Some new photos

Monday, April 28, 2008

Just some recent pictures. The first one is of all of the kids I homeschool (minus Lily, who was working with Dad that day), and the friend from church who comes to do science with them once a week. They had just finished making a model of a flower.

The other pictures are ones that we took this weekend before church on Saturday and Sunday.

Neat little Jadon

One day, I realized that I pick up a lot more of the girls' things, then I do the boys' things. That same day, I noticed Jadon's pencil box. Then, I noticed his drawer. Then a couple of days later when I took a shirt off of a hanger for him, he asked me to make sure that I put the hanger on the side of his closet, not back where the shirt was. Wow! He's really not the sort of kid who you would think was particularly neat. He often has food on his face and grass stains on his knees. I guess that he doesn't really notice or care about those things. But he sure cares about his pencil box. Notice that the colored pencils are placed in the order of the color of the rainbow! LOL

"Drawing With Children"

These pictures were all done using the techniques from the book "Drawing with Children" (although Yana's drawings are a combination of the drawing techniques from the book and her own skills that she already had when we adopted her). My children were between the ages of 4 and 8 when they drew these pictures. The first two, Yana drew at 8 and 9 years old, the second two, Adam drew at 6 and 7 years old, the third group of two, Lily drew at 5 years old and the last group of two, Jadon drew at 4 and 5 years old. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it for homeschoolers or anyone else.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Well, we decided to go ahead and get all of the kids' passports. We haven't completely decided whether or not we will all go to get Grace, or if just Lily and I will go. There are a couple of reasons that Lily will go no matter what. First of all, it is very hard for Lily if I leave even for the day. She just really wants to be with me, and it is stressful for her if I am gone from her for any period of time. The other reason is that she is really ready to see China again. She started asking questions about China when she was two years old, and hasn't stopped asking since!

But, we are leaning towards all going. The other kids know that they may stay home with Dad, and they are fine with that. But, they are also extremely excited about the possibility of going to China. They are so ready to get Grace and it would be wonderful to be able to meet her as a family. We may overwhelm her a bit, but I guess that she has to get used to us all at some point!

Sweet boy

Friday, April 25, 2008

Yesterday I went into Adam's room (which is actually all of the kids' room) to check on him. He had been doing his schoolwork and reading in his bed because he wasn't feeling well. He looked like he was doing worse, and I asked him if he was feeling pretty bad. He said "no" and we talked for a minute or two. Then, with tears in his eyes, he said, "Mom, it was just that book. It was so sad at the end." Adam had been reading a book about dogsled racing and the lead dog died at the end. He was absolutely touched by this story and grieved in his soul for the sadness of the death of this dog.

My sweet Adam has always been such a sensitive soul. When he was 3 years old he was terrified of the wind. When it was windy, he would run around to people's houses (we lived in a townhome complex) and take things to them that were in their yards because he was afraid they would blow away in the wind. When he was four years old we went to see Piglet's Big Movie. He cried when Piglet lost his journal down the river. He was so sad for Piglet. When our pet hamster died (we had had her for 2 days), he was completely grieved for the life that was lost. A year ago we watched a movie about St. Therese. She dies at the end of the movie and Adam was so moved by this that it affected him for days.

I am so grateful for each one of my children's unique and special personalities. Today, I feel particularly grateful for my precious Adam, who has such a sensitive and compassionate heart that it reminds me of the compassion that the Father feels for all of His precious creation.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ask anyone who has adopted what the most difficult part was, and they will almost always say, "The waiting." Well, we are in that waiting period. Right now we are waiting for our I 171 from INS. After we get that, we will be waiting for the Chinese government, instead of the U.S. government.

I would have to say, however, that this is the easiest "waiting" that we have done. The most important reason why the waiting is easier this time around is that we have learned to praise God when we feel discouraged or close to discouragement or before we even get close to discouragement! I know that He has all things under control and that He loves Grace more than I ever could.

Sometimes, however, I do forget about His perfect love. When I do, I tell myself the truth and I praise God--out loud, and often very loudly (this is funny, because I am not a loud person!). What a privilege it is to praise our God! And He is worthy of our praise. I could never praise Him enough. I know that after we get Grace I will see some of the reasons for the wait. And even though I may never know all of the reasons, I trust that my Father has reasons that are absolutely flowing out of the love of His heart. So, for now, I will praise Him for all that I do know about Him. And one of those things is that He absolutely loves and adores our little Grace.

God and children

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

For the past couple of mornings during our family prayer times, Lily has told us that she has "seen" things while I read a Psalm (I read a Psalm and David leads the singing). She see people dancing and praising God. She sees the Father smile at us. She hears God saying that He loves us. Now, this doesn't necessarily happen every day, but it is not unusual for any of our children to see visions of God or to hear from God. I am absolutely convinced that many children have these experiences of God. But, often, adults think that they are just making these things up. Even if the adults don't say it, the children eventually realize that is what the adults are thinking and pretty soon, the children stop believing them, as well.

Is it really so hard to believe that our God loves us and wants to speak to us?! (Adults too!) Now, I understand that someone who doesn't believe in God, may think that the child is making things up, but as Christians we believe that our Father loves us and really does want to communicate with us intimately. I am so grateful that He is communicating His love to my precious, sweet immature children. I am also grateful that He communicates His love to me (and I am immature, as well!). What a loving Father!

Package for Grace

Monday, April 21, 2008

We sent out package #2 for our little Grace, on Saturday. We sent pants, a shirt, socks, barrettes (enough to share with friends), a small rag doll and some pictures to put in the little photo album that we sent last time. I plan on sending a package about every 5 or 6 weeks until we are able to get our little sweetheart. I was able to fit all of that in an overseas express mail envelope, so it only cost $11. When we sent things to Jadon, we know that he received those things (we got pictures). So, I pray that Grace gets her packages and has some idea that we are hoping to get her as soon as we can!


Thursday, April 17, 2008

I am so extremely grateful for each of our sweet children, but that's actually not what I primarily want to write about. What I want to write about is how to cultivate a grateful spirit in children. It is soooo encouraging to hear our children say, "Thanks mom and dad, for..."(whatever the thing might be). One thing that we have found really cultivates gratefulness in our children is if their expectations are set, by not overloading them with stuff or having all of their desires met. For example, last week David took the kids out for breakfast. They went to get bagels and David got them each an orange juice. When they got home they each told me (separately) about how they got an orange juice and 1 1/2 bagels. They were so excited! Then David told me that they thanked him at least 3 times for the orange juice. They didn't expect the orange juice, and were so grateful to get it when they got their bagels.

I also read something a couple of years ago that I think is helpful (and true!). Being grateful, as parents, helps our children to be grateful. So, for example, it is more helpful to make a point of being particularly grateful to a waiter/waitress at a restaurant than it is to constantly remind our children to say "Thank you." I might remind our kids to say "thank you" sometimes, but mostly I try to point out how grateful I am for how other people serve us (e.g. "Wow. Wasn't that nice of that waiter to refill our waters? He is serving us.") Kids catch on to this and remember (at least some of the time!) that we should be grateful for the many ways that people serve us every day.

I'd love to hear how some of you cultivate gratefulness in your children, or how you keep a grateful spirit yourselves!

A Good Movie

Sunday, April 13, 2008

David and I watched the movie Don Bosco last night. It is a great film about the life of the Catholic saint, Don (or Jon) Bosco. He lived in Italy in the 1800's and took care of about 300 boys with an incredible love and an incredible leading from the Holy Spirit. His life has many similarities to the Bakers (see the sidebar for "great books that I am reading"). We were very inspired by his life of love for street boys and for the Lord.

Competition and Playing by the Rules

My two boys are very different from one another. Jadon is a wild and crazy little guy who LOVES to win at everything that he does. Adam, on the other hand, is a play-it-by-the-rules kind of boy. Here was part of our conversation as we played a game (the Family Fun Game by Cranium) last night.

Adam: "Hey. It says here in the directions that the person with the next birthday goes first. So, since the girls are on a team together, they go first. Yana and Mommy have the next birthday (both of our birthdays are on Aug. 30th)."

A minute later...Jadon: "Dad says we should roll to see who goes first." (Dad didn't hear the birthday rule...ummm, Jadon did).

Dad (who is well aware of Jadon's competitive spirit): "Yeah. But I think that the rule is, if you roll the highest number, then the girls go first. And if you roll the lowest number, then the girls go first."

Jadon: "No. That's not how it goes, Dad."

Dad: "Oh yeah, I guess that the rule is, if Yana rolls the highest number, then the girls go first. But, if Yana rolls the lowest number, then the girls go first."

Adam: "Dad, I think that the rules say the person with the next birthday goes first. I think that it would be best to follow the rules."

How could anyone argue with that? I mean, anyone except Jadon, because he did try to argue with that. Unsuccessfully, though. But, he did try other means to give his team the advantage, such as when he was drawing a picture he said, "It starts with B." So, that got him 5 minutes out of the game. And when his team won, we had to inform him that he did not win, because he was cheating. But, he wasn't impressed with that. He simply had a smile on his face, because he believes in winning at all costs. Hmmm...we are working on this one!

Adoption/birth stories

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Adam: I'll start with Adam, because he was the first child to join our family, and even though he wasn't adopted, his being with us is truly a miracle. David and I were married in 1995. The following summer, I found out that I was pregnant. We were very excited, but unfortunately, that pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. After that, we tried for another pregnancy for about a year and a half. We saw a fertility specialist one time, and shortly after that I was pregnant again (with no intervention from the specialist). Adam's was a textbook pregnancy. I was perfectly healthy, as was Adam. We took Bradley birth classes and had Adam completely naturally. I was very into breastfeeding and he nursed for a very long time (I won't mention here how long, so I don't shock anyone!).

Now, this doesn't sound too miraculous, until I mention that I had two miscarriages following my pregnancy with Adam (one of them was twins). Also, this past year I finally found out why I have had so many problems with my cycle, problems conceiving and problems carrying a pregnancy to full term. I have severe endometriosis and also had polyps. I had to have an ovary removed last year, as well as the polyps. The fact that my pregnancy with Adam was perfect was a complete miracle. Often, our children talk about the four other brothers and sisters that they will have in heaven. I cannot wait to meet them! But I am also glad that we get to know Adam this side of heaven.

Lily: We began researching adoption intently after my second miscarriage. We had always been interested in adoption. We weren't looking into adoption only because of the miscarriages, but they were an impetus for setting things in motion. We knew that we wanted to adopt from China, because we both had good friends who were Chinese and we knew about the plight of the little girls there. We simply called agencies and decided on the closest agency to where we lived. Then began the paperwork (that wasn't too bad, because AAC does the dossier preparation). Then, as our paperwork was almost ready to send to China I found out that I was pregnant! We got a lot of advice to stop the adoption, but I knew in my heart that our Lily was waiting for us in China. She seemed a very part of me and there was no way that we could think of not adopting her.

Well, it was very difficult thinking of having two babies at once, so I experienced some stress over that. But, then I had real peace from God. On September 20, 2000, I wrote in my journal, "And now there is JOY!" Little did I know that on that day, Lily was born in China, and her Chinese name would be Joy!!!

A couple of weeks later I had my third miscarriage at 18 weeks. This was devastating, especially as we found out that I had been pregnant with twins and one of the little ones had died earlier in the pregnancy. But, after the grieving, we were even more ready to bring Lily home. Unfortunately, the wait was really long. We finally got her referral picture in July of 2007 and were absolutely thrilled! We traveled to China a month later with Adam and my mom. It was an incredible trip and we were absolutely in love with our little girl. She was, and still is, a treasure beyond compare.

One more thing about Lily. The one thing that we consistently prayed for Lily while we were waiting to get her was that she would be held and loved. Well, about a year after we got home we met Katie who had lived in China, teaching English. She had organized a number of student volunteers who daily went to Lily's orphanage to hold the babies! How is that for answered prayer!

Jadon: After we had been home with Lily for about nine months, we felt that God was leading us back to China. We found out about special needs adoptions and decided that was the route to go. At the time, there was a quota for traditional adoptions in China, but all special needs adoptions were allowed outside the quota. We used a different agency because AAC was not doing special needs adoptions yet. We were matched with a 3 year old boy, whom we adored and were going to name Luke. But, about a month later we found out that the CCAA had accidentally sent his file to two agencies and another family was already planning on adopting him.

This was quite a blow and we weren't sure what to do. We decided to ask the CCAA to match us with a baby. The agency rep. called a couple of days later and told us about a little boy with cleft lip and palate. He was 19 months old, which meant he was 6 months younger than Lily. We weren't sure what to do. We asked for more time, but a couple of days later the agency rep. called again and said that they had a 9 month old baby boy for us. We asked to have her send the file. She said that she would send both files. David and I discussed this and decided to delete the older boy's file before looking at it. But guess what?! We accidentally (wink, wink) opened up the wrong file! And when we saw this little boy's big brown eyes and sad face, we were sure that he was our son. We also knew that it would be easier for the 9 month old to find a family, so we committed to the older boy.

So, then we waited some more. And finally, we went to China to get our little Jadon. Adam and Lily stayed home with my mom, which was really hard on Lily, but it did give us some time to bond with Jadon. Right away, we knew he was all boy, yet also very affectionate. He fell asleep while David was holding him the first night.

The adjustment for Lily and Jadon was rough, but as I write this they are out in the back yard playing on a pile of mulch together and having a funeral for a dead bird (oh boy, how many funerals did I have for dead birds when I was a kid?). They are very often best buddies and want to sit next to each other at dinner and have quiet times together, etc. Adam loved Jadon right away, as he has loved every child that he meets. All three of them got along really well, but now Lily was praying for a sister, and so....

Yana: We prayed for two years for a sister for Lily. These were rough years, as I was sure that God was calling us to adopt again, but I didn't trust God to work out the details. But, eventually, He made His will very clear and we met Yana. She had been adopted from Ukraine by a neighbor who was having a very hard time. They had only been home for a few days when she came by for help. We tried to help her keep Yana, doing everything that we knew to do, but eventually the neighbor told us that she couldn't keep her. We told her that we loved Yana and would like to adopt her.

Yana came to live with us right away and then we moved into a 900 sq. ft. apartment so that Yana and her first adoptive mom would not have to see each other all the time. It ended up being a great thing, as it really helped with bonding. Yana had some issues to work through, but she was very resilient and LOVED having a dad. Though we never planned on adopting a 7 year old, it worked out great, as now we had two older kids and two younger ones. It was fun for Adam to have someone closer to his age and abilities. We could never have planned it so well.

So, Yana ended up being our surprise child, and she was literally delivered to our doorstep. No one but God could have worked this out! And not surprising, Yana had been in the orphanage for two years (the same amount of time that I had been praying!). God had things planned all along.

Grace: And now for Grace. You can read about our journey to Grace in our first post of this blog. And I can't wait to know and to write about the rest of the story....

Little Miss Sophia

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

My good friend, Linda, her husband, Robert, and their daughter, Anna, are in China now. They just sent a picture of their new daughter, Sophia, and she is beautiful! Congratulations to the whole family.

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