Good thing we have a lot of travel hours ahead because this one might take a while.
Quick side note before I plunge in to our journey to Annie: In writing this blog and journaling for our family, I hope to preserve the memories for our children and to share life with our family and friends that live so far away. Blogs are great in that way and also great because you can stop reading them any time that you grow bored or disagree.
In trying to figure out when this part of our life's journey all started, it's hard to pinpoint the exact moment. I am going to write this as "my side" even though it is "our journey" as a family and especially one for me and Jeff . I will say that becoming a wife and mom has been my favorite part of life, so far. Becoming a mama and having the kind of love that I never knew existed unveiled has been amazing, wonderful, and beautiful. So, you could say it started there. But, you could say it was God's plan for us, for her or some combination of both. Anyway, I guess I would say that the first stirrings started when we fell in love with Mei Mei. And Mei Mei, that's a whole other story for a different day-what a blessing she has been to our family!
Also, I want to say that we did not set out to "save the world". Sure, knowing there are over 147 million orphans in the world was really making my heart break. And, we couldn't ignore all that we had learned about orphans.......oooh, that word, it really breaks my heart. Knowing how many children have NO MOM or DAD to love them just about does me in!!! I will admit, my heart was very soft after returning home with Mei Mei and watching her blossom, yet knowing how many children we'd left behind.
Innocently, one day, one day in March 2011, I was on the blog of a foster home in China. I am not even sure how I ended up on their site but I do believe that God led me there. I was scrolling down the page and saw some little Chinese boys at a dinosaur exhibit with an American guy and was just about to click off when I saw the title of the next post that grabbed my attention: "Renee turns 1". Since I am Renee and Hads is Renee, it peaked my curiosity and of course, we all know how fun that 1st birthday is--I couldn't resist. I scrolled down. It was then that I saw her.......there was something about her beautiful eyes that just captured me and drew me in. I couldn't quit thinking about her the rest of the day and the days that followed. I clicked on her sweet picture many times over those days. And as the time passed, I tried to muster the courage to talk to Jeff about her. You see, I knew he'd think I was crazy--6 kids????. And, I was right. I still remember his face when I sat in the kitchen with the laptop in front of me and asked him if we could talk and I began to tell him about her. We spent many days talking, walking, and praying and you know what our decision ended up being. Yes, I am one blessed woman with an amazing, God-lovin' husband. Our decision was reinforced when God started showing up in our lives in some very obvious ways and it was clear what He wanted us to do. I remember one walk where we discussed scripture and some particular verses. Sure enough, the next day's homily at Church included those exact verses.
In April, we contacted the agency that we used for our first adoption and they agreed to inquire about her. It turned out that the orphanage had not started her paperwork yet but agreed to do so since a family was interested. Now, our agency cautioned and warned us that we may never see her file. Once prepared, her file could be released to a different agency or come out on a list that every agency in the world could see at the same time. It was clear at the beginning that it would take a miracle for us to be her parents. We knew, without a doubt, that God was in control and if He wanted us to be her parents, then it would happen. I wasn't prepared for the wait, though, or that I was throwing caution to the wind and letting my heart fall in love with her. Seeing an occasional picture of her just added to my love for her. Think it's crazy that you could fall in love with a little girl half way around the world from just a picture? Me, too but it happened.....
Ten months later, her file had not been started and I was growing weary of waiting. I was at a dear friend's house one day and I confided in her and poured out my worries. I felt like I was starting to put up a wall of protection around my heart. I had a lot of doubts that her file would ever be released. I had started looking at the situation a little more realistically knowing how slim the chances would be that our agency would get her file or that they'd be able to get it off the list before another agency did. There were some new rules that required you to have your paperwork completed in order to be eligible to be matched with certain children and we hadn't even started ours. The waiting was starting to get to me. Had God used this beautiful child to open our hearts to adopt a different child? Did He just use us to start her paperwork for a different family? Were we just to pray for her? I was praying hard for an answer.
Later that day, we received our answer to prayer. It was clear that God had heard us. The very same friend who I had poured my heart out to earlier that day called me just hours later that afternoon. She told me to look at my phone because she was sending us a picture. She was pulling in to park at the YMCA and she saw two cars parked beside each other with personalized license plates. She sent us the picture at the top of our blog. God had indeed spoken: "Press On New Day". Our girl was at New Day Foster Home...........
Let that sink in....... coincidence? No way! For all that had to have aligned here took a mighty hand...... Think about it, my doubts and confiding in her that day, that friend going to the YMCA at that time on that day, her eyes being open, those cars parking beside each other, her driving down that row and on and on.....God heard us and answered......humbling and so overwhelming!!!! He really does care about our daily worries and He doesn't always answer in such amazing ways but He knew we needed Him and His direction as our faith was waning.
We started our paperwork and were matched with her in June. We've been working ever since to get her home as soon as possible and here we are...... 1 year and 9 months after I first saw her beautiful face, we are only a few days from being united with her. But, that's not the end of the story....it's just the beginning........
I am sorry that there's no pictures! We are finally arrived in Beijing--I will post some tomorrow!! Goodnight!