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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Saying Goodbye

Tonight I was the hands and feet for my son. A classmate of his was broadsided and killed by a drunk driver last week. Her visitation was very filled with friends and relatives—I chose not to go through the receiving line. I didn’t know her in life—I didn’t feel right looking at her in death. I thought and practiced conversations with her mom three dozen times in the past week—each and every one ended in my weeping—not what her mom needed at a night like this. In the end I signed the registry, including both mine and my son’s name, walked around looking for someone I knew, and stood in the back of the room, watching her mom and staring at her coffin. The photos that were in the reception room were probably still put together from her graduation open house last spring. Her videos from script-writing class are immortalized forever. Tonight I felt and still feel somber: thankful that my 5 children are at home, either sleeping or studying for exams; thankful that my eldest is at school studying his brains out and swimming his heart out. I feel indulgent that I have so many beautiful blessings, and Bethany’s mom is grieving in a way that I never want to understand. I have a wonderful sister that shares her name, one that is too far away for me to hug, which I would do tightly tonight. And tonight, I was an extension of my eldest son, who knew her briefly but will never forget Bethany.
All my best,

Monday, February 6, 2012

I Shudder to Think!

Recently, a lot of our conversations around the dinner table have been retrospective about our girls’ life in China before life with us. Unfortunately, Amanda doesn’t remember much, but Hope does, and we continually learn more about her former life.

We are cautious not to belittle what she had before and to acknowledge what she endured to make the adjustment through the adoption. We were talking about her feelings when she saw us, when we took her away, living in the hotels, boarding the airplanes, etc. Hope told us that she never took off her coat while in China because she was not used to buildings having heat. Her former school didn’t have it and neither did her foster home. She was expecting to have it get cold in the middle of the night, so she wore it CONSTANTLY. She also mentioned that her former foster family didn’t have an ample water supply, hot or otherwise, to have the hour long hot showers like she originally told us. (not that we believed her, but she finally trusts us enough to tell the truth and that she wasn’t honest before.)  Most sobering, however, was when we talked about her fears and feelings about coming here. She told us that she was told that she MUST say that she wanted to be adopted; that she didn’t have an option. I asked her if she knew she could say no to us, would she have done so?  She said Yes, without a moment’s hesitation. (talk about a heavy silence that followed that bombshell!)  But she also followed up that statement that she is so glad that she did come home with us to be a part of our family.

In light of other families returning home without their older children because the children decided at the last moment they didn’t want to be adopted, I shudder to think of our family if Hope knew she had that option. Is it really in the best interest to give a 12 or 13 year old the life-altering choice to have a forever family or to stay in China as an orphan? I know my eldest daughter still thinks she knows everything but is desperately needs her parents to give her firm guidelines and to reign her in when she wants to go astray. I could never allow her to make a monumental decision that would affect her for the rest of her life based on fear of the unknown with no regard to the opportunities she would (or wouldn’t) have. Why do governments think this is a good idea??

Once again, a glimpse of the providence of God has been revealed to us. We are SO thankful for his hand!

All my best,

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Happy 2-Year Homecoming!

It is SO hard to remember life without our Hope and Amanda!!! Has it only been two years? It seems like forever.
At the same time, it is incredible to think of all that the girls have accomplished in two years:
Became conversational in English (Amanda had NO English upon arrival and Hope depended on Google translate)
Found their niche in our family—Amanda as a virtual twin of Hannah J
Amanda discovered that she has an imagination (once again—NO imaginary skills upon arrival!)
Hope went from “showing effort” in middle school to pulling straight “A”s in high school
Amanda competing in Bible Quiz Bowl for AWANA and achieving 2nd place out of 9 teams (this included standing on a stage and giving answers into a microphone!)

These are just a sampling of what they have accomplished—which doesn’t really define who they are. Hope is SO MUCH like me—I continually remark how much she is like her mom—because there are likenesses that go way beyond the physical. She is also a LOT like her closest brother, Andrew. They are probably more like virtual twins than either would admit. I hope they realize it soon and learn to embrace the relationship they could have!

David just mentioned that he can’t imagine life without “the girls”. I can, but the only way I could describe it would be flat. These girls have brought dimension to our family and to ME that is beyond measure. I can imagine life without them, but I certainly wouldn’t want it!

To my beautiful Asian Daughters—Hope Katherine XiFan and Amanda Beth MinZhi—Welcome Home!!!

All my best,