11.25.2009

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

Virginia Grace,

Today, though we're thousands of miles apart, we celebrate your very first birthday with you! It's after 8 pm in China, so you're probably already tucked into bed for the night. We hope it's been a fun day for you! It saddens us that we can't physically be with you on this big day in your life, but we are grateful that you're being so loved and nurtured by your foster parents. 

Your first year has been full of challenges and changes.  When you were just 20 days old, your birth mother did what she must have felt was best for you and your future, and she placed you in a special place where you would be quickly found and taken into the care of the local orphanage. Though she had to leave you, never doubt that she loved you. It was probably the most difficult decision she's ever made. 

At 4 months old, you had surgery to remove the teratoma on your tongue.  I can only imagine the discomfort and pain that you experienced during recovery. The hospital was probably the only place you'd been outside of the orphanage, and I'm sure it was a little scary.  When you returned, the nannies at the children's welfare institute nursed you back to health. Though you would soon be separated from them, never doubt that they loved you. You were being placed in a home where you could experience family.

Adjusting to new surroundings, new faces, and a new schedule, you began to grow and progress in the foster village.  I am sure you grieved a little when you left the familiar faces of the nannies, but you now have a foster mother and father to give you individualized attention and love on you.    Though you'll soon leave your home once again and be separated from your foster parents, never doubt that they loved you.  They desire for you to be with your "forever" family. I know they will miss you and your beautiful smile. 

We still don't know how many more months it will be until we meet you face to face. But when you read this one day, never doubt that we loved you even now.  Carter goes into your room everyday and points out your crib, dolls, and books.  Your daddy and I stare at your pictures and pray for you daily.  We are so anxious to have you in our arms! I tear up every time I think about it.

Baby girl, your first year has been tough. But you are loved beyond measure.  God has ordained each step of your difficult journey.  Nothing has happened that hasn't been filtered first through His sovereign hands. He loves you infinitely more than anyone on earth ever could, and we hope that one day, you will truly know that. 

Today, we celebrate your life. We celebrate the woman who gave life to you. And we celebrate the miracle of adoption. Happy 1st birthday sweet girl! We love you!!!

Love,
Mom, Dad, and Carter

11.16.2009

We got an UPDATE!!!!!

Look what we got today!!!!!!
As I've mentioned before, the orphanage/foster village where our little girl is living doesn't often provide updates. So we were totally shocked to not only get new pictures, but also to get this description:

She is very active, restless, and happy. She always smiles. She can sit very well. She can walk alone for 4 to 5 steps. She can hold the wall to stand up and walk. She knows her foster family very well. She loves her daddy and mommy. She can say baba, mama, deng (means light). She can do the action to show welcome, bye-bye, congratulations, no. She is very smart and lovely. She can make her face to be funny. She likes to push her toy car to go around. She likes to play with other children and be very friendly with other children.

To be honest, I experienced a wide range of emotions when we received this update. Part of me felt sadness when I saw her pictures, as she is no longer the 6 month old baby we've grown attached to in the referral pictures. She is now a toddler! But she is adorable! I was filled with joy and awe. We are very encouraged by the fact that she is saying words, as this indicates that the scar tissue on her tongue is not inhibiting her speech. We are shocked that she is already taking steps...developmentally on target and right where Carter was at this age. This shows that her foster family is giving her lots of attention and stimulation.

I am thankful that she seems loved and cared for. She loves her foster parents. But that also means that she will grieve deeply when we travel to pick her up. I think about Carter being taken from us - the only family he's ever known. It breaks my heart to think of the confusion and devastation he would experience. That is what our daughter will go through. And I've been praying daily that God will protect her joy and her sweet spirit. That He will give her resilience and healing. That He will bless her with a sense of peace and comfort when she is placed in our arms. Adoption experts say that children who bond and grieve are more likely to bond again than children who never attach to anyone. So in some ways, this news of Virginia Grace's love for her foster parents is positive. Scott and I are also preparing ourselves that the first few days (and even weeks) with Virginia Grace may be difficult for her.

More than anything, I was struck by the similarities between our little girl's personality and Carter's. She seems designed to fit with our family. I can't wait to see them interact and play together!

We are so thankful for this update as we wait on our next approval, the LOA. We're praying that it will come by the first week of January. (and sooner would be amazing!)

Thank you for your prayers, support, encouragement, and excitement!

Love,

11.14.2009

Kisses in the Wind

A few days ago, I connected with a family who is adopting a little girl from the same orphanage/foster village where Virginia Grace is! Both of our girls are 11 months old, and each is pictured on the same playmat. We've been smiling at the thought that Virginia Grace and Anna probably play together! We're also hoping we might be able to travel at the same time. On her blog, Red Thread to Anna, is the poem below. Scott and I both teared up when we read it.

Kisses in the Wind

We hold you in our hearts and touch you in our dreams.
You are here each day with us, at least that’s how it seems.
I know you wonder where we are … what’s taking us so long.
But remember child, We love you so and God will keep you strong.

Now go outside and feel the breeze and let it touch your skin…
Because tonight, just as always, We blow you kisses in the wind.
May God hold you in His hand until we can be with you.
We promise you, our sweet girl, we are doing all we can do.

Very soon, you’ll have a family for real, not just pretend.
But for tonight, just as always, we blow you kisses in the wind.
May God wrap you in His arms and hold you very tight.
And let the angels bring the kisses that we send to you each night.

~Unknown Author~

11.12.2009

PA!!!

Yay!!! We got our PA (Pre-Approval) to adopt Virginia Grace!! We got the email late last night, as it was already daytime in China. So our PA date is 11/12/09. I was getting antsy for some sort of update or progress, so I'm so thankful it finally came. This the first step I wrote about in this post. Now we're waiting on LOA, which is the approval that can take 3 months or longer. Although, we've had some friends receive it extremely quickly. Please pray it will come sooner than expected! Once we get that approval, it's not long after to receive travel approval to pick her up.

In the meantime, we can now send a care package to our sweet girl. Off to go shopping!

11.11.2009

Fall 2009 Family Pictures

Emily Hooten took some family pictures for us last Friday at the Botanical Gardens. Carter had had his flu shot that morning and wasn't in the best of moods, but you'd never know it from the pictures - Emily worked her magic!!

Here are a few of the shots:











More Family Pictures










11.10.2009

11.09.2009

Around the World


Carter and his Uncle Stuart checking out his new world map. I think their next trip is to Antarctica. They plan to ride that whale they're pointing at. :)

11.03.2009

Kiss!

Carter is already learning tactics to avoid posing for pictures. A few days ago, I told him to stand by the flowers. First, he turned to smell them.
Then, he backed up to the edge of the front porch and proclaimed, "railing." I suppose he felt flowers weren't the most masculine backdrop for him.
Again, I said, "Carter, please stand by the flowers and smile." And Carter devised the most successful strategy for avoiding picture-posing so far...he lunged for me, exclaiming, "KISS!!"
I mean, what mama is going to turn down a son's sweet kiss and hug just to catch a perfectly placed and posed snapshot?? I caught him on camera in mid-stride to me with his arms opened wide.... This picture, I'll treasure! :)