a lot!

We did talk to our social worker that day. She said that a mistake had happened and that someone at the agency had thought that we were no longer interested in this boy. We had never said that, in fact we had written just the opposite so were surprised by this. Our social worker apologized on behalf of the agency and said that if we were still interested in him, we could write a letter and it would be taken before a committee to see whether being placed with the other family or being placed with us would be the best for this little boy.

We did write the letter. Our social worker (who has been wonderful through all this) wrote a letter advocating for us as well. We had already opened our hearts to this little boy. We knew that  no matter what his special needs were, we would be able to give him the care that he needed. After all, we already saw him as a Haggmark. We knew we had to go for it...

Friday night we did not sleep. The committee was meeting on Friday U.S. time and they would decide one way or another. They met for hours and had questions to ask the other family. No decision was made that day as they waited their answers.

We waited all weekend long. Amazingly the Lord gave me a verse. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,” Romans 15:13. He did give us a peace and joy as we trusted in Him over the weekend.

Monday night we did not sleep again. I kept checking my phone to see if we had news. Eventually it came. They thought both families would be a good placement for him and since the other family was further along in the process, they placed him with them.  Our hearts broke.

The Lord never said it would be easy. Our hearts are broken. We are grieving. It may seem strange to some that we could grieve something we never had. We do. We saw him as our son. The Romans verse still applies. We long to overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. It would be easy to lose hope, to say it is too hard, to give up. Thankfully we have His help, the very One who overcame the world. 

Please pray that He would give us joy and peace right now. Pray that we would be able to grieve this loss. Pray that our hearts would stay soft to Him in this process. Pray that we would be able to forgive. Pray for us over this next year as we continue on this difficult adoption journey.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Ellis' Birth - Part 3

I'm finally getting around to the third part of the birth story. This part is the best part because God did heal my wounds.

A couple weeks after Ellis was in my bedroom trying to nap. Ellis was sleeping soundly in the bassinet next to the bed. I could not sleep so I decided to listen to some music instead. A few friends had posted a song on facebook and I decided to listen to it. It was called "No Longer Slaves".

The song took me by surprise. I felt like it had been written for me for that very moment.

From my Mothers womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again, into your family
Your blood flows through my veins

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

I looked over at Ellis and thought, "He is my child, I would not want any hurt or harm to come to him." I would do anything to keep Ellis from pain. I would only allow pain to come to him if it was for his benefit. Ellis did not have any reason to fear. I was there to protect and care for him.

In that moment I understood. God sees me the same way. I am His child. My Heavenly Father is watching out for me and protecting me. I have no reason to fear.

By the end of the song the fear was gone and His peace returned. I knew I was safe. I knew that even though what I had just been through was really difficult, He was there to help me and take care of me in the future. My spirit could join in singing the next part of the song.

You split the sea, so I could walk right through it
All my fears were drowned in perfect love 
You rescued me, so I could stand and sing 
I am a child of God

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ellis' Birth - Part 2

I was not prepared for how emotional I would be after the c-section. I wasn't prepared to feel so alone or isolated. I wasn't prepared to cry myself to sleep or to wake up in the middle of the night fearful that I would end up back at the hospital.

The postnatal ward had 24 moms and their babies in it. It was never quiet in there and yet I felt all alone. After they got me and Ellis situated in our curtained cubicle, they allowed Niel to visit me for 10 minutes or so before they asked him to leave. He would only be allowed to visit me from 5:30 to 7:30pm for the next few days. Two hours a day to see and hold his newborn son. Two hours to console his emotional wife.  Here is a picture from one of his visits.

After Niel left I laid in bed feeling very alone. I was in so much pain. I had asked for some pain medication post c-section in the recovery room and they gave me Tylenol. The pain got increasingly worse and I was really wanting something more than tylenol. There were two nurses at night to help with all 24 women and their babies. I could see that they were overworked. It also took me very little time to realize that one of them did not speak English. This was a problem as I don't speak Cantonese. She was trying to ask me questions but I could not understand her. She got louder and louder and she sounded like she was yelling at me. I felt helpless. I laid in bed for what seemed like hours and would cry out in pain, “someone please help me.” I remember moaning and silently praying and asking God to take my pain away. Several hours in the nurse that spoke English came and said that she was not permitted to give me anything stronger than tylenol unless the doctor approved it. The doctor had not gotten back to her and so she told me very firmly that there was nothing she could do and that I needed to deal with it. (In the morning the doctor did come in and she approved them giving me an Aleve once a day. It didn't really help at all.)

15 hours after the c-section, they took the catheter out. This meant that I had to walk down the hall to the shared bathroom. This was extremely painful. They did send several people to my bed to help me the first time I got out of bed. It was not a pretty sight and I was in so much pain. 

Eventually the pain did get easier to bear. I was recovering and I just wanted to go home, to finally be a family. I could not wait for the two hours Niel could visit each day. 

Ellis slept all the time. We could not wake him up. The nurse would bring him to me to nurse but neither of us could wake him to eat. Two different lactation specialists came to see us. Both were perplexed as they could see how hard it was to wake him. He seemed to do alright latching in the brief moments he was awake but he wouldn't stay awake long. I watched him get thinner and thinner. I asked the nurses about this and they said this is normal and not to worry. He started off small. He was only 6 pounds 1 ounce and birth and it seemed like he was wasting away to nothing before my eyes. The night before they were going to release me I asked the nurse if they would give me some formula. I could tell he was too thin. She said no. The morning they were going to release the same nurse came in and said that I was all cleared to go but Ellis was not. He had lost too much weight and the pediatrician would not clear him. They needed to monitor him for dehydration. They said I could stay with him and try to get him to gain weight in the next 24 hours. I was so upset. I was looking forward to going home, to finally being with my husband for more than 2 hours a day. I had already spent 4 nights at the hospital at this point. I had also been saying that I thought Ellis was too thin and no one one seemed to care up till this point. The pediatrician said I needed to cup feed Ellis an ounce of milk every 2 hours. She said that I had to pump (I was not allowed to do this either before this point for some reason) and supplement with formula on top of nursing him. He gained back 2% of his body weight in 24 hours and was released the next day.

I was so happy to be going home. Niel was so happy that we all could finally be together. I was told that I could not shower until they removed the stitches a week later. I could not wait. I felt so dirty and disgusting at this point. When I went to get the stitches removed, they saw that I had had an allergic reaction to the stitches. I did not have an infection but the wound had not closed. They had me go back every couple of days to look at it and redress the wound. I spent many night crying, fearful the wound would not close and become infected and that I would end up back in the hospital. I told Niel that I felt like I had two wounds that needed healing, the physical one and the one in my heart. 

The birth story did not end there. God did heal both wounds! I will share more in the next entry.