Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"Mommy! Daddy! I love you!"

"Man...I'd sure like to be a fly on the wall when that whole thing goes down!" 

Most of you immediately had a sense of recognition when you read that line...probably because you've either said it yourself or had someone say it to you.  It usually involves something "juicy" or secretive that we really shouldn't know about...or else we'd just say, "Hey! I love sticky and uncomfortable situations!  Can I come?" or  "Anybody mind if I stand right here while you discuss your personal chaos?" Of course, being that direct would just not be politically correct...so we soften the edges with our "fly on the wall" comments! So sneaky...you people, you...

BUT...I wish every single one of you could have been a fly on the wall this morning at the Carr home...because I will never be able to describe for you the ecstatic joy felt in the wee small hours of January 23, 2013.

I've mentioned before all the incredible blessings God has poured over us during the entire adoption process...most of which are entirely foreign to those that has persevered through the same.  

We've got childhood pictures celebrating special occasions and everyday life...one day, (when all this mysterious "free time" occurs) I'll be gathering them together into some fabulously amazing scrapbook that will be the envy of all you...scrapper people...you know who you are...

We've made incredible connections with several wonderful people who've cared for our sweet babies ever since they were brought to the orphanage as infants.  The firsthand, personal knowledge of our children that they've shared with me is something I will always treasure.  They have literally been the hands and feet of Christ to these, and so many others, when they were outcasts and no one knew their names.  They hugged them, sang to them, told them stories about our Father, tried to comfort the tears brought on by insecurity and fear, took them on outings to the park, played with them, and done countless other unnoticed, and often unappreciated, things for the least of these. I could never run out of "thank you's" for these sweet angels.

I could add all sorts of God-moments that have blown our minds and cemented in our hearts that all of this...start to finish...is solely the work of the Sovereign One. But because you're getting impatient, and I am literally about to burst, I'll just get to it.

This morning around 4 am, the stationary became mobile...the notion became reality...the picture became people. Real, live, flesh and bone people. Approximately 11 months after this journey began, we were able to connect first-hand with our precious children so far away. I mean...seriously...are you getting this...AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! Wait for it...EEEEEEKKKKKK!!! Ok...whew...I told you...bursting. 

To make a long story short, we finally connected with someone across the ocean (an American...from Texas...I know, right?!?) with a Skype account who agreed to try and make this thing happen...and it did...in all of it's awesomeness. (sorry...ran out of adjectives...that's what happens when your head has just about spun off from excitement!) Unfortunately, due to the 14 hr. time difference, and the schedule of toddlers, we had to go with 4 am. Yikes. Regardless, alarms were set...sleep taunted us...and then it was time.

I seriously about fell out of my skin when the picture came up with our "new friend," seated between our two precious little ones. But I can tell you there was no time to get sentimental because as soon as he saw our faces, Jai Hai shouted... (incidentally, so thankful for that handful of Chinese phrases our friends, Ty and Julie, taught us...because we KNEW WHAT HE WAS SAYING!!!)...so he shouted, "Mommy! Daddy! I love you!" No stinkin' way. No prompting. Just sheer happiness. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen and heard it. We were ooh-ing and aah-ing...laughing and almost crying. Then he started blowing kisses at the screen...for real. So we started blowing kisses back at him...which he loved...and he smiled and kept calling our names. When the camera was turned off of him, he hollered at us to get our attention again. He was loud and silly...not sure how he's going to fit in around here.

All the while, Cha Cha just sat there quietly...never saying a word but never taking her eyes off of us. So, so sweet and shy. She doesn't talk much, they said, but she doesn't seem to mind and is content to let her "brother" keep everyone entertained. At one point, they said, "Cha Cha, show momma your flower you picked for her!" And as if completely understanding every bit of what was happening, she gently raised her arm and held up a flower she'd been waiting to "give" me. Oh. my. heavens. Melt...

They really enjoyed seeing Peyton and Ty too...they thought Ty was older, which he loved, as you can imagine. They'll "meet" the other two another day. I've already sent a message asking for another "visit." Oh goodness...this might replace my peanut butter obsession. We better get over there quick!!!

We ended the call with a big ole drawn out kiss from Jai Hai...perfect ending to one of the most perfect moments in my life. 

I was again reminded of that song, He Knows My Name...again reminded that this was not the first time their Maker had seen them move and breathe...
again reminded that His timing and plan is always best, even when it looks like He could use a hand from me.

It was such a gift...so unheard of...so farfetched...so unlikely...unless you're God. He just seems to keep smacking us over the head with this over and over..."You have know idea what I can, and will do, for the sake of my glory and your good!" He keeps blessing...over and abundantly more than we could ever think or imagine. All glory and praise to Him.




Saturday, January 5, 2013

My Toddlers Aren't Terroists...

Well...not the new ones anyway...

Thought I'd break the silence on the adoption news front since, well, there's finally something to tell!

We received word that our file has officially left the homeland security offices for another US government office. Mind-numbing hoopla. The best part of this stage...it only stays there for a few days before...well, I'm not sure you're prepared for this part...are you sitting down...have your inhalers ready...take whatever heart pill necessary...ok...are we good?!? Now where was I? Oh yes...it only stays there a few days before...

IT IS SENT OFF TO CHINA!!!!!!

And then guess what?!? More sitting down, more pills....

THEN CHINA SENDS US OUR TRAVEL DATES!!!!

Seriously...you may want to lie down now...

THEN ROUGHLY 3-4 WEEKS LATER........AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH.......

WE GO GET OUR BABIES!!!!!!!!!! (who are not terrorists...it's been checked out...for real.)

Is everyone ok out there???

Brief backstory: We've had much more red tape since I last told you about the status in October. Lots of back and forth, major progress met with gridlock delays, joy suffocated in a frustration sandwich...sometimes all in one phase. For example, we thought the majority of the paperwork was finished on our end once the dossier, in all of its splendor, was sent off to China, only to be handed a Great Wall-ish amount of new paperwork to complete. Just to give you an idea of the scope and depth of the saga, one question...just one...said, "List any expenses you've had to date in the adoption process, followed by any anticipated expenses." No, I'm serious. 

So...the administrative one of us got to work again. In case you're wondering, that would not be me. I'm the trophy wife. [snicker...I make up the competition and the rules...pretty much undefeated thus far]

Then we got the big news: "You've been officially matched with your 2 children!" Excuse me, what?!? Pretty sure that'd already happened. But apparently that had been the pre-approval, and then the un-official...but now...drum roll...official. Call me negative, cynical, whatev...but I sent an email off that basically said, "Are you serious?!? What gives?!? Please let me know when to rejoice and when to just keep swimming..." (best part of my night is now you're chanting..."just keep swimming..." and you can't stop! HA! I know...somebody doesn't get out much)

One bright note is that we were allowed to send our application to Homeland Security in advance while we waited for the above official document...only to get a rejection letter because said official document wasn't included...sigh. Anyway, once we received the LSC, we sent it off the next day and began another waiting period. We gave them the week of Christmas and then got in touch with them after returning home from Indiana. 

"Agent X, who's in charge of your case, is on vacation. I'm handling her cases right now...if I could just FIND your paperwork, I could send it off today...hmmm...now where could that be..." Ok...so I added the last tidbit out of a smart aleck heart, but ACK! I didn't know what to be more aggravated with...that X left on vacation without sending our approved paperwork to China, or that said paperwork was indeed MIA. "If you can scan and email all those forms again, we will send it off today!" SO...that's what we did. Suck it up. Do what you've got to do.

I'm choosing to play the glad game, however, (thanks to my friend Charlotte who plays it WAY too frequently) because it was sent off to the next agency this past Friday as I mentioned above, and it will likely be sent to China this next week. OK...happy sigh.

And so, boys and girls, that's the story of the little engine that could. Actually, it's not really about the engine at all. The conductor's the real deal...and He knows just where we're headed...hang on!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?!?

Well, I haven't seen you in awhile! What's been happening? Probably same as us...nothing much.  Then why am I so tired...because as I look back over the past couple months since we've not spoken, I remember just hurrying. That pretty much sums it up. Hurry. Rush. Get there. Do that. Act happy. Now go back. Change clothes. Go do it again. Quicker. Shower-optional. Don't think. Just do. Don't show emotion. Just pretend. 

Unfortunately, after several months of that, you get to Christmas break and all the anticipated time of relaxation and refreshment with your family, and your body just starts to crash...shut down...say g'night Gracie.

You can imagine all the "Mother-of-the-Year" moments I could share from the past chaotic months. You'd feel better about yourself in just about every aspect of your life...I'd probably even laugh at myself...but we'll just save that for another day. (Hopefully, it won't be 2 more months from now, but I'm not making any promises.)

After feeling a good bit like my bosom friend, Anne, in the depths of despair, I thought it best to hash out some reflection on one simple day.  December 31st. That day reminds me in a concrete, tangible way...God truly cares about every detail, every person, every tear, every groaning.

12/31/11: We had roughly 30-40 people from our new church unloading 2 giant trucks into every crevice of our rental home in Iowa, including the outbuildings. It was so touching that so many people came to help, most of whom I'd never laid eyes on. We felt loved but also overwhelmed...in every sense of the word. 

When all was said and done, there was walking and sleeping room only throughout the entire house...I was tasked with trying to get the family "settled" in two days before school started...trying to understand how we would minister and relate to this group of people we met while standing in a box-moving assembly line...and the more pressing issue was dealing with the family relationships amidst the upheaval of all they'd ever known and the intense weeping that seemed to overtake just about every member of the family at any random moment. Overwhelmed.

It was New Years Eve. We were alone and exhausted...physically, emotionally, and mentally. Daddy said no one was staying up, especially since we had church the next day. Emotions ran wild. Overwhelmed. We were grateful to have Chris' parents with us, but when they left, the floodgates were opened. It truly makes my skin crawl just reliving that day.

12/31/12: Due to some last minute schedule changes, we found ourselves once again traveling to Iowa on this day...crazy. Obviously it was a very different trip...and not because Chris and the boys were leaving for the Iowa/Indiana basketball game as soon as we arrived home! The fear of the unknown was gone, the insecurity of home and health had been tucked away, the fatigue was a happy one. We did the things you do after a long trip...empty the vehicle, unpack suitcases, fight for the bathrooms...you know how it is.  And then came the question..."What are we going to do tonight?" Uhhh...uh-oh. We'd had one offer, but the basketball game pretty much took care of that! 

I'm so grateful that God provided us, in His wisdom, an evening to ourselves. Initially, it was another reminder of that night one year ago where we were alone. But it ended up being a night of laughter, bonding, fighting (haha...had to be honest! 6 people with their own agenda tend to do that!), and gratefulness. We had a simple dinner, played some Catch Phrase, caught a family flick, and finished up the night watching bits and pieces of musical train wrecks on the NYE tv celebrations...then laid our heads down to rest with nary a box in sight. (To clarify...still have many boxes packed...but they're out of sight!) 

Much different than 2011. No gloom and doom...only gratefulness for our family that, while far from perfect, is truly a gift from a loving Father. The same Father that is right there in the middle of our sorrow shows himself smack dab in the center of our joy. He's awesome.