Friday, June 26, 2015

An Update on Will!

Over six weeks ago we requested an update on Will from his orphanage and it finally came today! That was a really REALLY long wait and I'll be honest, my imagination wasn't helping things at all. But it came and he looks good! We also now know his sizes and about where he is developmentally, which is a HUGE help in prepping to bring him home. He'll definitely be in 18 month clothes, size 4 shoes, and size 3 diapers. I guessed right. And surprise: He's walking on his own now! Really, July 20th can't come soon enough.

But we have so much to do still! The family room table is covered with my lists. Packing lists. Grocery lists. To Do lists. Things that are Left lists. On Wednesday I packed Will's suit case. Last night I organized (with paperclips and sticky note labels) all of our adoption documents that travel with us into an accordion file folder. I'm making crockpot freezer meals ahead of time. And we need to keep on top of the regular summer stuff, too. Like how our car needed new breaks (gulp), Maren had girls camp, Jacob is looking for work, the 4th of July is coming up, and after five years, we're wedging in a family vacation with my sister at the beach! Plus, I'm trying to write a new story. Bonkers. But the time should definitely fly.

Enough about that. Here are some new pics of Will. In studying, I read that the Chinese really bundle up their children, even in Summer, and you need to prepare to ease them into fewer layers, but that doesn't seem to be the case with Will. He looks comfy. In Guangzhou, days will be in the 90s and wet with rain and humidity. Kind of like when we went to Costa Rica with Brandon's Spanish students. We'll pack umbrellas and hats and good shoes, not sandals. The streets are too filthy for open feet. That's kind of sad, but oh well. A friend is loaning us their Ergobaby soft carrier for when we explore. I'm so curious to find out what Will will think of it all. I'm arming myself with loads of compassion. And dum dum suckers, as urged by others who have gone before us.

We're ready to smooch those cheeks.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

We Are Going to China! Again!


We have our Travel Approval and it looks like our Gotcha date is July 20, and our appointment at the American Consulate in Guangzhou is July 28. We are this very minute working out flight itineraries! It's going to feel like an eternity, but we have lots going on between now and then, so at least we'll be busy! We honestly can't wait.

This trip will be different in a lot of ways. There is the obvious difference: XinQin. I still think about her and she is in my prayers. I imagine her with her "take no prisoners" attitude in the orphanage, but I also remember her crying and being scared. She was scared, and misled, and angry, and didn't have the tools to deal with those emotions. She's where she wants to be, in China. A child's scope can be so narrow. But I truly hope she feels comforted in her choice. I wouldn't wish regret on anyone. Especially a young girl. Again, I tell myself, a disruption like ours rarely happens. But it did. When we lost Kate, our baby girl, it was to a genetic anomaly that rarely happens. But it did. 1 in 12,000. Someone has to be the one. So we figure out how to grow from it. How to redraw our limits. Because the possibility is to come out stronger. I hope we're stronger.

Because we're going to get Will. We are skipping the tour of Beijing this time and will go right to his province, which happens to be Guangzhou, where the Consulate is. No flying from province to province. We'll be in the same hotel with the same guide the whole time. We'll have doctor appointments, visa appointments, all kinds of appointments, and planned outings to explore the area. We'll be able to spend the whole time getting to understand and know our son, and hopefully building  the foundations of trust with him. After all, we will be strangers to him.

I think of my granddaughter, Carly, and how comfortable she is in her little apartment with her little routine, how much she loves her parents and gets so excited to see them after a brief separation. She has her favorites and her dislikes and her friends. I consider how it would be if a strange, though well-intentioned couple suddenly showed up and her caregivers handed her over for good. Knowing Carly, she would be disoriented, sad, angry, and might refuse food, touch, play, and sleep. She would not give in easily. And though she is so young, it would change her a bit.

Here is an excellent look at what this kind of  transition can mean to an adopting family, from the perspective of the dad. So there will be some major adjusting. I like how this father says this is a marathon, not a sprint. I also like how playful interaction can go a long way in reaching these children who have very basically grown to rely on themselves for comfort and assurance. They need to learn to be dependent on someone else, and that is often the cause of attachment issues. Not all families experience this. But, as we know first-hand, we have to accept the possibility and prepare. But Will is already a blessing to us. He is already a hero to me. He has already braved life. He will have to brave more. So much more. And I want to be the one sharing his tears and triumphs. We want to be the ones giving him the opportunity to love and be loved like only a family can.

Will will have his 2nd birthday before we get there. I will have my 45th birthday while we are in China. We'll have to celebrate. I'm thinking balloons...

And Chinese food.

We are coming, little guy. Ready or not, our lives are going to change. Again.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day Hike to Glacier Lake

Yesterday we took the kids to a trail near Packwood, a tiny town on the border of Mt. Rainier National Park. The weather was perfect, the hike was gorgeous, and we had a lot of fun. It took about four and a half hours. When we finished, peanut butter sandwiches never tasted so good. And water. Lots of water. Most importantly, Brandon had a really great time. I love seeing him relaxed and smiling, and I love living in this beautiful place. Happy Father's Day! Let's do it again!

Mt. Rainier through the clouds. 
The kids being them.

Thank you, mountain!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Blankets, Books, and Time

This happened on Twitter.

 Define "soon."

In the Lord's time. Right? Isn't that what I've been learning? In the Lord's time. What about cookie time...? 

While we wait for Travel Approval (which, by the looks of things should come this week) I've been busy. And I hesitate to share. Because part of me says, "Wait, because it might fall through. Wait, because last time you shared everything and it fell apart. Wait, because it's a risk. It's all such a risk."
But I made these things and I'm filling time and I'm preparing anyway. It's that whole "try" thing. I have to try. Again. So here we go again. And we're so close. And I want to give people hope. People who might have had things fall through. People who might be afraid to try again. People who are praying for us.

So I'll share.

I searched high and low for a baby book for adoptive families. I found very few, but I really like this one. I'm eager to start filling it in for Will, but I can't bring myself to start it until we have him in China. Until the papers are signed and he's ours.
But I can't wait to fill it in. All of our kids have a baby book. I at least did that.

I finally made a crib quilt. All the other kids had so many blankets and quilts. Will has three. So I made him this and I'm working on another, because who doesn't like soft comfy blankies?

I had a coupon for a free photo book from Shutterfly. So I gathered some pics and made one for Will. We'll take it to China and look through it and hopefully get him used to seeing our faces. Again, I made one of these for XinQin, so it's kind of hard to share it, but it's a sweet little book. 
It makes me smile.

Many people might say we are almost there. We are almost to the finish.
But I know better. 
We will be strangers to Will. We look different, we smell different, we sound different. People who have cared for him, who he has seen every day, who have fed him and put him to bed will be handing him over to us. He will, naturally, not be sure of us. We don't plan on getting much sleep. We do plan on comforting him and showing him he can trust us to be good to him, to feed him, to love him. To make him smile. To play. 
To not leave him alone.
His little body will need to adjust to our food, our drink, our medicine. Our time zone.
These are not things I worry about. Much. He is very young, and in that way, time is on our side.

But when people say we are almost to the finish, I know better.

We are almost to the starting line.

So come on, Starting Line.
Get here already.

(in the Lord's time, of course)
Oh please, oh please.