Monday, September 8, 2014

We interrupt this long blogging silence with an exciting announcement!

Yep, I've been bad at blogging lately. The way I store my pictures changed, which added a few extra steps (I know, not a big deal, but it makes it more of a hassle!) and then not being able to share Jubilee's face has made it difficult, I either have to take pictures of her with her back turned, or edit each picture to hide her face. Add that to, you know, homeschooling and laundry and adding on to the house and summer vacations and activities... I'll try to be better!

Anyway, we have an exciting announcement to make! We hadn't planned on adopting again for another couple of years, but we've said that after each adoption and so far we haven't lasted that long! When God wants us to adopt, he makes it pretty clear, and it's hard to argue with that ;)

I'm in a lot of adoptive family groups and groups for orphan advocacy. Social media is great for orphan advocacy-sharing a child's photo and profile on a social media site can get thousands of viewers and reach just the right person with a heart for adoption. I have seen hundreds of waiting orphans on social media, either older and/or with special needs, and while my heart goes out to each and every one of them, I never said "That one. That child belongs in our family." Until now...

She's in a country I never imagined traveling to, she's a teenager, an age I never thought I'd parent at my own young age, she's in a wheelchair. So many things we've always assumed our life would not include at this point, it would have been so easy to just move on.

She is disfigured and cannot do a single thing for herself. She has been told that she is ugly and not useful, that nobody would want her. She lives in a place for the seriously disabled. The mentally disabled, the physically disabled. She doesn't have a mental disability, people who have met her say she is very bright, and has committed some long and complicated poems to memory. She hasn't had much education available to her, but she desires to learn. She desires a family. She desires a future. She desires the ability to move her arms and legs, to do things for herself-things she knows are possible if she could just get to America and get treatment.

I saw her and couldn't stop thinking about her. The next day, Eric and I happened to be on a no-kids breakfast date, and I showed him her profile. He immediately said "let's do it." And the paper chase began.

So here's how this country works. It is the opposite of Hong Kong. In Hong Kong adoption, you can say what country you are adopting from, but you can't post pictures. This country, you can post pictures, but not the name of the country or her real name. They also don't give referrals, they work on more of a 'first come, first served' basis, which I think is actually more fair in a way. You don't get an official match until you get to the country, which means that we could do all the paperwork, get all the way to this country, and find that she's already been adopted. If that happens, it's ok. We would be thrilled that she has found a family, and we would still have the opportunity to view the files of other children there. Our grant money would still transfer over to our adoption, and orphans would find families. Still a good day. So, I still hesitate to call her our daughter, but rather the child we have loved since the moment we saw her and hope to adopt.

Ok, are you ready to see her? You can check out our Reece's Rainbow fundraising page here, which features a very cute picture of her:

 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Journey's 4th birthday

Since I was in Hong Kong meeting Jubilee on Journey's birthday and then we were jet lagged and adjusting to life, so we didn't end up celebrating her March 12th birthday until April 1st. We went to the zoo with her bff, and her cousin Elo.


Then we went home for presents. We've discovered that having 4 kids means that you already have a zillion toys and it becomes hard to find gifts. Thank you, Pinterest, for creative gift ideas! We ended up making a pvc pipe puppet theater and giving her a box full of puppets.


 Eric showed her how it worked with a birthday themed skit :)
 All the kids trying it out!
 Peanut butter pie for dessert



She had a great belated birthday that ended with finally getting to watch Frozen, while wearing her new purple shoes and sparkly headband. I can't believe she's 4!!

Friday, July 11, 2014

March Randoms

The past few months have been really busy and crazy as we adjusted to having 4 kids, and as Jubilee adjusted to having a family and a home. Here are some pictures from her first few weeks home-mostly getting into things, as toddlers do :)

Bedtime stories on her first night home


First walk as a family of 6-I can't believe how much snow we still had in the middle of March!



 Before I went to bed one night, I peeked into the girls' room to check on them and Vivi wasn't in her bed. Just as I was about to go looking for her, I noticed 2 little hair caps in Journey's bed :)



Thursday, July 10, 2014

Home!

We were greeted at the airport by both of our families, and my best friend. Jubilee was overwhelmed by all of the adults, but enjoyed meeting her siblings and cousins. I was so exhausted that the whole day was a big blur-good thing we got pictures to remind me! We aren't able to post pictures of her face until we finalize, hopefully in September, so until then you'll have to enjoy these pictures of the back of her head :)




Our adventure home!

I had accepted my jet lagged schedule of going to bed at 8pm and waking up at 2am as a blessing, because we had to leave for the airport at 5am and I was worried all week that we would miss it. I put Jubilee to bed, did some packing, then went to bed. I got up around 2, took a shower, and packed up the last of our things. When Jubilee woke up about an hour later, we didn't have much else to do, so I figured we'd just leave to make sure we were there on time. I called down to the desk and asked for the bellhop to come get our things and checked out of the hotel while the bellhop hailed a taxi and loaded our bags into it. Janice had wanted us to take a bus to an airport check-in location where I could get rid of the bags before having to go to the airport, but the bus station didn't open until too close to our flight leaving and I didn't want to risk it. My crazy plan was to rely on the kindness of strangers-in a country where strangers don't help other strangers, no matter how pathetic they look.

The ride to the airport was dark and boring until I absentmindedly started reading the fare charts and realized there were a bunch of extra fees for a taxi to the airport-baggage fees, extra mileage, etc. I started pulling out my cash and counting it-the amount I had been told was either lost in translation, or someone forgot to add the baggage fees. I spent the rest of the trip staring at the meter and recounting my money.

When we got to the airport, it was still dark and looked pretty deserted. I had a baby, a stroller, a diaper bag, and 2 giant suitcases. The taxi driver pulled all of my things out, looked at me, and ran over to grab a cart. He used hand motions to ask if I was going to get into the building by myself-I don't think he was able to walk away from the cab to help me and we weren't able to pull right up to the doors like you can at home. I said I'd figure it out, thanked him, and ever so slowly started to make my way toward the door. The luggage cart was not made to be pushed with one hand, and neither was the umbrella stroller, so my weight was going back and forth between straightening the path of the cart, and then straightening the stroller. About halfway there, 2 men from India (thank you world travelers!) were bringing their bags in and one man left his suitcase to come and help me. He even asked his friend to hold his suitcase while he helped me find my check in counter, a 5 minute walk from his. He spoke English, so we made small talk, and when we got to my check in, he asked if I was sure I could take it from there. There were already other people hanging out there, so I assured him I'd figure it out or ask for help from someone here. He pointed out a bench I could sit on and as he was parking the luggage cart nearby, the man I sat next to was asked where he was from and he said "Michigan". What are the odds?! He also had a toddler daughter at home, and he made sure I got my bags checked and put the cart away for me. 

Now that we were there on time and checked in, I was able to relax, laugh a little at all the crazy situations of the past 12 hours, and we went to McDonalds for breakfast. They had a very different menu, especially for breakfast!-pasta, fish sandwich, burger. I went with the breakfast platter-pancakes, eggs, and sausage to share. 

Soon it was time to get on the plane. Jubilee was excited to have her own seat and start playing with the buckle, the magazines in the seat pocket, and opening and slamming the tray table, but when it came time to take off, she got a little nervous. Luckily she had been up for a few hours at that point so she fell asleep.

And when she woke up they had passed out snacks and headphones to watch movies

We were kept well fed! We had a choice of American food or Japanese food on the flight to Japan, I got one of each, figuring that way I'd definitely find food for Jubilee to eat.


We landed in Japan and went through the loong line at customs. Japan has strict rules about liquids, they won't even let you buy a Starbucks inside the airport and take your cup on the plane (that happened to the lady behind me). I pulled out all the baby food I thought I had in the diaper bag, but I had packed as many snacks as I could in every corner of the diaper bag, so got pulled aside and they kept having to run my bag through and hand it back, telling me there was more liquid somewhere. They ended up emptying the entire bag and were very friendly and understanding about it, but when they were satisfied that my only liquids were baby food, they moved on to the next person and left me there with a pile of stuff to repack. 

I have no idea what all of this was in the airport bathroom!



The trip from Japan to the US was long, but not too bad. Jubilee slept through quite a bit of it. As the plane was landing, the man who was sitting in our row complimented Jubilee's behavior on the plane and asked if she had flown a lot. I explained that this was her first trip and that I had just adopted her and was bringing her home. He was shocked, he said we seemed so in sync and so connected, he couldn't believe we had only known each other for a few days <3 He wished us the best and pretty soon we were heading off the plane, with just one more stop at immigration before getting to see the rest of our family!


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Our adventure back from Disneyland

Heading back from Disneyland, we were both tired, but Jubilee had the leisure of napping on the subway. As confident as I was at having gotten to Disney by myself, now I had to follow the map backwards. Maps and directions are not my strong suit, I still use my gps to get to my sister's house 45 minutes away. We made it back with very few issues-at one stop the elevator was out so I had to take Jubilee out of her stroller and try not to fall down the escalator with her, the stroller, the diaper bag, and her giant Minnie Mouse. A major cultural difference in Hong Kong is that everyone minds their own business, nobody holds doors or helps moms with their hands full. 

We finally got to our final stop, but for some reason I couldn't find the way we had come in. After walking back and forth a couple of times, I ended up just taking the exit I kept finding. We came out onto the street, I looked around, and realized I had no idea where I was. Not wanting to look like a tourist, I confidently headed down the sidewalk, casually looking around to see if I recognized anything. Eventually, I noticed a building not too far away that I recognized (thank you random colored squares on the building!) and headed in that direction. Pretty soon after that I noticed the hotel's logo at the top of our hotel! I had made it!

I was tired, hot, and starving, but Jubilee was asleep in the stroller and every store and restaurant in Hong Kong seems to require either a step up or down into the building-nothing is handicap accessible there. Finally I picked a restaurant that had steps but that I had wanted to try, took Jubilee out of her stroller, and carried her, the stroller, and all of our bags up into the restaurant. I ordered food to go-I was exhausted-and then carried everything plus a bag of food and cup of Hong Kong milk tea back down the stairs. I got Jubilee back into her stroller and hefted everything across the street. When I got to the hotel, a lobby full of businessmen stood and stared at me through the glass doors as I struggled to get the heavy door open and all of our stuff through. Sheesh!

Here's another dinner picture-roast pork with a yummy sauce! I had survived the trip, and now it was time to pack for home!






Hong Kong Disneyland

There isn't much to tell about our day at Hong Kong Disneyland. She was very excited to see Mickey and Minnie, so we got in line, but when we got up close, she was not a fan. We collected some character stickers from various employees, bought a stuffed Minnie Mouse with the year and name of the park on it, and wandered around looking at the sights. 





By the time we got to It's a Small World, she had fallen asleep, but I enjoyed the ride. When she woke up, we stopped for lunch-I got roast duck leg with rice and Chinese vegetable (that's what they called it, I don't know what it was).  



 Then we wandered into Toy Story Land since we don't have that here. We went on the Slinky Dog ride, which went faster than I thought it would and she hated it :( I thought since she loves music, she would enjoy the Small World Ride while awake, but after one scary ride, she was done. It was still a great day though, everything was clean and the people were friendly, I didn't have to worry about fending for myself in the big city.
 These guys were so fun!
 The view from the subway station on Lantau island on the way back