"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." John 14:18

Monday, December 28, 2009

Medical Treatment for Lilyia

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

When we were first given Lilyia’s medical information we knew that there was a very good chance there was nothing that could be done for her arm, as it really depends on how severe her case is. It did not give any indication in her file (from what we could tell) how severe her brachial plexus injury is, but we also knew that we could not turn a child down because of something so minor. She needed a family and we were willing to be her family and give her the best life possible while teaching her the love of Jesus. Well, I did a lot of research on brachial plexus injury when we were over in China trying to find some sort of medical intervention for some of the children at PHF. So, I recently e-mailed a doctor I was in contact with in the past, who specializes in this injury and I sent him all of Lilyia’s medical information. He looked over her files and I got a call a few days later from his secretary saying that he feels after looking over pictures of her arm and her medical information she is an excellent candidate for surgery. He feels she will need 2 surgeries which will take place about 3 months apart and will then give her 70% mobility of her arm. Wow! What an answer to prayer. We were fully prepared for surgery to not be a possibility for her as I know for many children with this type of injury, surgery is not an option. This is such great news and we give all the glory to God! We will continue to be in contact with this doctor as well as other doctors after we get her home to see what types of physical therapy she will need and when it will be best to do surgery. No matter what happens with her arm we know God made her this way for a reason and He has great plans for her life.

You know you're an adoptive parent when...

'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' Matthew 25:40

1. The fact that there are 143 million children without a parent to kiss them goodnight has made you lose sleep.
2. You realize DNA has nothing to do with love and family.
3. You can’t watch Adoption stories on TLC without sobbing.
4. The fact that, if 7% of Christians adopted 1 child there would be no orphans in the world, is convicting to you.
5. You spend free time surfing blogs about families who’ve experienced the blessing of adoption.
6. It drives you crazy when people ask you about adopted child’s “real” parents.
7. You’ve been “pregnant” with your adoptive child longer than it takes an elephant to give birth (2 years!)
8. You have no idea how you can afford to adopt, but stepped out in faith anyway, knowing He’d provide. (And He always does!)
9. You’ve taken an airplane half-way around the world with a child you’ve just met.
10. You believe God’s heart is for adoption.
11.You realize that welcoming a child into you heart and family is one of the most important legacies you could ever leave on this earth.
12.You know what the word “dossier” means and you can actually pronounce it correctly!
13. You’ve welcomed a social worker into the most private parts of your life.
14.You shudder when people say your child’s so lucky that you adopted them, knowing full well you’re the blessed one to have him or her in you life.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Merry Christmas

This is a great song from Third Day called “Merry Christmas.” Even though we will be without our little girl this Christmas, after this February, we will have the rest of our lives to celebrate Christmases and birthdays and every other holiday together and I can hardly wait. Praying that God holds her in his arms until we can come and get her! Merry Christmas Lilyia, we love you and we are coming soon!

What are we waiting for now?

Isaiah 40:31
"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."

We are currently waiting for our Travel Approval (TA) from China. After we received our Letter of Approval on December 2nd we had to fill out a bunch more paperwork and send it off to get Lilyia's visa, passport, etc. So, once all that is processed then china gives TA to the family. After we receive that we can travel within 2 weeks. Our Coordinator thinks we will travel the end of January or early February. If we don’t make it by then, we probably won’t go until the end of February or early March because Chinese New Year is in there and all the government offices close for 1-2 weeks during Chinese New Year. So, we are patiently waiting for our TA (or not so patiently waiting). It’s hard to be patient when I look at her beautiful pictures, but I know it is God's timeline not ours. We are coming soon Lilyia!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It Starts

Proverbs 16:9
"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."

Let me start by sharing a bit about our adoption journey, so I guess I should start at the beginning… (warning, this does get a little long, but I promise all of my entries won’t be this long)

Adoption has been something I have had in my head that I wanted to do some day since I was in high school. Well, I married my amazing wonderful husband in August, 1998 and he knew at the time I wanted to adopt some day, he agreed but never really had the passion about it that I did. Well, little did we know the journey God was going to take us on that would lead us to our daughter. We had our first two biological children within the first six years of our marriage and after living in Davenport, IA for four years, moved to Marshalltown, IA for John's job change. I knew this new job in Marshalltown had plants all over the world and I very clearly told my husband at that time in these exact words, “I will never live out of the country.” I wanted him to be aware of this in case a job opportunity ever arose internationally with this new company he was going to work for.

The first project that John had at his new job was going to take him on an eight day trip to China to do a project at the Emerson plant there. Well, China is where I had in my heart wanted to adopt from, so the first thing I thought of when he said he was going to China for a week was “orphans”. I casually mentioned that he should visit an orphanage while he was over there. Little did I know where that comment would get me.

He googled “Christian orphanage in China” and the first orphanage that popped up was “The Philip Hayden Foundation” and it was only twenty minutes from where he was going to be staying in China. John was able to visit this orphanage in Tianjin, China while he was there on this first trip and spend a few days there with the founders, Tim and Pam Baker.

The Philip Hayden Foundation is an orphanage in China for special needs orphans. They take in these orphans who are considered “broken” by their own society, raise the money to get them surgeries and then they help them get adopted into families. Since that first visit, his life has never been the same. It was truly an amazing and life-changing event. John was able to visit PHF on other trips back to China in that next year as well as build a friendship with the Bakers. In February of 2007, we got an e-mail from the Bakers saying they needed to come back to the states for one year and needed someone to come over and help at PHF while they were gone. After much consideration and prayer we decided this was a great opportunity and we would go. To tell you the truth, this opportunity had been a dream of John's ever since his first visit to PHF so it really didn't take much considering as we had already talked about it some in the past. It just felt that with the need that arose at PHF with the Baker's leaving for a short time, it was God telling us we should go. So, Tim emailed us and said “Great, and by the way, I need you here by this May.” Well, we raised support, sold our house, quit our job, and with God's provision we were able to get there by May. You may be asking…how did John convince me to move there, when I said I would never live outside of the country? Well, seeing his passion and love for this ministry and for these orphans changed my heart too and I just had a peace about it and knew this is where God wanted us. Plus, my heart for orphans really confirmed that if we were going to live outside of the country this would probably be the only reason I would do it.

So, the next 9 months of our lives were spent at Shepherd's Field Children's Village in Tianjin, China with our older two children. What an incredible time this was for our family. Even though it came with many challenges, we loved every minute of it. The Philip Hayden Foundation is such an amazing ministry and God is doing such incredible work there through the Bakers and we were so thankful we could be a part of it, even if for a short season of our lives. We fell in love with all the precious children at this orphanage, but one little girl in particular named Cadence whom we were really drawn to. We were hoping and praying we would be able to adopt this sweet little girl who has brachial plexus injury (paralyzed arm). We consulted many doctors about her condition and learned a lot about this type of special need. Well, we were not able to adopt her, but we praise God that she did get adopted into a Christian home and now has her own family. God surprised us with another blessing, and in January 2008 our mission to China was cut short by about three months upon pregnancy complications of our third child. Coming home earlier than we planned was difficult, but we knew God was in control and He had a plan in all this so we continued to trust him as we came back to the states.

Well, in January of 2009 (just weeks after we both turned 30, as you have to be 30 to adopt from China) we began the process to adopt our own child from China. We decided to go the special needs route since after working at PHF we were able to see the huge need for loving families for special needs orphans in China. We listed the special needs to our agency we were willing to consider, and then she refers us a child based on those special needs. Well, filling out a special needs list was not exactly an easy thing to do. We certainly didn't want to play God, but we also wanted to be sure we were taking something on that we were comforable with and felt we could manage with 3 other children in the home. We wanted to stick with relatively minor special needs, as we didn’t feel God leading us to severe special needs children at this point in our life. The needs I originally listed were…cleft lip/palate, club feet, minor heart condition. Well, about ten minutes before I emailed the list to our coordinator I really felt a tug at my heart that we needed to list brachial plexus injury as well. So, I told John, We were willing to adopt Cadence who had that special need, so why wouldn’t we adopt another child who has it and he agreed. About three weeks after filling out that list, on August 6th, 2009 I woke up to an email from our adoption agency coordinator with a file of a child she had “locked” for us. I was shaking as I opened the file. I was completely shocked to get a referral so quickly. There are many pages to this file so it takes some time to read through it. However, we immediately saw that her “special need” is brachial plexus injury of her left arm. Her Chinese name is Xu ChunXin and she was born April 22, 2008, so that makes her only 4 months older than Parker.

After receiving a file, you have 48 hours to look it over and say “yes, I want to move forward with adopting this child” or “No, I do not want to move forward with adopting this child.” If you say no, there are no questions asked and you can be referred another child. Xu ChunXin is completely healthy other than what we consider a very minor special need, which is a paralyzed arm. I must also add that she is so incredibly adorable as you can see from the pictures above. There was no doubt in our minds that she was ours. We emailed our coordinator that same day and said we want her.....we want to be her forever family so she will never be an orphan again. Her new name will be Lilyia Grace Christen.

Isn’t it amazing how God works? My passion to adopt led John to an orphanage in China, where his passion for this incredible orphan ministry later led our family to serve in China, where we met a sweet little orphan girl, who would then lead us to our precious daughter. God is so Good! It just shows how God's ways are so much better than we could ever think or imagine. He orchestrates and plans out our lives just perfectly if we just follow and trust in Him!