Friday, August 1, 2014

part two

Darn blogger.  Having the hardest time loading photos.  So just text today.

I have tried to post about our day visiting the LWB Healing Homes, Mei Li's home orphanage, and our lunch with her foster family, but the photos won't load I'm having all kinds of difficulty, so I will keep trying.

In the meantime, we finally made it to Guangzhou!!!  After boarding our plane, they closed the doors and we sat at the gate for two and a half hours.  Can you say DELAY???  The kids were great, but poor Mei Li was so excited to fly up in the air to Guangzhou and she must have been wondering what the heck was going on.

When we landed she started yelling at the top of her lungs, "MAMA!!!!  GUANGZHOU!!!!"  "BABA!!!!! GUANGZHOU!!!!!"  The people around us were chuckling and we took such delight in watching her enjoy her first plane ride.

I need to go to sleep because we have a full day tomorrow but I wanted to give a quick update on how Mei Li is doing.

She has made great progress in four days.  We discovered that she was used to drinking Coke at every meal, eating lots of chocolate treats, and even acted surprised when we didn't hand her her own coffee at Starbucks.  After all the caffeine left her system and she realized the horrible reality that Sweeney kids don't drink soda, she turned into a different child.  She was less jumpy and aggressive and seemed calmer overall.

Her foster parents sure loved her.  I would always rather a child without a forever family be indulged over neglected, but she will definitely have some adjusting to do in regards to her diet.

Secondly, she is a little-miss-bossy-pants.  She likes to tell us all what to do and we call her "in octopus mode" when she wants something like a iPad or a television remote.  Her determination to get her hands on these things is unbelievable.  We have come a long way in just a few days helping her "look at Mama/Baba's eyes" and reinforcing that "Mama/Baba is in charge."  She has realized that saying please and thank you get her much more of what she wants.

And that's a start.

She had some behavior yesterday that required us to put her in a "time in" in the chair in our hotel room so that she could get some control over her octopus arms and demanding behavior.  This was a totally foreign concept to her and she did NOT like it one bit.  She got out of the chair about 58 times and I just kept putting her back on it (she is really heavy) until finally she realized that the only way off the chair was Mama's way.  I stayed close by and didn't draw it out too long, but she is starting to get the hang of things.

I don't mean to make it sound all bad.  She is funny and affectionate and seems to have been well prepared for her adoption journey.  She knows we are staying several days in Guangzhou before we go to America where she can finally meet her "Mei Mei" (little sister).  I'm glad we have two weeks left of summer vacation and then dive right into school.  She is SO smart - both of our guides have mentioned that she is way smarter than other six year olds.  She seems to have a photographic memory.  Tonight she told us that she is going to study hard and then go to Beijing University (China's Harvard) so that she can get a good job.

Alrighty then.

Not to sound arrogant at all, but I think a lot about her disrupted adoption last year.  From what I know about the family, they did not have experience parenting a child her age.  Kenyon and I both agree that if we had not already parented a variety of six year olds, we would definitely be in over our heads.  She has a very strong personality, but we see great potential and are enjoying the bright ray of sunshine that she will bring to our family.

As we get to know her more, we know it will only get better.  This morning after she woke up, she immediately hopped into bed between the two of us for an unexpected little snuggle.  She loves to be tickled.  I think the structure of school will be great for her.  I don't know when her grief will hit her, but I know it hasn't fully registered with her yet.  She still thinks this is a big fat vacation (except for the no Coke part) and I'm under no illusions. This will get harder before it gets easier.

That's all I have for tonight.  Oh, except our guide here said the visa situation is all resolved so expects us to have no problems and leave on Thursday.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

gotcha

The day we had been waiting so long for arrived yesterday.

We crashed into bed after our long day of traveling and slept like three rocks through the night.  Our body clocks woke us early and we enjoyed a full breakfast buffet at our hotel.

Our guide Ting Ting picked us up at 9:30 a.m. and our private van drove us to the civil affairs office where our daughter to-be was to arrive shortly after us.

Our last update several months ago was that Megan had no interest in being adopted.  Who could blame her?  She had been placed with her foster family when she was nine months old and the world revolved around her in that home.  Fifteen months ago she endured a disrupted adoption when the family that came to China to adopt her changed their minds after spending 24 hours with her.

That would leave anyone skeptical about being adopted, much less a six year old.

Baba waiting
We only stood in the smoke filled office for about ten minutes, checking that both our documents and our cameras were ready for her arrival.  We prepped Andrew for the fact that Megan would not be happy about leaving everything she knows and loves in order to join our family.  The best example we could give our children is to try to imagine sending Lucas to live with a Chinese family if all he has ever known is to be with us.






Showing pictures of her other brothers and sister

Immediately obsessed with screens

The sillies

International language of bananas



Without notice or drama, she came walking into the office with the assistant director of her home orphanage.  She quickly pointed to each of us and recognized us by name "Mama" "Baba" and "Guh-Guh" (brother).  She was happy and affectionate and fully informed.

Andrew was an awesome helper and quickly engaged her in the international language of silliness.  We signed papers, took a picture, and we were out of there.  Ting Ting took us back to the hotel and on the way we learned that Megan has never been swimming before and we went over a few sign language signals so that she could communicate if she was hungry, thirsty, sleepy, or had to use the bathroom.

We got back to our room and got changed to go give the hotel pool a try.  She is bigger than I thought she would be.  She is definitely a 6/7 in size, and I brought a lot of size fives.  She is SOLID and weighs a few pounds shy of Andrew, who is nine years old.  Her hair is really thick and I can't wait for it to grow out from the summer shave she received last month.  There is no styling it or even keeping any bows or clips in it.

Her personality is as we expected.  She is active, talkative, and we can tell that she has rarely been told "no" to this point.  She told us that she brought some snacks for us, which was a small case of Kit-Kat type of candy bars.  She gave us a lecture in Mandarin when later on in the night she wanted more and more but we had put them up out of reach.

She is OBSESSED with screens.  Any time we take out our phone or iPad, her little hands are like magnets and it has been hard to reel her in to a normal level.  I'm ready to lock any and all screens into our safe when we get home.  Can you say detox?

As far as her adoption disruption, after a quick trip through Walmart to buy some pool floaties for her and some snacks, we can see how parents inexperienced with her age and adoption could quickly feel overwhelmed.  She was all over the place, bossing, touching, running all over the place and not listening to the amateur Mandarin we were spouting off at her.  "Firm and loving" is going to be our theme for this girl.

Many people have asked me about her medical need because it isn't obvious from her photos.  We suspect that she has Fibular Hemimelia, but will wait for an official diagnosis when we get her to the orthopedic specialists at our Children's Hospital when we get home.  She has a "lucky fin" of a left foot, and her left leg is shorter than her right.

She did great in the swimming pool for it being her first time and not knowing us or having any reason to trust us.  My man and I, however, had a new experience of seeing each other in required swim caps for 100RMB.  It was quite a sight.

We took a taxi to a noodle restaurant that other adoptive families had told us about and Megan chatted with the waiter about her preferences for dinner and we all enjoyed her choices.  Andrew was hit by the onslaught of jet lag and nearly fell asleep at the table.

Mom with chopsticks, daughter with fork
After a long and dramatic process of trying to get a cab home, we finally made it and got our pj's on (too small again), brushed teeth (spitting out the toothpaste was new to her), and got settled into bed after our big happy day.

And then came the tears.  With no notice, Megan just started sobbing and sobbing, harder and harder into her pillow and under her covers.  Our hearts broke and we tried to comfort her.  I planned to just stay and rub her back until she cried herself to sleep, but she suddenly turned over and (I thought she might hit me) gently pushed me with both hands and firmly told me in Mandarin that she wanted me to leave her alone.

I understood.  I climbed into my bed just a foot away from her and listened to her cry until she had no more tears to shed.

As I thought about it, I was glad to see some real and normal emotion out of her.  If she left her family of over six years and didn't look back, I would be more concerned and wonder about her attachment and grief.

We woke up on our first morning together to a happy girl that is always looking for guh-guh.  We signed official adoption documents (first 24 hours is simply guardianship) today and then she responded to our guide's question about her desire to visit China again someday, "When I am older like Mama I can drive the car back to visit China."

Kinda like that....

Random thoughts to close with:


  • She is super smart.  She immediately learned what floor we are staying on and could watch and tell which elevator would get to us first based on what floor and direction they reported.  She even remembered what floor the adoption office was on at the Civil Affairs building.  She can tell when we are blocks away from our hotel.



  • She knows her brothers and sister by name and right away wanted to know where her sister was.  They got to meet on FaceTime today and both seemed tickled to meet each other.



  • Yesterday afternoon my man and I both struggled with the very normal emotions of "what have we done to our family?" panic.  I have felt this way when every child has been added to our family.  I grieve for the stability of the status quo, but our wise adoption mentors warned us that this would happen and it is normal.  By day two, we already feel it disappearing.



  • Megan Mei Li has an absolutely contagious laugh.  It is unique and like nothing we have heard before.  When she laughs, we all laugh.



  • We are confident that we will have to get in touch with our "Inner Purvis" to help her adjust to her new family and life.



  • We are praying for a mild diagnosis on her leg and that school will help her thrive with more structure and stability in her life.



  • We don't know her fully yet, but we love her and are in awe of how God brought us to her.



Sunday, July 27, 2014

arrived

Good morning from the other side of the world!  After many, many hours of traveling and connecting flight to flight, we made it to Hefei, Anhui.

We were thrilled to find our guide Ting Ting waiting for us as we exited baggage claim.  She is a delightful young woman and I can tell already that we will get along great.  She had our private van and driver waiting to take us to our hotel in this city of well over seven million people.  Yes, it very much feels like New York City.

Ting Ting sat in the passenger section of the van with us as we were driven through the city.  She had a very exciting update to give us about our daughter.  She found herself in Megan Mei Li's town just the day before by "coincidence" (not) as she guided another foreign family on a tour of Huainan.  She knew we were arriving, so she took the time to meet Megan's foster family, and interview Megan about her feelings toward being adopted by an American family.

All along, we have been expecting a very ticked off six year old that doesn't want anything to do with us.  Megan Mei Li has been with her foster family since she was nine months old.  She has also endured a disrupted adoption just 16 months ago.  She has every reason to want to stay where it is safe and she knows love.

Our number one prayer for the last several months (other than the #loavesandfishes) has been for Megan Mei Li's adjustment.  We asked that God would go before us and prepare her heart for the transition into our family.

We are grateful that He did that partially through Ting Ting.

She had a great report for us.  Megan Mei Li guided Ting Ting through her red family photo album that we sent to her months ago.  She bragged to Ting Ting as she pointed out, "This is my Mama.  This is my Baba.  I have brothers!  I have a sister!"  She seemed to be very excited about having a sister (although we know her brothers are going to be way more fun for her at this stage).

We took a huge sigh of relief and fought off some tears of gratitude as we heard the story of Ting Ting's visit and looked at the 20+ pictures she took of Megan Mei Li's home and foster family.  We never expected such wonderful news.

The one piece of bad news Ting Ting had for us is that the orphanage director told the foster mother that she must not come to the hand off today.  It was explained that they don't want Megan Mei Li to be upset by saying goodbye to her foster mother.  We disagree and are still praying that we might be surprised to find her there.  I really wanted to sit down and talk with her foster mom and give the matching lockets to them at the same time.

At least Ting Ting thought to get all of the phone and email information for the foster family so that we can Skype and stay in touch.

So, it is nearing six a.m. here in Hefei.  Andrew was a complete trooper through our 22 hours of travel and we are so glad he is here with us.  He is the only one still sound asleep in our room as my Beloved and I are awake and anxious for the day ahead (and maybe some breakfast).

We miss the rest of our crew but with full cell service (thank you T-Mobile), we have been texting and hear that they are all doing well.  Next post will be later today after our "Gotcha!"

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

#loavesandfishes

The Friday before Father’s Day I found myself in a quick phone call with my college roommate who I don’t get to talk to often enough these days.  She dove right into asking questions about our adoption process and how close we were to getting to be able to travel and pick up our daughter.

I confided in her my honest feelings, as always, and didn’t hold back that I had a mental wall about how this adoption was going to end.  Although we had paid thousands of dollars in fees along the way, I knew the end was not pretty.  A few days earlier, I had totaled our remaining dues ($7,400+) and imagined our travel costs (airline, hotel, food, etc.), and saw that our adoption envelope had just over $9,200 in it.  We had been consistently living below our means and sweeping money into the adoption envelope, but it clearly wasn’t enough.

My husband and I had touched on the topic in a brief alone moment a week before that.  I didn’t have an answer, neither did my Beloved – there were no more extra funds coming in.  We agreed to just pray about it.

To be honest, my faith was shallow.  I was approaching it as if I needed to come up with a great idea, or succumb to the truth that we were going to have to borrow money to complete our adoption.

Meanwhile, I bravely decided to put my head in the sand and not think about it at all.

After telling Carrie all of this in a much more “blunt-because-you-know-me-so-well” fashion, she immediately turned it around and said that she had been in a Bible study recently and felt like she needed to share what she learned with me….

“Laurie, our God is the God of loaves and fishes.  You don’t know how this story will end, but HE DOES.  You need to turn to Him and commit to Him what you have.  He will provide.”

I’ve been a Christian for a long time, so I’d like to say that she brought me out of the pit and I saw the light.  I know that the Word of God is truth, but I will be honest and say that I felt good for about 90 seconds and then I went back to hiding my head in the sand, sending up some SOS prayers, and ignoring that nagging nervous feeling of helplessness.

The next morning, I was drinking my coffee and scrolling through my Facebook feed when and I jumped over to read this wonderful post written by an adoptive dad (Father’s Day weekend, remember?).  I enjoyed the fact that he made decisions a lot like my husband does and took comfort in his personal experience of not knowing how his adoptions were going be able to work out.

But then he ended his post with this from Mark chapter six:  35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. 36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”
37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”
38 “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”…
41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.

I immediately went to my Beloved and told him that I had no idea what was going on, but I got the sense that we needed to incorporate the idea of loaves and fishes into our prayers about Megan’s adoption.  He agreed and that was that.

My mom and I spoke on the phone while she was staying with my brother helping his family as they welcomed their fourth sweet baby into their family.  She happened to mention that my sister in-law donated a bunch of items to an adoption fundraiser yard sale that wound up raising about $3,000.  I told her briefly of our dilemma (head out of the sand just to peek at the bright light for a moment), and she suggested that I think about hosting a yard sale myself.

Honestly, $3,000 wasn’t going to solve our problem, and we were seriously considering me traveling alone to adopt Megan.  That would be like Kenyon missing the birth of his child.  I really wanted to bring one of the older boys to help her adjustment as well - but that wasn't going to happen from this point of view.

With time running out, I went back into my mental hiding.

Sunday night is family dinner night at our house and my non-biological sisters who live close by come for dinner every week.  Unprompted, that Sunday night one of my sisters brought me two boxes of clothes, shoes, and accessories and told me to take what I wanted and pass the rest along.  I put them in the garage and thought nothing of it.

Monday morning arrives.

Monday through Friday my Beloved (the morning person) gets up at zero-dark-thirty and runs five miles.  He then comes back, gets showered and dressed, and brings me (NOT the morning person OR a runner) a delightful mug of coffee to wake me from my dreamy slumber so that we can talk for a few minutes before he leaves for his long work day.

I rolled over and cracked an eyelid that Monday morning and saw my coffee on my nightstand, but my Beloved was nowhere to be seen.

The house was quiet.

I was alone.

I reached for my coffee AND my Bible.  It had been too many days and I was feeling a little desperate.

The reading plan
When I read my Bible, generally I follow a 10 chapter per day reading plan that was popular a while back.  I keep a chart in the back of my Bible and always just pick up where I left off.  The 10 chapters take me all over the Bible and I really like the variety.

I would love to say it had only been a few days since I my last quiet reading.  I would like to say it had been several days.  But I’m being honest here – it had been MANY days.  It is summer vacation.  Five kids are home with me.  Days are long and I have little to no alone time that overlaps with any valuable brain cells.

I looked to my chart and just dug in…..

But I nearly dropped my Bible on the floor after the first few sentences of the first chapter.

It couldn’t be.

What?

I quickly realized that my 10 chapter reading plan that I could have been reading two weeks ago or two weeks from now had me starting at John chapter six.

“Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand”

I read it through, all the while feeling the humility that the God of creation gave me the gift of knowing He was right there with me (even with my head in the sand).  

The God who put the stars in place and knitted me in my mother’s womb chose to encourage me by these three linked messages inside of a long weekend.

He knows the end.

John 6:5  When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

After allowing myself to soak up the story, I texted my husband (and Carrie) to tell him of my reading that morning.  I then asked him how he would feel about putting my full effort behind a yard sale where we could accept donated items and hope for a big turnout to fill the gap.

He agreed.

John 6:8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

I had two boxes of donated items and some random things around the house.  Not nearly enough for a sale myself, but that day I decided on a date and put out the word of our plan.

I fasted in honor of what God was about to do in our lives.  I don’t fast very much, but it made me realize how much more I need to pray.

Friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers brought donations – both small and large.  We had clothes, shoes, household items, toys, furniture, appliances – you name it and it was arriving almost daily.

Several people had their own yard sales and then let us come and pick up everything that didn’t sell.  Friends would do this and then convince others (complete strangers to us) to do the same.

Our garage quickly filled up.

My dear friend and mentor came weekly to sort all the clothes and smaller items so that we would have less of a challenge setting up during the sale.

We listed bigger items on our local online classifieds and made nearly $900 before the yard sale weekend even arrived.

Not only that, but my long distance friends started sending checks in lieu of yard sale items.  Generous checks from people that I know for a fact are not loaded with cash.  Envelope after envelope, I would open and tearfully read through a heartfelt note of LOVE for our family and our soon-to-be daughter.

I had lunch one day with a new friend of mine.  She is a season ahead of me in life and I have come to depend on her for wisdom and thoroughly enjoy every moment I have with her.  She and her husband are some of the most generous people I know.

She encouraged me to not only apply for visas for my Beloved and myself, but for one of our older boys as well.  I hesitated because I always want to be a good steward of the money God gives us, but a week later, I sent three applications to the Chinese Consulate in Washington D.C..

Another dear college friend stopped for a couple of days during a long road trip during the week before the yard sale.  She is artistic and has her own experiences with loaves and fishes in her life.  She stayed up until 1 a.m. one night making 20+ poster board signs for our sale.

Somewhere in there, we found out that my husband received a commission check that he didn’t expect (Remember the Excel spreadsheet guy?  He knows every dollar that is due to him, so this could only be God).  With this check and the yard sale, I was starting to get the sense that this was coming together.

I texted the friend who told me to apply for all the visas and she said: “Isn’t that just like God to meet your need?  I wouldn't be surprised if you have some leftover.”

One night, as the big sale drew near, my Beloved got to catch up with a close friend of his.  This friend and his family are a complete gift to us.  We love them genuinely and dearly, but our friendship may not have blossomed if it were not for a terrible tragedy that struck their family.  We have watched God create beauty through ashes and our faith has grown through the process of pain and slow healing.

This friend insisted on paying for one of our plane tickets.

What?  He surely had no idea what he was offering.  Plane tickets are between two and three t.h.o.u.s.a.n.d. dollars.  Give him an easy out.

Nope.  He was fully aware and all.in.

Yard sale weekend arrives.



Our friends and neighbors came to help us manage the inventory and sales.  One friend that I hadn’t seen in years insisted on being with me for the first five hours of day one.  I didn’t realize until late the night before what a gift (and necessity) that was.

I didn’t even ask her.

I was given the opportunity to share our story many times and just felt complete joy and peace that no matter how it turned out, God had this covered.

Day one:  $1,150

Day two: $1,260

End of day two and my dear mentor and I are starting the clean up process.  I went inside to make us a cold drink and returned to help her pack up the clothes for the Big Brothers/Big Sisters truck that was arriving shortly.  We were high-fiving the success of the sale.  My Beloved was off taking down all the signs.

One woman was in the driveway with her two children walking the aisles.  I walked out of the house with two drinks in my hands.  In passing, I thanked them for coming and told her kids to fill a box for $1.

There were no other shoppers.

I handed Pati her drink and the anonymous woman walked up to me.

“Are you Laurie?”

“Yes I am.”

(Shaking my hand) “I’m Lynn.”

Lynn handed me a folded check.

“Lynn, do I know you?”

“No, you do not know me.” (as I’m opening the check)


At this point my tears are falling.  Lynn is walking away from me saying something about having their own adoption story, but it is a complete blur because I can’t believe what just happened.

I follow her, mumbling something about the words thank you seeming inadequate.  I wrap my arms around her.  She hugs me back but seems determined to get to her car.  She doesn’t even call her kids to the car – it’s like magic – they just know to get in.

And she drives away.

I’m still crying and I silently hand Pati the check.  Now she is crying too.  She reminds me not to call my husband because she wants to see his face when he sees the check.

I obey.  We cry.  In shock, we continue to pack up things for the charity pick up.

My husband returns.  I show him the check.  HE CRIES.

That night I returned to the story in John 6.  John 6:12  When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.”

Let nothing be wasted.

My first thought after receiving the $4,000 check and after I returned to my right mind was, “I want to be the one dropping off the check!”

We had not yet booked our tickets, but we already started talking about tracking every single penny through our electronic envelope system.  Any extra will not be wasted.

Donations continued to arrive via postal mail, PayPal, and simply handed to us unexpectedly.  One donation was mailed directly to our agency to reduce our fees still outstanding.  A Noonday party benefitted our adoption costs.  We think we are quite close to covering all of our travel costs with the possibility of having “baskets to gather” after we are through.

We have purchased three round trip airline tickets and a single one-way ticket.  We have booked hotels and reserved a guide and transportation services.  Megan's older brother Andrew will meet her in China and help us convince her that our family is pretty great and we are excited for her to be in it.

We have great plans to help another adoptive family or set up a grant for a specific orphan that needs a family.  Our cup is overflowing.


Off to China we go…..

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

the letters

I agonized over what to say to our new daughter and her dear foster mother (or China mama, as we refer to her).  They had already been put through a disrupted adoption, so they had every reason to be skeptical about us and whether we would really be Megan Mei Li's forever family.

Our letters arrived a couple of weeks prior to the care package and photo book.

This is what I sent:

Dear Foster Mom,

We don’t know each other yet, but we are soon to have one precious person in common.  That person is Rui Chun.  We are hoping to travel sometime in July or August to adopt Rui Chun and I very much hope that you and I are able to meet in person.  We became aware of Rui Chun through Love Without Boundaries and the more we learned about her, the more we felt that she will be a great addition to our active family.  I will write a separate letter to Rui Chun to describe our family and I am mailing a package today with a photo album for her to see who we are.
            I wanted to write to you and express my great gratitude from one mother to another.  I know it is going to be very painful for Rui Chun to be adopted, for both you and Rui Chun.  Words cannot express our great gratitude for the loving care you have showered on Rui Chun for these years of her life.  I want you to know that we will never let her forget you.  You will be a constant thread of conversation in our home and we will encourage her to look at photos and remember her precious time with you.  Additionally, I will be sure to send you periodic updates to let you know how she is doing.  You will always be a mother to her and family to us.
                                                                                    With great thanks,
                                                                        Laurie (Huai Rui Chun’s Adoptive Mom)


And to our dear daughter:
Dear Rui Chun,
            Greetings from your family in America.  We understand that you are called Mei Li, and if you prefer, we will call you that.  We are very excited to meet you this summer.  We are sending you some gifts to share and enjoy with your friends.  We have included a photo album in the package that has some pictures of you when you were little, with your foster mom, and with your friends.  We also put lots of photos of our family so that you can become familiar with who we are.  In addition to Mama and Baba, you will have four older brothers (Brendan -13, Cameron -11, Andrew -9, Lucas -7) and a little sister (Joya -4).  We live in an area with lots of mountains and we like to do lots of outside activities that we are sure you will enjoy as well – even skiing.  There are some pictures of your brothers and sister skiing.  We included a picture of our blue house (we don’t have snow all the time, but there is a lot in the winter), and there is a picture of our table we eat at.  There is also a picture of all of the kids in our car and you can see there is a spot waiting for you.
            We also included some conversation cards on a key ring, because we are sure that you feel a little nervous about understanding each other.  We will do our best!  We are excited to come to you this summer and we send our regards to your wonderful foster family.
                                                                                    Warmly, The Sweeney Family

Thursday, April 24, 2014

she's waiting

Well, the truth is that I really miss my blog.  My time and energy after coming home from China in 2012 were poured into the exhausting task of Joya's adjustment, attachment, and healing (not to mention parenting five children).

Then, I found my life's passion.  I now fit in about 15 hours per week writing and advocating for China's orphans through Love Without Boundaries.

Want to help orphans?  Sponsor a baby at the Anhui Healing Home, where my hours are devoted.

You won't regret it.

Now I need to let a cat out of a bag, or spill some beans, or burst at the seams....

We've been not so public this time, but we are going back to China this summer.  We could not ignore that adoption has changed our entire family.  Our eyes have been opened to the need, the pain, the opportunity to be used by God to love so tangibly.  And we cannot ignore that we have room for one more.

The kids were the first ones to ask when we were going to adopt again.  Then my husband started asking me about it, which is very interesting seeing that I waited on him for years before we adopted the first time.  Now all the men are leading the charge.

They prayed.  He prayed.  I prayed.  We prayed.

I had this feeling in my heart that Joya needed to stay the baby of our family.  Aside from the fact that I'm turning the big 4-0 very soon, I just felt strongly that we should not adopt another baby.  My man and I both feel broken for the children that have waited for a family for too long and are overlooked because they are no longer cute little babies.

We looked at files and prayed about different older children before we even started one step of the actual adoption paper chase.  Not one worked out.  We clearly had the doors close on us and I thought once or twice that we would stay a family of seven.

Then last fall, a child we already knew about came across our paths again.  Her adoption was disrupted (meaning she was chosen but her adoption was never completed) and we were sure that she would be chosen again in no time.  Five months passed and we found out that she still didn't have a family.

We asked lots of questions and were given loads of information about her.  We communicated with people who have met her as well as people who have adopted children of similar age and situation.  We prayed that God would shut the door if she wasn't to be a Sweeney.  With each new piece of information, we could not find where the door even budged and inch.

So here we are, six months later.  We have completed all the paperwork and received a "pre-approval" from the Chinese government.  As soon as tomorrow morning, we could wake up to the official LOA (Letter of Acceptance), which means we are officially matched to her.

And then you may see her face.  But until then......


About Me

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Messy and wonderful perfectly describes my life as a wife and mom of five. I'm passionate about advocating for orphans by telling their stories and encouraging adoption and orphan care. My schedule is messy and wonderful as I am charged with four sons and one daughter. We love living in our little mountain ski town. We do a little camping, a little skiing, a little hunting, and a lot of laughing and loving. Life is dirty and loud around here but we wouldn't want it any other way. Okay, maybe a little less dirty!

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