Wednesday, December 19, 2007

How we came to grow again

Every good story must have a beginning, and so we will start there…

As you know, we returned from China w/ our 4th child, Sage in August of 2006. Going into that adoption, fellow adoptive friends told me, you don’t go to china just once. And I laughed it off and said, you are not married to MY husband, I am thankful to be going once! And 4 is a good number. I was so thankful the Lord had allowed us to go for Sage. In china, other families said, oh we are doing this again. Not me, I felt done, I felt as if I had to soak in every tiny detail because this was it, I may never return.

Once my feet hit the ground back on American soil, I remember saying DONE, I am SO done! About a week after we returned, Mark was traveling a lot, I was dealing w/ horrible jet lag, adjusting to 4 kids, often on my own, DONE!!

Yet then, the jet lag began to fade. And my memories of China were so strong. And this child that God had blessed us w/, proved to be more amazing as each day passed. The miracle of what had happened was so heavy on my heart. God brought us together. His plan was so much more than I ever could have imagined it to be.

And I began to wonder, what if? What if there IS another child out there that is mine? What if, we DID go back? And so I began to pray. Lord, IF you want us to go back, you are going to have to figure this all out.

Mark and I talked about it, and he said NO, are you crazy, we are done! However, if we ever do go back, I would only consider going special needs.

I began to pray, if you want us to go AND if you want us to go special needs, place that burden on my heart. I began to research special needs. I started watching lists. I should say, we had not considered special needs before. Never even thought about it. We felt so strong that our baby was NOT on the lists we just never looked. And we were right, Sage was waiting for us. So I watched lists and thought, so many things are just not really issues. It also helped that we traveled w/ families that went sn (special needs) and we were able to see their wonderful children. Plus my dear friend Kathy had gone sn and was very helpful in showing us how it really was no big deal.

So I began to watch lists from different agencies and Kathy was a huge advocate for these kids. She sent me TONS of pictures and every time I would look and pray and some I did ask for files on just to find out more info. Mark would glance at them and say no, not yet, MAYBE someday. And I was fine w/ that. The whole time I looked I struggled w/, how do you know? How do you look at a list of kids and say, I will take that one? And leave the others behind. And Kathy kept telling me, you will know.

I had joined a group online w/ Childrens House Intl and I was very drawn to the group. They were so sweet and I just LOVED their camadarie. They were all so caring and close and I kept saying, I would be happy to go w/ that agency. So I watched their lists for a while and there were a few on them that I had files for over time, Makenna even swore her sister was on one list. But I still never felt 100% and Mark for sure never did.
I filled out a pre-application for the agency that would give me a chance to look at their lists before they went public. Mark knew I was filling it out, though he was NOT on board yet.

And on Thursday November 8th, I looked into the eyes of my 5th child.

There was no doubt. I looked into those eyes and I knew. THIS is what it felt like to know your child on a list.

That day was just a normal day. We had MOPS that morning and on the way home, the kids yelled, we have a ladybug in our car! Which is ODD, we don’t see a lot of ladybugs and through Sage’s wait we HUNTED for ladybugs, (ladybugs are supposed to be good luck in china adoption!) So the kids all said, maybe we are getting a baby from china!
And I just laughed, not thinking much on it.

We came in and I saw an invitation to this new list w/ the agency. So I began to pray and got the kids busy doing their things. I sat down and before I looked at each picture prayed again, Lord, IF my child is here, let me know. I kept scrolling through thinking quite a few were sweet, maybe? And then I clicked on a name about half way down the list. The picture pulled up and I literally lost my breath. My heart began to beat so fast and my eyes filled up w/ tears. I continued to pray as I read through the report. One of her pictures made me pause, I had no idea what her sn meant, I just knew it was her heart.
I got her file from the agency, which had all the details.

I asked Mark to look at the list, w/ out saying whom I was drawn to. Because in my head I am thinking, wouldn’t it be AMAZING if he looks at her and says, I think that is our daughter? And he looked and said, nope, no one. So, I gently pointed her out and he quickly did some research on her need and said, nope, to big of a deal. I sighed and said, she at least deserves your prayer over this.

I sent her file to a doctor and he gave her a great bill of health. I found out that a good friend of ours who had a daughter from Guatemala adopted when sage was adopted has the exact same heart condition. Interesting. I continue to pray..

Days pass and they ask us to make a decision if we want to “petition” for her. Other families were interested and so we could write a letter stating why we wanted her. I was ready to petition, Mark was not. It was heartbreaking. I felt SO sure God was telling me she was mine. We were not in a good place. Petition day came and went, and no one ended up taking her. I told the agency, of course they did not, God has told me she is mine. They put her on hold for us, while we continued to pray. But we could not agree so I released her for other families to review.

5 weeks later, and we were still at a deadlock, and this baby girl was still sitting on a list. I was shocked she was there. The agency was shocked she was still there. Mark still said no, we were still in a bad place. Every day I asked the Lord to help me submit to my husband and I tried to lay her down at the feet of Jesus. And then something would make me pause and pick her up again. I prayed on my knees begging the Lord to answer one of us so that we would be united. We finally went in to pray with our pastor together. He was wonderful and encouraging and just honest with both of us. We sat the kids down and prayed and talked things over with them. We explained to them that adding another baby would mean sacrifices for all of us. Money, time, etc.. Mark was telling Sawyer how he worries that they won’t be able to play their board games together as much, etc. Sawyer burst into tears and said “Daddy, if that little girl needs us, then we need to go and get her”.

That evening Mark took off to a hotel to spend a night alone with the Lord fasting and praying. I was just so tired. I spent the evening in doubt. Maybe I am wrong, maybe I can’t handle this, maybe I heard wrong … I was praying and the Lord spoke to me. When we were praying about Sage, God placed the verse Hebrews 11:1 on my heart. Mark was saying no, I felt He had told me we had a baby out there. This verse says
Now Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see..
I held on to that promise through the entire wait with Sage. So Mark was gone, I began to pray and felt led to look up to find out what Odessa’s birth verse was. And this is what it is..


All the doubts and worries gone. I believe God had told me this was my daughter from the first time I saw her, and I knew she was going to be. Mark came home the next day and said he felt as if God told him to ask Him for a sign. And our sign was to be that if the family who was currently reviewing her wanted her, then we needed to step back. That we should not let her to go committee for the agency to choose. But if that family did NOT feel she was theirs, then he would believe God wanted us to adopt her. So we called the agency and they said the other family asked if they could have 4 more days to decide! I was SCARED! Of course I knew this was the right way to handle it, it was taking it out of OUR hands and placing her in God’s. However, I am human and for all that time I had believed she was mine, what if they did want her? So Monday came and they had not given an answer. We went to bed that night and I was questioning Mark again, maybe we SHOULD go to committee, but he continued to believe THIS was our sign. Went to bed and dreamed she was in my arms in china. Woke up and thought about the date, 12/18 which was the day she was found in china and brought to the orphanage. I just prayed, Lord, even if I am wrong, if she is NOT to be mine, let her be found again by her family forever TODAY. Let this day forever be a testimony in her little life.
A few hours later, the phone rings and I see it is the agency. My heart stopped and I listened while they were telling me that sometimes these little ones come to teach us a lesson and I am thinking, they want her, we are not getting her. Yet then the amazing words, SHE IS YOURS!!!! And I have no idea what she said to me after that, I was speechless! (which is rare you know!)
No doubt in my mind, THIS was God’s plan. We HAD to walk through those weeks of struggle, so that we could tell this baby girl someday, no doubt, you are our daughter. Chosen by God to complete this family.
Of course we have questions and worries. It is 5 kids, it is another adoption and we don’t have the money, our house is chaos now, we home-school and Mark works from home, there is never a quiet moment. Yet we are so blessed and thankful that God has allowed us to have these children. This baby girl is a gift and we will never forget that she is His first.
We are SO thankful to so many of you who have prayed and walked with us through this journey so far, and it has only just begun! We were so nervous to tell our families, thinking they would let us know we ARE crazy! Yet, they have been as excited about her as they were about Sage! We know that she is already on everyone’s heart and already a member of this family.
God has been faithful and loving and we are in awe of HIS mercy.


Anonymous said...

That was a beautiful written post and such a testiment to your and Mark's faith. I am so happy to have been along for the ride with you on this and praying right beside you. We all know why it took so long for this baby girl to be choosen, it was because she was waiting on you and for you to be shown what He has in store for your family. God Bless you all, Kathy

Amy said...

I'm super excited for you! I vote for the name Shelley, it means a medow on a slop. I looked up her birth city Jinhua City and it said it was a mainly hilly lands .

Mom of 5 said...

Tears of JOY for you and your family !!!
Way to go is how it should be. You were destined to do it again.
This makes my day !!
Love and prayers....
Shelly and the entire Waala clan

Kudo said...

April gave me your blog link because the thinks are daughters look a like. I was up all night reading your story. I would so like to adopt again but can't because I am single. I would love to go back and get her little boy friend that she kisses in the Orphanage video but I can't. It breaks my heart. I am so happy for you and your faith is so strong God will give you everything you need to provided for all 5 of you beautiful children. Have a great trip to China.

God Bless

Anonymous said...

WOW! I have heard about this blog from people at church and have always had intentions of visiting, but never had the time, being that I am also a homeschooling mother of 4. I have heard bits and peices of the story, but never the whole thing in it's entirety. I can remember going out to dinner with Shannon the same night that she found Mavery on the list. I could see her heart was moved, but she had a sense of hopelessness not knowing how Mark would react. It is awesome to see how God has worked in the lives of everyone involved in this story. I am edified! I think the body needs to hear more stories like this, and see how God is at work in the lives of people around us so that we all will be spurred to do more of His work. I will be praying for your family.

Blessings, Raechel Ingrum

Anonymous said...

I have to tell you a story...My husband and I have adopted from China and are planning on another adoption.
We too have been looking at the waiting children, not quiet ready yet, still fundraising..and I had seen Odessa. Her sweet face stuck in my mind. We prayed for her to find a good family after seeing her on the list for a while. I was so happy to see she had been placed. Lately our family & our friends have just fallen apart with Cancer, Financial trouble, marriage problems..ect I dont think we have a family member that isnt going through somthing horrible right now. We have all felt heavy with burden & I prayed Tuesday on the way to work in my car "God please let me see your work, I need a faith lift and just to see a blessing in someones life. I was looking into older child adoptions today and accidentally was in google images instead of the net. Well I clicked on a site and there She was Your Odessa..Tears fell as I realized God answered my prayer, Odessa found you, she was blessed with a forever family. I just couldnt believe with millions of sites on the net that I came across yours. I never expected to see a photo of her again.. Wow! God is good..He showed me he is still working in lives and that with all that is wrong with family and friends that his hand is in it.. Praise God you found her and I feel so lucky to see the baby we prayed for find a family..I got my prayer answered! A blessing in someones life.. Congratulations! She is beautiful. Thanks for sharing your site. I noticed the day she was found 12/18..Was the day in China that Meia became ours for good. We got her on the 15th and it was final on the 18th..Our site is enter: Meia Hofer