Sunday, December 18, 2011

This One Little Picture…

was responsible for my complete downfall.Dang Qiao 2011-10-21 - Copy

To understand why, you need to understand some history. So here goes:

When we applied to adopt Molly in 2005, the wait for referral was six months. Six months. It had been pretty steady for a while. Turn in your dossier and six months later, referral.

Our dossier for Molly’s adoption was logged in with China on September 29, 2005. We were expecting to receive a referral in March or April of 2006. But something went wrong.

The exact month our dossier was logged in, China began it’s referral slow down. Except at the time, we didn’t know it was part of a major shift in China adoption. At the time it looked like a little glitch and things would soon turn around.

But it didn’t. It got worse.

With every new month came more bad news, and the wait continued to grow. Every new month, I allowed myself to be filled with hope and then suffered the disappointment. I wanted to be a mother so badly. My soul was so invested in the adoption process. My heart ached each and every day for the daughter who seemed to be getting farther and farther away.

The wait changed me. It made me not trust. It made me not believe. It made me scared and hurt and hopeless. I cried almost daily. At least that’s the way it seemed. Everyday for the next sixteen months I sat and hurt for my daughter and for myself. I thought about her constantly. Longed to hold her. Ached to be her mother. It was awful.

Finally in January 2007, we received Molly’s referral and joy was allowed to creep back in. The joy surrounding Molly was instantaneous. I loved her madly. But the joy in the rest of my life was slow to return. It took a long time to trust again, to believe again, to allow me to invest my heart again.

When we decided to adopt a second child, I went into the process with my whole heart. That’s the person that I am.

I remember the day we got our referral. Tony was out of town on business. I had to email him all of the pictures and information about our son. We talked on the phone for hours about all of the details in his file. But details didn’t matter. I was so head over heels in love with this little boy from the first time I saw this picture:Dang Qiao 4

For the next several nights I went to sleep with my laptop right next to the bed. Every time that I would wake up I would wiggle the mouse and that beautiful little face would appear on the screen.

I carried his pictures around with me and kissed his little face millions of times. I shared the joyous news with my family friends. I couldn’t wait for the day that he joined our family. We prayed for Baby Brother and talked about what life would be like when Baby Brother arrived.

But as much as I loved my new child, I had to find a way to detach myself from the process of waiting. That awful time between knowing you have a child and the time when he is placed in your arms can be very, very hard. And sometimes dark. And I knew that I couldn’t go there again.

I worked at trying to disengage from the pain of waiting. I focused on the joy of my boy’s soul and not the moments, days, weeks, and months that he wasn’t with me.

With Molly, I counted everyday, every step in the process. I obsessed over every bit of news and pinned my hopes on every prediction.

This time I forced myself to think about the future with our son, not the present when we were without him. I didn’t count days, or steps in the process. I didn’t post about my paper chase or reaching every little milestone. I didn’t stay up at night obsessing if my I-800 had reached the lockbox or if getting my fingerprints done early would speed the process.

I just kept looking forward to the day that my son would be placed in my arms.

I hope that I did not appear uncaring because I did not post about the process. I care very deeply. He is my child and has been since the day I opened his picture and saw his beautiful eyes. I love him as I love Molly. He is my child and I would lay down my life to save his.

But in order survive, I had to draw lines. I had to push the painful piece, the process of adoption,  away. I couldn’t focus on it because it was just a daily reminder that he was so far away.

My looking forward strategy worked for a long while. But then China sent this:Dang Qiao 2011-10-21 - CopyAnd it was responsible for my complete downfall.

I received other pictures of my son from time to time, but they didn’t have the same effect as this one.

This one came between Letter of Acceptance and Travel Approval, and for some reason as soon as I laid eyes on it, I began to cry. Oh, how I ached to hold my boy. How I longed to kiss face, smell him, touch his skin, feel his weight.

Ever since I received this picture, I have experienced every single feeling that I had to keep in check in order to survive the wait.

Now all I can think (okay, obsess) about it going to China and getting my son. Getting Sam.

In 8 days I will do just that. The time is so near.

Please pray for Sam. Although my journey to him is going to be a joyful one, his journey to me will be more difficult. He is leaving a foster family that he has been living with and loving with for two years. He is losing the way of life to which he has grown accustomed. He is losing his country.

He might be experiencing all of these changes for a very good reason, but he doesn’t know that yet. To him these are huge loses with no clear picture of what is to come. He will need every prayer and the hand of God to guide him on his journey.

I hope that you will join me on my journey to get Sam in China. Blogger is blocked in China so I will be setting up a website that I can post to during the trip. In the next few days I will post the web address here, but I have to get the website set up first!

And just because he is so darn cute, here’s my son Sam one more time! Dang Qiao 2011-10-21 - Copy

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Molly Parties ‘Til the Cows Come Home

And apparently cows don’t come home until really, really late.

Last Saturday, Molly attended not one, but two Holiday Parties. She was beyond excited and said, “Mom, this is the best day ever! Two parties in the same day. Can you believe it, Mom? I can’t believe it. Two Parties! Wow!”

Yeah, I’d say she was excited.

Party Number One was hosted by our Family With Children From China Group. We love our group so much that we just can’t break ties with them even though they are now two hours away.

Molly is not usually too hip on 4 hour round-trip car rides, but for this party she eagerly made the exception. I didn’t hear one “Are we there yet?” going either direction.

The party was nonstop fun for Molly. She disappeared as soon as we entered the door. There were old friends to see like….


and Avery!IMG_6966

There was also a very special guest: Grace Lin, author of Chinese themed children's books, of which we already own several.IMG_6967That didn’t stop me from buying a few more and having them autographed. How cool!

The girls played, played, played in their fancy dresses and then took a break to consume a plate full of doughnut holes.IMG_6968This picture cracks me up because all three girls have a doughnut hole in their cheek. They’re trying to smile like nothing is out of the ordinary.

After getting a proper sugar buzz on, there were crafts.IMG_6969

And more time with friends. Oh how I love these girlies!IMG_6971

But the highlight of the party was the arrival of Santa.

My friends and I were creative. Okay, we were sneaky. And cunning.  We snuck casually walked from the back of the room to the front of the room and positioned ourselves near the stage. Then, while nobody was watching or paying attention, we started the line for Santa. 

Oh yes we did.

No long lines and cranky kids for us!

So anyway, Molly was the second kid to talk to Santa. He was fresh, patient, and listened to every.single.thing. that was on Molly’s list. IMG_6974

And apparently her list was long, because she was talking to him for a long time.IMG_6981

Finally she was done, the two of them looked up so I could snap the Santa Picture. IMG_6978And I didn’t even have to go to the mall this year. Score!

Soon after Molly’s chat with Santa, it was time to get back in the car and head home because it was time for party number 2!

Party #2 was a special party hosted by my friend Susanne, Max’s mom.

The party started out with the reading of a Christmas story by the mother of another guest. She’s a former school teacher and a great storyteller. She had the kids entranced.IMG_6985IMG_6986Soon after the story, a very special guest arrived……

St. Nicholas!!!!IMG_6987St Nicholas came in and sat down with the kids. Then he talked to each child individually. He told each one of them what he/she did this year that made him proud. Each child had their very own list of personalized compliments from St. Nick.

He was proud of Molly for handling all of the changes in her life this year with such grace. New house, new school, new friends, baby brother on the way. He was also proud that she was learning to read, write, add and subtract.  IMG_6989After recognizing each child, he called them up and each received chocolates, IMG_6992a very special gift,IMG_6993and a hug.IMG_6994

Then St. Nick left the way he came.IMG_6996It was an amazing experience. The kids were mesmerized. I don’t remember any parties like this when I was young!

After St. Nick’s departure, the kids opened their gifts. IMG_6997

Molly got a puzzle. How did St. Nicholas know that Molly LOVES puzzles?IMG_6998

Next was a yummy dinner for the kids: Chicken nuggets, tater tots and watermelon. Doesn’t get any better than that, if you’re 5.IMG_6999The kids finished up and retired to the family room to watch Rudolph, while to grownups ate dinner. It suffices to say that our dinner was a bit more extravagant and delicious than nuggets and tots.

Just sayin’.

It was actually so yummy that I was too busy eating to take pictures.

When the evening ended Molly had been partying for 12 straight hours.

And told me again that this was the best day ever!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December 1 = 1st Day of the Advent Calendar!

And Molly had been waiting not so patiently for the day to arrive. Here she is poking her head through the upstairs railing confirming the date before she is even out of her PJ’s.IMG_6879(Note to self: babyproof the upstairs railing before baby actual arrives…yikes!)

This year Molly actually has two advent calendars. The first one is the Advent Village which is around the base of the tree in the picture. We’ve had this one for several years and it definitely one of Molly’s favorite Christmas traditions.

Each day Molly opens a numbered door on a village house to reveal her surprise. It is my job to come up with clever little gifts for each day. For 24 days. That’s a whole lot of being clever. Just sayin’.IMG_6880

The new calendar for this year was given to Molly by her friend Max (pictured above). Max’s mom is from Germany, and she got a traditional German Advent Calendar for Molly. This one has a festive holiday scene. Little doors open each day to reveal a piece of chocolate.IMG_6881

See, here’s Molly with her first little chocolate. This makes her so happy. Seriously. IMG_6882

Max’s mom also gave us a bag of traditional German gingerbread men. Did I mention that their little gingerbread backs are covered in dark chocolate. Yummy! These also make Molly happy!IMG_6883

And finally there is the village. Here Molly is opening door #1IMG_6897

I have to leave notes on days that my clever surprise is too big to fit inside the little village door. The fun part for me this year is that Molly can actually read the notes all by herself. Oh yes she can!IMG_6899

Day #1 yielded this table top tree with lights for Molly’s room. She was thrilled!IMG_6900

Day #2 a tree skirt for the little tree. Molly was actually more thrilled than she looks in this picture.IMG_6955

Day #3: An ornament for the table top tree. IMG_7001Are you picking up on the theme here? Yes, clever little me came up with the Christmas tree theme for the Advent Calendar. You know, the tree, the tree skirt, a star, and a new decoration each day. I have it all planned out. My clever tree decorating advent adventure will last us the entire 24 days. Woo Hoo! Did I mention how clever I was?

Day #4 Another ornament. Look how happy she is!IMG_7003Molly genuinely thanked me with a kiss and a hug and then dropped this little bombshell on my Christmas Parade. She said, “Thanks for the decorations, Mom, but I made a bunch of my own and don’t need anymore. My tree is full. I hope you’re not going to keep giving me more.”

So much for being clever.

What the heck am I supposed to do with the other 19 tiny table top tree ornaments that I bought?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Star Is Born

Last week Molly was the Star Student of her Kindergarten class. Oh my, was she excited!

She came home with her blank poster and couldn’t wait to get it filled out. She told me about all of the special things that she would get to do with her new role. And each day she would get off of the bus just about ready to burst. She couldn’t wait to tell me all about her day as “the star.” IMG_6873

Here’s the close up of her poster:IMG_6868I loved that she wanted to put a photo of Baby Brother in her family picture.

I was thrilled that she got her special week to shine at school, but I hope she realizes that she is, and always will be my little  star!


Because two pictures are just not enough to make up a blog post, here are a few more random shots from the week.

Molly always returns from school ravenous. I feed her as soon as she walks into the door or we have the whole Jeckel/Hyde transformation thing going on. Here’s my goofy girl eating yogurt pretzels. Leave it to Molly to turn food into a fashion accessory.IMG_6865

Molly started Daisy Scouts. Here she is modeling her Daisy Tunic. I can’t believe they start so young. They even earn badges and sell cookies (read: have parents hound ask friends and family to buy cookies).IMG_6877

Molly’s new favorite pastime. We spend all that money on toys and games and this is what she choses to do instead. IMG_6878She can spend an hour climbing up the door frame, dropping down, climbing back up, dropping down. Seriously, an hour. And she wants to to watch each and every attempt. Oh well, at least it keeps me from having to play Candyland (the world’s most mind-numbing game) with her!

Climb on sister!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Super Sleuth Birthday Party

Avery, Molly’s dear, sweet little friend, turned seven. Wow, seven!

Avery’s party is always a reality check for me. She’s a little over a year older than Molly. Attending Avery’s party each year is always a little smack in the face for me. A smack that I need.

You see, it happens the same way each year. I go. I say, “Yikes, she is old.” And slowly over the next year I accept that Molly will turn that age, too.

I’m glad that Avery is Molly’s friend for a number of reasons, but having her gently ease me into the inevitable reality that my daughter will grow up  is definitely a benefit.IMG_6932

This year, Avery had a party at the science museum. The kids got to be super sleuths for the day. The adventure started out with a little lesson on fingerprints. Then all the kids had their own fingerprints taken.IMG_6928

Later in the party they were asked to hold drinking glasses. This left greasy little fingerprints all over the glasses. The kids got to use their own fingerprint dusting kits to lift the fingerprints off of the glass. How cool is that?

That wasn't even the highlight of the party. No, the highlight was making the ice cream.

Avery poured all of the ingredients into a bowl and stirred. IMG_6937

Then liquid nitrogen was added and, voila, instant--and I do meant instant—ice cream!IMG_6938

The kids all thought this was exceptionally cool. No pun intended!IMG_6940

Molly loves her some ice cream!IMG_6941

Of course there was the traditional Happy Birthday song.IMG_6943

And good friends to hang out with while waiting for the sugar to arrive.IMG_6944IMG_6945

But seriously, it was all about the ice cream.IMG_6947

And maybe the cake. But definitely the ice cream.IMG_6948

The party ended with gifts. Here’s Avery opening the present from Molly.IMG_6950Luckily Molly’s was the first or second gift opened. Shortly after that, Avery was surrounded by kids, all needing to get a closer look. It’s a kids party tradition.

Happy Birthday Avery. Have a great year being seven.

And thanks for helping me face reality.