So after my meltdown (yes meltdown as things aren't always rosy in the world of adoption), a friend K was there just in time [I knew K but I didn't really know her before this weekend except from meeting her at a Families with Children from China gathering, a hey there at Goodwill (trying to "breathe her air" as I knew she was amazing with her 8 adopted special needs children) and a few fundraising ideas via email in between (and some stalking through FB)]. So K happened (I say that lightly because I know it has God's fingerprint on it) to post a FB question about messaging her if you want to share adoption struggles for an "article" she was writing. I laughed to myself and said she is up to something. God gave me the chance to speak up then but I went on with my robotic day. Then K posted on FB that based on the overwhelming response she was going to create a FB page to support post adoption families. I said SIGN ME UP! She did and once I posted my intro and how I felt "broken" lately she immediately responded by asking WHEN could we get together the next day! (not if but when) She was taking the time out of 8 adopted children on a busy Sunday as a pastors wife to meet with me. Boy can God be loud sometimes! I went and although I thought I would cry the whole time (like I did all week), I was able to share and share. And guess what, she shared and hey, I wasn't by myself in this confusing world of adoption. Then she asked what I was doing this coming weekend. She told me there was this retreat for adoptive moms that she was going to and maybe there was still room for one more. I asked if it was christian based because if I know one thing about my pain it was that I needed God involved. We departed feeling better and while I wasn't ready to go home yet I wandered around a bit. K FB messaged me that there was a space. I told my husband about it and immediately he said GO! I signed up and got a big YAYYY from K. I was excited!
So when I signed up with the retreat I felt like ahhhhhh....then I woke up the next morning and said to myself (and probably to my husband too), "What the heck do I think I am doing running off for a few days when I have two kids and a house to take care of." At some point before the crying here and there and the robotic moves of the prior days I finally realized I wasn't running away from anything (this time) but I was RUNNING TO GOD, the ONLY ONE who could help me in my time of weariness, defeat, pain, uncertainty.... On Friday, I took a deep breathe and got in the car to start my journey and I don't just mean my journey to meet the girls to drive to the retreat. I was about to embark on a journey that was not just going to save my life, but my soul......my every being.
I can't define when it was during the retreat time or what particular story it happened during where my heart just - I don't know - found itself again, felt it's own beat and not the beat of everyone else or everything else around me. It found me, that me that had been missing for longer than I originally thought (probably since the arrival of our first son). In finding me I found something great - I found God again! Sure He was always there and I definitely knew that but now I was able to focus enough to see and feel him. I was able to remember that God gave me these GIFTS not burdens, not fears but these true gifts. I didn't push this on me, God gifted me it. Saying that these adoptions are gifts aren't just words anymore to be used as a cover up for all of the brokenness I had been feeling but I was truly able to feel the gifts that God gave me. The greatest was my husband and my two boys and all the love I have for ALL of them. It didn't mean that I needed to run back home at that moment from the retreat. For one I still can't define that moment and for two, I knew I needed to keep absorbing the "aura" of the whole weekend. Basically I needed a chance to relax and take it all in. (Note: After typing all of this I titled the post "retreat" and it occurred to me that the word retreat not just refers to a place and I didn't see it as withdrawing but as a place to take a much needed step back to gain the strength to move forward stronger).
I was able to recall (and say out loud - thanks to those who opened not only their hearts but their ears this past weekend) how He said yes to this child so soon after our first and how He provided when we had no idea how it was going to happen financially. For the first time since Gabriel's crying began when I first met him, I was able to remember when I cried uncontrollably the moment I opened the pictures from the first update on him, when I knew he was ours! I was able to recall when the three of us watched the video's for the first time and we asked Anthony if this boy was happy and he said no (there was no indication in the video that he wasn't happy). I recalled when we then asked Anthony if this little boy would be happy here as I waved my arm around the area and he said yes! Then we asked if he would play with him and he said yes and started to show the toys they would play with (which by the way are the toys Gabriel is playing with right now as I type away)! I GOT TO REMEMBER THIS!!! We accepted him as a referral to be our son. I got to remember how then we were still back and forth with the adopting due to not knowing how we could afford it. I remembered the pain I felt when I thought about having to say no and the pain thinking about saying yes! I remember how Eric and I got on our knees over our bed in prayer (I called it the old fashioned way like little children) asking God for peace in either decision, no matter what it was He wanted us to do. I got to remember how we both woke up the next morning and said let's go get our son!!!!! I remembered how money trickled in with small numbers and how those small numbers added up. And when they didn't, I got to remember how a friend showed up at our door step with a check that would cover the travel expenses!!! I GOT TO REMEMBER HOW GOD ORCHESTRATED THIS WHOLE THING!!! So YES, this was meant to be. I did not make it happen, I did not put this on my family. God wanted this boy in our home, God gave him to us as a gift! And what a gift he is. He laughs, he giggles. He is so smart!!!! He communicates through pointing and while we are telling him what these things he is pointing to are, he is taking it all in! He is amazing! Just as amazing as our first son!
I know that some people out there are scratching there heads and saying, what in the world happened this weekend and what in the world happened before that (as our adoption exteriors always reveal all is just "honky dory"). This weekend my life was saved; my body, mind and soul. Will it always feel this beautiful, heck no. But I was reminded this weekend that God is here. All of what we do are in his glory, are for him.
There was almost 100 women at the retreat this weekend. Only 1 of who I knew (and really only just a little bit THEN), yet I felt like I knew them all. I felt them all in my heart. I may not know them all by name but I know their hearts. I know that God brought every single one of them there for a reason by a different path and through his Grace we didn't leave as single's but as whole's - each of us was inside each other. Our spirits bonded as God intended them to. We left with that and we will carry it until we meet again, where God will design our paths in his Own way.
I am eternally grateful for K reaching her busy hand out to me. I am loving that I made new friends (more than just FB friends :) in the area. K, B & B, I hope we can continue to mold our friendships with God in the middle. Thank you for making room for an extra body in the crowded room. I am also grateful to M for making me laugh and cry in the same breathe - even though you are from NJ, you are soooo NY to me!!! Thank you "Joy for the Journey Retreats" and all the beautiful women who laughed and cried with us! I look forward to seeing you again next year!
I am so blessed to have a husband to shout GO right away, without a thought! I love him dearly. And most of all I thank God for getting me back on my feet, for allowing me to remember His blessings, for providing me with His grace and for His beautiful plan! Thank you Lord God!!!
God Bless you all and may you feel the powerful spirit of God with you through your ups and downs!!!
As always, please continue to pray for the orphans who need the love of a forever family AND please pray for those forever families that are struggling with the many challenges that adoption brings.
.....and we survived!!!! While I am writing this I am watching Gabriel on the monitor - he really comes alive at night (now we know why his foster parents had him up until 11 or 12 - mega extra cute at night). He doesn't cry when we put him down (well, maybe a few times he did) and I don't have to stay in there with him but he moves all over the bed! He flip flops and says "gah gah gah" (or is it "guy guy guy"). So when he is practically sitting up and I see him on the monitor I just use the remote to say "no Gabriel" (or even just Gabriel) and he lays right down and doesn't move. It's actually pretty funny. Then he gets up again after remaining perfectly still and a few minutes later we do it again. I must record it because it is funny - no not mean at all - don't need to call the social worker! He is so funny!!! I am telling you, this kid is a night owl!!! He does sleep the entire night but his crazy personality comes out at about 7 pm!!!
Back to the week we survived while Dadda went to work (which I am so grateful to as I get the best job in the world - being home with these two incredible kids). Monday was really tough. So tough that when Eric came home Monday one of us had to get Anthony to religious ed and he said he would when I said no way, I'm going!!!!! I just had to get out after Gabriel cried over just about everything that day. It got better throughout the week though. I mentioned in an earlier post that I took him to story time on Tuesday where he flipped out at first (got better and he loved it). Wednesday I took Anthony and Gabriel to Come Learn with Me. It was a small group and they both had a great time. The week went really well overall. Gabriel is really starting to come around. We have a regular routine that includes taking Anthony to the bus stop in the morning. He really, really loves Anthony. He has the biggest smile on when he sees him (a huge smile when he sees Dadda too). As a matter of fact he was looking for Anthony while I was changing him and I said something to Anthony about it. Anthony asked why (the usual) and I said because he loves you. Then I said to Gabriel, "You love Anthony right?" - not expecting an answer - he said "I do"!!! We both looked at each other and said "wow"! So we called Dadda on his way to work to share it. I asked Gabriel if he loved Dadda and he said "I do". Now of course this is probably just another version of him playing ahhh chooo but we will take it!
(I just told Gabriel through the monitor to close his eyes and he put his hands over his eyes! Too cute! I tried to teach him how to close his eyes by putting my hands over my eyes and this is what we got. It reminds me of when we tried to teach Anthony how to smile and this is what we got:
Gotcha Day Sept 2, 2012!
Today Gabriel and I looked at the handsome boy in the mirror and we kissed the mirror. So tonight for jammie time we did the same thing but with "Mwuahhh" and sure enough he was saying "Mwuahhhh"! Yeah! And we ran to Dadda to show him and he blew Dadda a kiss with "Mwuahhh" attached to it!!! This little guy is way too cute!!! Did I mention he knows HUGS???!!!!! He loves to give us hugs!
We have our Hopkins International Adoption appointment on Tuesday with an incredible doctor! Dr. Dibs has already emailed me and answered every email of mine immediately and she even called (& answers her own phone). She is very knowledgeable and so kind. I am looking forward to meeting her. Our biggest concern is Gabriel's weight. I thought he gained 2.5 pounds but he didn't keep it on (or the scale is off which is possible) because the last time I weighed him it was only a 1.5 pound gain. I am certainly worried about this (along with the lack normal poop - TMI?). Dr. Dibs said that it's pretty common for a child to have a head that small and be small (am I suppose to feel good about that? - deep breath - he seems to be ok cognitively so far)!
Well, a good week indeed! A great week - lots of prayers and answered ones!!! Speaking of answered prayers......Walter (prayers asked for in a previous post) is doing so much better. He is still in ICU but is doing better. He still needs lots of prayers so please keep them coming!!! Another big wow in the adoption world....there was this little guy who we saw when we already received our LOA for Gabriel. He was 5 and left in a crib ALL of his life. He is missing the lower part of one leg and was basically ignored in a REALLY BAD orphanage (one that is known for tying kids arms up in cribs). His sweet face called out for a Momma and his Momma found him!!!!! This incredibly faithful family has decided to call him their own. If that news wasn't great enough his Momma was able to get him into a new home in China at Love Without Boundaries and I saw a picture of him after being there less than a week - his smile was just amazing, so alive!!!! It is amazing what a little love can do and boy is him in for a lot when he gets home to his forever family!!!!! My words for the day...God is sooooo good!!!! Take a minute to pray for the many China orphans that are so close to aging out for their 14th birthday- aging out means they are not considered adoptable anymore and their future could very well include being sent out to the streets AT 14 YEARS OLD! Think about what kind of future they have when they walk out of the orphanage gate....I can't even type what happens to them....please pray for those beautiful children who will soon age out - may God guide their forever families to them!!!
Put Anthony up in the tree and he held on tight (even drooling). Put Gabriel up there and he loved it - we have our daredevil!
Had to drag all three boys home for nap time!
Can not even begin to list the reasons why I love this shot...ok, maybe just one reason of the many - I love the way Anthony is just so confident while he walks his little brother.
Are you dying over this pictures like me?! (I am the Momma, so I am expected to I suppose, but come on, they are GREAT!)
We are having a great time. Gabriel is really adjusting well - yeah so ok yesterday he cried over just about everything and anything - and he cried a lot - but he is doing well. We had a great day today. We got up to walk Anthony to the bus stop - this poor skinny minnie was shaking it was so cold (ok, momma still learning here - forgot the blanket). Then he inhaled scrambled eggs. He had a quiet bath which means no screaming because there are bubbles in the tub or I put soap in his hair. He played until - yes, again -he was cold this time not shaking but purple lips (gotta get some fat on this boy). Dried him off, lathered him up, dressed him - no crying, no tears! So we headed to story time at the library. We walked in and he looked around then there it went - the screaming! I completely got why he screamed and cried. I think that it reminded him of the orphanage. He had to go back once a month to be measured and I'm sure there were lots of foster families with babies there. So we walked out. He continued to scream in the library (ohhh well). I took him to the play area and we sat by a bear that gives hugs (one of the many words he knows) and he laughed and smiled. Soon I was able to get him to walk around a little and then we walked right into the story time while they were dancing and playing music (perfect timing for a kid who loves both). It didn't take long for him to join in the fun! He was so good! He participated, he laughed, he played! It was great. The rest of the day went just as well. Some crying over nap time (which he never cries about - not since China) but overall a great day! Anthony and I got to do a little one on one learning about long and short and the same and different and recognizing 1-5 items without counting and writing and lots of good stuff like that (we are using Gabriel's nap time for his learning time. (By the way, although yesterday was tough with Gabriel crying and Eric returning to work - Anthony didn't have school so when he got up we read "When you give a moose a muffin" and then we made muffins just like we use to). Gabriel is beginning to learn to "wait' - where he cried yesterday immediately after asking him if he was hungry, today he made the eggs with me so he learned to wait and for dinner he walked around with his plate waiting to eat. (yes, he get's the plates and cups out for him and Anthony to eat).
He is just too precious! Anthony is such a great big brother (although today when he heard Gabriel through the monitor he said "ohh no")! So Gabriel gets real funny after dinner time. I can see how the foster family kept him up until 11 or 12 because he is extra stinking cute later in the night! He laughs and smiles and runs and dances all over the place! Ahhh, he is cute - but yes, we are getting him to bed much earlier!
Well, I had better wrap things up so I can get plenty of sleep to be ready for anything tomorrow!!! Thank you for checking in and thank you for all of your support, wishes and prayers! Please share some of that prayer time with the many orphans that continue to wait for their forever families! Blessings to you and yours!!!!
.....I type this post as I continue to pray (like I have been doing all day for the past week) for a sweet little angel Walter. Walter was adopted at the same time from the same city as Anthony. His forever family includes his momma, dadda and three sisters (beautiful family). Walter has been fighting for his life for the past week. He has been battling uro-septis and now peritonitis on top of it. Drain tubes aren't enough at this point. He was in surgery the last update and we are desperately waiting to hear how his little body is doing. You have no idea how lucky you are until you are face to face with a child's life in danger. Another friend who also adopted at the same time from the same orphanage - although her daughter is healthy after being 15 pounds on gotcha day at 4 years old - struggles with the damage that her angels little body has endured leaving her developmentally delayed in too many ways. I feel blessed and I promised not to complain when Gabriel cries (our screaming angel).....I promise to remember just how blessed we are. Although we are not standing there besides our friends (we so wish we were) that invisible red thread they talk about is so real....it binds our hearts.....there are no words to describe it. I sit in silence while I stare blankly at this screen...I am without words....I can only keep praying....I ask you to do the same... for Walter and his forever family....for Claire and her forever family.....for all of those forever families that are not born to be faint at heart but to be strong for their forever families...
I promise more pictures soon....good ones to share....just need time for prayer right now....thank you.
GOOD NEWS! Ok I know you may think I am a bad mommy for saying this picture is good news but it is....we have been so worried about Gabriel's very vague China medical report about nerve damage and the fact that every time he fell or bumped his head he never cried - it didn't even phase him when it should have (on one of the flights he head butted my front teeth really hard - easy to do considering their size - and he just touched it and it was a non issue).....well, he cried today!!!! YEAH!!!! We went to the park and Anthony dropped him on his head and he cried - yeah (you are laughing at this I know it). Then he tripped at the park and did this (insert picture) and he cried and cried!!! Every time he did fall we made a big deal about it with the chance that maybe he just never got the attention he needed and sure enough that may have been the case instead of some potential nerve issue.....one happy momma - yes, take note - happy that her little one cried!!!! Here are some shots of a great day with my favorite boys (ok, don't tell the dogs or cat I said that)...
On behalf of all of those children without families, please take a minute to watch this powerful video...thank you
(the first image of a child with cleft lip and palate wrapped up left at a front door makes me think of Anthony - he was estimated to be ONE DAY OLD when he was left somewhere wrapped up in a blue blanket)
My Facebook post: - funny only one comment and two likes - all from adoptive families! When people ask (or respectfully wonder to themselves) why adopt and why would you adopt again so soon .....take 3 minutes out of your busy day to watch this, please...thank you to those who when they can't adopt - support or volunteer - and of course thanks to those who are called to adopt and provide wings to help these children soar! Would I do it again? I know I wouldn't or couldn't just pretend the need to love, sponsor, volunteer, adopt doesn't exist domestically or internationally. Watch the video....