Monday, March 30, 2015

A Princess

To say that this child is an angel is an understatement. She's been quiet. Very quiet. But aware. 
Internet has been spotty and I am tired so I'll quickly update. 

We went to get Elizabeth about 3pm along with two other MAA families. 

I already posted photos and video on FB so I won't repeat those but here's a few others.

 We received the kids at the Civil Affairs office, She came right to me with a napkin clenched in her hand. I said "I'm Mama" and she got a silly grin on her face! Then came right to me! 
She is so aware of her surroundings. She kept looking over at a 2 year old friend of hers who was scared and crying. Seeing how upset she was when we all got into the van she eventually handed her that comfort napkin to wipe her face...such a compassionate heart she has. It was so sweet. Then she took it back haha. We still have it. (I remember Evan came with a bag of potato chips. I regretted throwing them away-this napkin with stay with us)
 She's a girl who likes accessories, Lots of them! She had every bracelet and hairband on that I brought! We need to shop! And the yard-sale Poly Pockets was a hit!!!
 Played for hours when we got back from eating.
 After a bath (she took the dolls in the tub) she princessed up in her tutu and new jammies and...
 .... played with those dolls a bit longer!
 An Angel.... she loves hugs and snuggles! And Arielle adores her!

Tomorrow is Adoption Day... When she becomes Elizabeth LongJu Fithian forever!

We are truly blessed to have such a treasure. A gift from God. I know that Jesus is doing a miracle through this one. She has a gentle spirit. And is smart too. I was counting her dolls and she finished counting for me... 

in English

I didn't expect that!

 More to come later....

Sunday, March 29, 2015

We are here... no fancy title :)

We are here and got some rest. Internet connection is ok. But slow. We are getting ready to take a walk for some supplies and take some photos of the surrounding neighborhood. 
I am so nervous about tomorrow. We are supposed to receive Liz 2-2:30pm which would be 2am home time :) Pray for us and Elizabeth. I can't imagine what this is like for her. Her whole life is changing. I don't know how she will respond to that. But it must be scary for a 6 year old.
I honestly don't know what to pray. So I just keep praying for God's will. He started this journey, He's not going to abandon it now... Oh, Lord, my heart!


The Garden Hotel is beautiful... Here are a few photos...
Making some jasmine tea


Being silly.  I don't know what those flowers are about.
 Looks like some religious thing, like a prayer offering to something.



A flower for a flower




The entry way... This photo does not do it justice!


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ready or Not!

Bags are packed, well almost packed, except some sweatpants and shampoo we are still using. The house is still a mess but I plan to do that later... maybe. The boys are a mix of happy and sad, changing from minute to minute. Me too. 
I've checked that paperwork 102 times... and I still feel like I'm forgetting something. 

I have my pre-flight "headcold".





Elizabeth's bedroom is not done, but it's sleepable... I still need a night stand, and maybe a shelf for books and toys. And to finish putting up stars on the starry sky ceiling.

Thanks to awesome friends like Sue Dorrell and Bev Ferro she has a place to rest her head... with all her clothing in place!

A few pictures and decor on the walls and this room with be done. Maybe Liz can help, if she wants to. I wonder if she's ever had a room of her own. Probably not. Well, now she's a princess!



The men have bought their survival food, unsanctioned by mom. And they are very proud too! 



We have prayed, worshipped, thanked, and prayed again over and over and over... and continue without ceasing. Friends and family and even strangers (you know who you are) have supported us above and beyond the call of "duty". It has been an amazing journey so far that began 

One Year Ago

Almost exactly!

The first time we saw this face was March 21, 2014


We committed to adopt her April 12, 2014

And on March 31, 2015 Elizabeth will be a forever part of our family! Adoption Final!


And one thing is certain,

God ordained this adoption, He put it into motion and used many wonderful people to make this happen. My heart is full and I'm so excited to share our travels. 

In a few short days, this little girl, who has no family, and an 

"orphan status"

will be an orphan NO MORE! That is something to celebrate! Onward and Upward!


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Winter is Over

... Well, winter is not officially over, but as far as I'm concerned, it's done! But as we leave winter this week, I say good riddance, I mean, goodbye, with a few memories :) Onward and Upward!




Tuesday, March 3, 2015

It feels like forever

Almost everything is set... I'll be on my way on March 27th, receive our precious treasure on the 30th, do adoption related stuff (like passport, medical, visa, etc) while trying to learn more about her life and trying to bond some, then home on April 9th.

It feels like forever before I leave. It FEELS that way. Usually, once you receive TA, you are on the first available plane to wherever your child is. But scheduling did not allow that this time. 

But in 24 days, I will be on my way with my 17 year old daughter Arielle. Hubby will stay home with the boys. I will miss them terribly. 





Last time I was in China I lost over 10 pounds... of course the food choices I had were less than desirable. Well, unless you love authentic Chinese food. I LIKE it, but I don't love it. And when you are offered "extra" goodies like this, it takes away the appetite :) 

But I can't blame the food entirely, I was also sick...from the time I got off the plane. Don't know if it was food poisoning or a virus, but I'm praying it doesn't happen again!

I think this trip is going to be a good one. I don't know why but I think it will be REALLY good. Time will tell.

Lord prepare LongJu's little heart. Her whole world is about to change in a mighty big way. I pray she will know me. I pray that she will understand. I pray for her health to stay stable. And I pray ultimately for healing, inside and out. Be with us Lord and keep us safe on this journey of redemption. Just as You have redeemed us as Your own. You have taken the journey, paid the ransom and made us Yours. By the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ we are your adopted children. Yours. Fully, Totally Yours! 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sad Can Look Mad... (**Empowered to Connect)

Posted: 25 Feb 2015 08:06 PM PST
Nearly four years into our Empowered to Connect parenting journey, we often find ourselves needing to go back to some of the basic concepts we learned at the beginning! It seems that whenever we face a challenging season with our children, our first reaction is frustration. Our angry feelings are quickly followed by the urge to increase structure, without also increasing nurture, which further disconnects us from our children and leads to even more frustration. While we feel like slow learners at times, at least we’re learning. And I think our recovery time is decreasing each time we go through this process!
One of the phrases we learned early on in our training was “sad can look mad.” We’ve lived the reality of this with one of our boys, but when our other son started exhibiting rage-filled behaviors recently, we didn’t immediately remember this. Instead, we allowed our frustration to take over and we attempted to increase the structure in our home without a corresponding increase in nurture. We tried a few things, from consequences (such as taking away screen time) to incentives (such as “We’ll go to the mall for lunch on Friday if we’re on time to school every day this week!!”). Not surprisingly, we weren’t seeing positive results.
The angry episodes continued, and pretty soon it was the parents that were demonstrating rage-filled behavior more than anyone in the house. I remember thinking to myself at one point, “We seem to have lost our way. What are we missing here?” Not long after, the ‘sad looks mad’ phrase popped into my head. As I looked at what was happening from his perspective, I realized that our son was likely feeling the annual departure of his grandparents for Phoenix especially keenly this year. Grandparents play such a special role in our kids’ lives; they are a safe place of unconditional love where our kids are accepted just the way they are. Given the struggles our little guy has had at school this year, it’s no wonder he was feeling extra sad that two of the people who ‘get’ him were no longer around.
Once we realized this, our path became clearer. We are being much more intentional about giving our kids opportunities to connect with their grandparents (thankfully technology gives us the ability to connect face-to-face!). And, we’re initiating more conversations about our feelings, even when it seems like everyone is doing fine. When it comes to big feelings, my first instinct is to avoid them. Like an ostrich with its head in the sand, I figure if we don’t talk about it too much then it won’t be a big deal. While I may experience short-term relief, the long-term implications of this approach are often damaging. I’m learning over and over that we need to be proactive as parents when it comes to our children’s emotional worlds. Instead of ignoring the situation and hoping it will go away, we need to face it head-on. This is the only way our kids will learn to manage and express their emotions in healthy ways.
While we can’t ignore or excuse the behavior that comes with the mad feelings, we can be compassionate and empathetic about the sadness they’re experiencing. We can choose to shift our focus from punishing the behavior to calming their big feelings and giving them a chance for a ‘re-do’ once things have settled down. Armed with these insights, we find ourselves more able to stay connected to our children — especially when their behaviors seem to call for the opposite response!
** EMPOWERED TO CONNECT

Friday, February 13, 2015

Well it's here!

Travel approval! and I really don't have much to say about it except Praise You Jesus!

This has been an amazing journey, and we are almost done. But truly the real journey begins the end of March when Arielle and I go to China and bring home this amazing little treasure.

I have no real expectations of this trip. I only want to go out in Jesus Name and redeem this precious one. She belongs. She matters. And we can't wait!

I will be journaling in Elizabeth's Jellybeans website. It's for her. I will have a copy of the whole thing made on CD for her. A lifebook online. Facebook and Blogger is blocked in China. Access to FB and Blogger with a VPN has even been spotty for others recently-difficult to get around it. So I'm not sure how I will keep everyone up to date on FB etc. I will do my best :)

To enter the Jellybeans Website just click HERE, or the photo below! Sign the guest book and let us and Elizabeth know you were here!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Bring-me-some-good-news Tuesday!

 I'm pretty sure the longest month of the entire year is January. Not for the number of days, but for the number of days I spend dreaming of spring. I can't wait for Groundhog Day this coming Monday!!! Come on Punxsutawney Phil give me some hope for warmer days ahead! January's goal of keeping the boys busy and alive is always a challenge. They literally bounce off each other and every piece of furniture that gets in their way. And when the grand-boys are here, they do  the same! 

Bounce, Jump, Bang, Crash, Yell, repeat....over and over and over and over. I put games out where they can see them and art supplies, just to "encourage" them to stop moving. 

Warmer weather means more time OUTSIDE!

This Tuesday our Article 5 approval is scheduled for pick up. This is a letter from the US Central Authority that lets China know all the Hague requirements have been met and the US approves this adoption. Therefore, China can formally invite us to come! Travel Approval (TA)! Once the article 5 is received by CCCWA, we could have TA within a week. So we probably have less then 2 weeks for this .... oh my heart!

Therefore, this year amidst the bounce, jump, bang, crash, yell, I am fully engaged in preparations knowing I will soon be in China. 

We will soon be the parents of 7 kids. 

I am strangely calm, except for obsessively and compulsively checking my email. 

Check, refresh, check, refresh... until finally something comes in the form of adoption news! Email can be a dangerous thing for an expectant adoptive mother. Now, I'm sure YOU would not behave like this. You're much too busy and mature to get crazy about timelines and spreadsheets that some other OCD expectant mom (far worse them me-insert sarcasm) has created to ensure we have the exact dates paperwork may arrive at the appropriate office. And if it doesn't arrive on that predicted date.... the OCD email happens again! Sending emails and waiting for responses.
Our Poor Agency! Please forgive me! I'm thankful for our FB adoption groups. 
It gives a place to "vent" and connect with others on this journey to  Crazy ... I mean China :)
 And in the meantime I still need to get some home school done. Art this week. It was fun! We don't always do it but we (I) needed a break-to check email, of course. So during a snow day we got out the oil pastels. Listened to classical music, and tried to relax. 


This was supposed to be over a foot of snow.... silly weather people.... ooopsy
 The Governor declared a "state of emergency" for the entire state due to the impending blizzard :)
 It didn't come...
 But the kids had fun! Except maybe Arielle. (but she had fun too. For some reason she enjoys shoveling snow. Or maybe her enjoyment was the day off of school she had! Thanks Gov.)

So now I'm nearing the END of this Paperwork Pregnancy. Waiting for a delivery date. 

It's coming, soon. 

I know that God had lead us to this journey.  I'm curious as to what this will bring. And scared too. Things are going good here. 

VERY GOOD!

Why would we "rock the boat"?

But there is a little girl on the other side of the world who needs a family. And for some reason God saw it fit for us to be that family. It doesn't matter what I think. All that matters is my obedience. 

Yes Lord, here I am. Use me. 

Abiding in Faith.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Faith - Part 2

...Continued from Part 1 yesterday (CLICK HERE for that)

I'm a stay at home mom. It's a privilege I don't take lightly. I know we are all led to different paths. A parent who chooses to stay at home is no better then a working parent, and the other way around. :)

But being home, and homeschooling, has afforded us to do what we do for our current brood. Our schedule is flexible, that is how we like it! Medical appointments and home-school trips fill most of our calender. It's those spontaneous field trips we love the most, life is too short to do math on a sunny spring day! (don't worry, we get the math done!)

All of our adopted kids had/have some form of medical special need. So life can be a bit chaotic at times. It was our experience with our son Asher that brought us to the path we are now on with our current adoption. 
My son Asher has sickle cell disease, a genetic blood disorder. One complication of SC is a condition called acute chest syndrome. It's an extremely painful and serious complication and can lead to death. Asher's body is prone to this when he gets sick. 

He was born in Haiti and not diagnosed for almost three years, until he came home. There where many moments we had stormed the throne of God with petitions to heal infection and unknown sickness in his body-we were so far away from Haiti, how else could we help?!  But he survived, miraculously.
2 1/2 years were spent on my knees, pleading the healing blood of Jesus to wash over him and take the sickness away. Praying that God would get him out of Haiti to a place where help is plentiful. My eyes were opened to spiritual warfare and mountain moving prayer...

He was finally granted permission to come home by "the powers that be" in Haiti, and went from the plane to the hospital. He was full of infection and pain. Our suspisions were confirmed... Sickle Cell SS disease. Today it can be challenging (especially for him!) but he is one of the biggest blessings of our lives. If he had not been adopted, Asher would not be alive today.

Adoption literally saved my son's life.

 Look at this kid!     And our world is full of "Asher's".


Since our last adoption in 2011 (Arielle-forever home at almost 14), I had seen more and more children who were available for adoption from China with thalassemia, another genetic blood disorder. I became curious. Many of the symptoms present themselves like SC. Symptoms Asher deals with daily- so I did a little research. Thalassemia looks scary if you had nothing to compare it to. But having this connection with hematology, it didn't look so scary to us. In fact, I saw huge possibilities! We live so close our choice of children's hospitals.

So when I received a little photo of a little girl in China who was 5 years old with thalasseamia, I immediately sent it to Brad! There was something about her. MAA was willing to waive some of the fees due to the severity of her special need (love MAA! They truly care about the kids!).  We prayed for a couple weeks and the answer was clear.

YES!

And it was "yes" in our heart before we even had her file looked at. We knew it in our heart, but needed confirmation. And we got that too! Both directors of MAA had met her and fell in love. As soon as I showed her file to Asher's hematologist (she's an adoptive Mom too! China!), she loved her as well.
We were all smitten <3

We didn't have a dime. Not one cent to contribute. Nothing to start with.



But we had the name, Elizabeth - God is a Vow

His promise


Luke 1:45 "And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of the things that were spoken to her from the Lord."

So we rested on this promise that God was in this and He will provide everything...  we stepped
out in Faith. The rest of this story is pretty quick, and straightforward.

We knew God was in this. His very heart is for the orphan. We began to sell bracelets and other fundraising and money started to trickle in. We had what we needed, when we needed it.

We applied for 3 grants - and got all three!








Yesterday we also found out that our orphanage fee was waived as well!!!

Blessed beyond measure!

I realize how difficult it is when you are adopting and the money does not come this easy. I know, because I've experienced it. But, the Lord still provided a way for each of our adopted babies. I don't know why this final adoption He has made so easy financially. I have no answer to this. But we give God all the praise for all of our children. ALL of them. They are each one a gift from God. Maybe God opened the door so wide for Elizabeth because we were so reluctant to walk through it at our age... Maybe. When God makes the way so clear, it's just foolishness not to listen....

We are soon to have 7 kids! 7 is the number of perfection and this will be our last adoption.

But we aren't finished! We have more work to do for the orphan.
 That's another topic for another time.

Join us on FB! Elizabeth LongJu - God's Promise, One Less Orphan

And

(for more information on Liz, where she is, and adoption stats, click on the logo)


http://www.babyjellybeans.com/web/do/site/home?ID=744670














Monday, January 12, 2015

Hope - Part 1

I want to encourage you today. Some of us are on journeys that are difficult...and I'm not just talking about adoption. Some of us have a dream on our hearts, or an idea or vision. And to make that dream, idea, or vision a reality is impossible, unreachable. Please keep reading...

I've been trying figure out a good way to express exactly how this adoption journey has unfolded. Of course we are still on the path to our daughter, the journey has not ended yet. In fact, once she is in our arms, home forever, the true journey begins. But as I sit here typing, my mind drifts back  to a name I felt God impress on my heart in a dream. We were deciding on a name for a little girl:

Eliza or Elizabeth

In the dream I wrote these names on a piece of paper and showed it to Brad, then I awoke. It made such an impression on me that I wrote it down in my journal. I couldn't get this dream out of my mind. Then I looked up the meaning of both names. Eliza is a form of Elizabeth.

Elizabeth - God is a Vow -

I had this dream during a time of financial struggle and unemployment. And this dream gave me 

HOPE. 

I knew God had not forgotten us. A "vow" is a promise.... truth. And when God makes a vow, He "is" the vow. For God to lie would go against the very definition of who God is.

I wrote this in my journal October 2012:

Elizabeth - God is a vow. You have vowed. You are faithful. Your message of faithfulness is clear! You have heard our plea, and You are faithful to Your promise of provision. Thank You Jesus. Fill my heart with Your understanding.

We were struggling to pay our bills, pay our mortgage, and eventually food. The unemployment announcement came shortly after we brought Arielle home from China. Another adoption wasn't even on our radar. In fact, at that time, the current needs of our children made the thought of adoption an impossibility. All we wanted was "normal". The added stress of "lack of money" hit heavy. I don't want to seem overly dramatic, because as we lived life through that season we made a choice:

Obedience

Give

Rejoice - regardless of circumstance!

It blessed us! We had already lived through losing a home many years ago due to unemployment. And we did not want to relive that again. But we learned something through that experience...

"Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In ALL your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path."
Proverbs 3:5&6

"Give and it will be given back to you..."
Luke 6:38

"Rejoice in the Lord Always"... We knew God was/is in control. We need to CHOOSE to believe His promises, regardless of circumstance.

God's Vow. Period.

At the end of a very difficult 2013(and extended time in the PICU with Asher!)  our prayers were answered and Brad got the job we needed to pay the bills and the mortgage yay! I could go on and on about God's provision, giving, etc, but it would take too long and I'm too ADD to stay focused that long!

One year ago, January 2014, we were just getting back on our feet and enjoying the new wonderful normal we seemed to have finally achieved.

I received an email from Madison Adoption Associates. They had reduced their application fee, and I found myself filling out an application to adopt ONE LAST TIME. Although we were nowhere near ready, we had talked about starting the process sometime during 2014 AFTER we become a little more financially stable and regain some savings. Waiting would be the "wise" thing to do... And we really weren't sure we wanted to adopt again. We both felt like there may be one more. Another Daughter. But we were pretty content.

 to be continued...

(Part 2)