Sunday, June 3, 2012

Max Has A Baby Sister

We are excited to announce that Max has a baby sister! God has blessed us with another precious gift from China! 

Gan An Na was born on October 20, 2011
We have named her Ellie An Na
She is living in the Jianxin Social Welfare Institute of Jiangxi Province

When Max saw here he kept looking at Eric saying "baby, baby"

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Our Eyes Have Been Opened .... The Journey To Our Daughter

When God laid adoption on our hearts we began praying for him to lead us as a family!  When we felt God leading us to China to adopt Max we prayed he would open our hearts to what he would have for us on the journey.  God affirmed over and over in our journey to Max that this was his story being written, his timing and his plan for our family!  As we began our journey to Max we talked about being open to adopting again but trusted that once again God would open our hearts and open and close doors and lead our hearts and our minds.  On our journey to Max God took my heart on a journey.  When we were in China and went to Max’s orphanage our eyes were opened wide and our hearts were broken for the orphans we left behind.  The transformation we saw in Max just hours after having him in our arms was something that was unexplainable.  God continued to give Eric and I a heart for those we left behind and also gave us a love for China.  In October Eric and I were on a little weekend get away and as we sat at dinner out of the blue Eric asked me where my heart and head were with adoption.  I was a little taken off guard but began to share my heart with Eric.  I was ready to jump in and start the process weeks after being home with Max and yet now months later God was telling my heart the timing wasn’t right for our family.  I can only explain it as a God thing as Eric gave me the green light to start process again but God was telling me the timing wasn’t right, to wait and trust fully on his leading and his timing.  
On January 17, Max’s Gotcha Day anniversary, Eric again asked me where my heart and mind was in the process.  I shared with him how I felt ready but that I felt he had a ton on his plate right now at work and the stress level was pretty high.  I felt a total peace about starting but also felt a peace about waiting if he felt like it was too much right now.  I love Eric’s heart and his spiritual leadership in our family.  He said let’s commit to praying for a week every night together and let God decided if the timing is right.  We both felt like God had opened our hearts to step out in faith and adopt again  but it was a matter of trusting in his timing for our family. For the next week we committed to praying for God to lead our hearts and minds, to take this desire away if it wasn’t his will for our family and to confirm his timing in this process if it was.  Who knew this week would be a crazy week at our house.  Eric ended up having to make the biggest and most stressful business decision in the history of his company.  One night he was up until the wee hours working through all the details of this decision and as he crawled in bed at 2 am he rolled over and cuddled up to me and prayed that God would lead our hearts in our adoption decision.  It would have been so easy to put off our commitment to pray this week and just say the timing wasn’t right and our hands are full.  Our hands are full right now with 4 kids, a move in the next year and there a ton going on with Eric’s business.  Yet, once again I love Eric’s heart, leadership in our family  and trusting God’s plan for our family. At 2am he was committed to praying that God would affirm our hearts and make his timing clear.  
On January 24 we both clearly felt God leading us to start the process to bring a little girl home from China.  On January 24 Eric also signed the biggest contract in the history of his company! It was quite the day.  
We can’t wait to see God’s plan unfold.  He knows who our little girl is and knows how perfectly she will fit into our family. He knows the timing and all the details are in his hands.  We are trusting completely in his plan for our family as we begin ...
Follow our journey back to China at The Journey To Our Daughter blog.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Journey To Our Son Video

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Max And The Journey Of My Heart

As Max's Gotcha Day Anniversary approached I began going through all the pictures of our journey to him.  Of course there were so many emotions that surfaced as I looked through thousands of pictures.  Our journey to Max has been so much more than feeling like God was calling us to China to bring a son home. It has been a journey of my heart.  Along the journey there was fear, excitement, joy, anticipation, pain, loss, brokenness, peace and healing.

There was a journey taking place within my heart from the very start.  God had placed adoption on Eric and my hearts early in our marriage.  We didn't know what God's plan was for our family but we knew it was by no coincident that he laid this desire in both of our hearts.  When Eric brought up starting the adoption process I think I shuttered.  We were coming off the hardest year we had had to date.  The economy took a toll on Eric's business and all the stress in turn took it's toll on us in our marriage, on us financially, emotionally and spiritually.  I questioned the timing, if it was really what we should be doing coming off of this tough year.  Were we really ready as a couple to add another little one to our family. Were we ready for all the unknowns before us. Yes, there was fear in what was ahead and yet I loved how Eric continued to point me to God, his hand in our life over the past years and his plan for our family.  If we waited for all the stars to aline and life to feel neat and tidy we would be waiting forever and never make our way to China.  I felt like we were stepping out in faith.  So that is where it started, trusting a desire God placed on our hearts even though it didn't totally feel comfortable. Little did I know what was ahead.

As months passed we gathered, signed and anxiously anticipated seeing the little boy that God chose for our family.  In March we got a call that would forever change my life.  My best friend had been killed in a car accident.  I felt as though my world came crumbling down.  Our adoption processed slowed to a halt during that time and in that moment I didn't really care.  It was enough to get up and put one foot in front of another.  As I continued to walk through the darkest days of my life our adoption process began moving forward.  We got to a place where we were ready to send our Dossier to China which meant we would then be ready for a referral.  I began to push to get our paperwork to China as fast as possible and when we were almost there Eric asked me if I thought I was ready for this or if we should hold off for a while.  I remember being angry and feeling a sense of loss all over.  I felt like there was a little boy born in my heart already and we were so close to seeing his picture and Eric was wondering if we should take a step back.  After the emotions settled and we had more conversations I did understand my husband's heart.  I know he wanted me to be at a place emotionally that I could handle the unknowns ahead with our adoption.  He wanted me emotionally to be at a place ready to be a mother to four children and a wife.  He had said to me, "Julie these are potentially two of the biggest events of your life and they are happening in the same year!" When I was honest with myself I wanted the same thing.  I wanted to be at a place where I was emotionally ready for bringing a little boy home from China.  How do you know when you are walking through tough stuff if you will be ready for what is on the other side?  That was a time in my life that I vividly remember crying out and clinging to God.  Asking him to take away my desires and emotions and let me see clearly what he wanted for us in this process.  I began meeting with our pastor and began walking through this journey ... the grief, the adoption, our marriage, my relationship with Christ ... you name it we addressed it.  We talked through where I was at in my grief process and all the emotions that the adoption could bring out related to my grief and loss.  We talked about how it could push me through my grief faster than I was ready for and in turn would have guilt or resentment that was placed somewhere.  We talked about the overwhelming feelings of loss I might feel after having Max in our arms because of not having my friend there to walk through it with me.  We talked about the joy that Max could bring and the healing that could take place.  It seemed as though I was in for a tug a war and no real clue what it would look like in the end.  I wish there was a guidebook on grief and adoption but there isn't.  So we made the decision to walk forward trusting that God would supply all we needed in the process.

When we boarded a plane to China I knew it would be life changing but I had no idea what it would do to my heart in the process.  The day we traveled to Max's orphanage was a heart changing day for me.  As we walked the halls that Max called home for 17 months my heart broke over and over for the little ones that called Jinan SWI home.  As we saw these sweet faces I felt as though God reached down and placed his hand on my heart and a healing began in a heart that had been broken the past year.  Just as the healing began I felt as though God broke my heart in a different way ... he broke my hearts for the orphans.  I can't can't put into words the healing that was taking place with in my heart but the new brokenness I felt. It felt good to have my heart broken in a new way.  My heart was on a journey of a lifetime.

My love for Max grew within my heart before I even held him but there were questions.   In my human mind and in my own fear I wondered ... what would it feel like? Would I love him the same way I love the children I carried for nine months?  Would I feel like he was mine or would love be a choice and would it grow with time?  God gave me a love for this little boy that I can't describe. It is a love that reaches deep down in my soul.  This love gave me a new understanding of how great the love is that my Heavenly Father has for me.  He loves me as much as his one and only son! Now that is some kind of love.  Do I really understand it, have I embraced that love?  I am so thankful that he loves me and has adopted me as his own.

His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ.  And this gave Him great pleasure." Ephesians 1: 5

When I look deep into Max's brown little almond eyes there is a love for him that goes deep within my heart and soul! I had no idea the journey God would take my heart on as we journeyed to our sweet son.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Happy Gotcha Day

It is hard to believe that one year ago today we stood anxiously by our hotel elevator jumping at every beep as we waited to see and hold Max for the first time.

(You will want to pause the music on the side bar when you play the videos)

As I watch this video it seems so surreal that we stood and watched our little boy walk off the elevator with a director from the orphanage.  I remember feeling overwhelmed how precious he was.  It all happened so fast.  After a few questions were answered the director left and there we stood with our little boy, he was forever ours. 

It was so overwhelming for both of us as we held him for the first time. We both fell in love with him instantly.  I still can hear Eric's voice saying, "Oh my goodness, he is perfect!" Yes, he was perfect but little did we know just how perfectly he would fit into our family.

We have watched a little boy with sad, hollow eyes transform right before our very eyes.  

The sparkle in his eye, the dimple on his cheek and his love for life continue to grow.

We have experience so many first with Max this year.  There have been special days, holidays, milestones, but there have also been hugs, playing in leaves, swinging at the park and touching the grass.  A whole new life and world was at Max's fingertips this past year.  We have stood with anticipation as we watched Max experience the world and life with a family for the first time.  He soaks every ounce out of life and embraced it with every piece of him.  

He is not just a happy little boy, he is a boy that is FULL of joy!

There are so many times Eric and I have sat and watched our son and stood in awe.  How in the world can a little boy that never set foot out of an orphanage, laid on a red mat in a red room with out any toys day after day for 17 months, just had his basic needs met, did not get a lot of love or attention ... come out of that environment with a love for life and a joy that is infectious.  Others are draw to him because of the joy he exudes.  I often get asked if he ever stops smiling.  No, he rarely stops.  I know God held our little boy, guarded his mind and protected his spirit until he was in our arms.

Max has moved right into our family with ease.  His sisters and brother love him to pieces.  There is no doubt God's hand placed this little boy to fit perfectly into our family.

So today we celebrated Max's Gotcha Day.  A day we will never forget.  A day that changed his and our life.  We broke out the chopsticks and enjoyed a meal around our table together.

We finished the night at one of Max's favorite places ... Cherry Berry.  He ran in yelling "ICE CREAM" and also ran up to everyone in Cherry Berry yelling"HI!"  We can't help but smile at how much life is in this little boy.

This video is a glimpse into Max's first year home! It pretty much sums up how perfectly he fits into our family and the joy he brings! 

Happy Gotcha Day Max! 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

God's Plan

As I tucked my girls in bed the other night Emma began asking questions about Max's mom and dad.  She wondered if he had any brothers and sisters that they couldn't keep either.  All those questions are so hard and break this mommy's heart.  I tried to explain to the girls why kids in China are left at places like the train station.  I have no answers and I won't pretend that I do.  I know someday those will be the questions that Max will have and I am sure through tears I will share some of the same things.  The one thing I do know is that God loves our sweet boy and has plan for his life.  I have seen God's hand in Max life from the very beginning of our journey to him.  His little life represents so much to me on my journey of life.  I pray that someday Max will know Jesus as his personal Savior and will be able to rest in knowing that God has a perfect plan for his life even if there are unanswered questions.

There are so many things I don't know or don't have answers for but there are also things that I do know.  As we have recorded our journey to Max I pray that he will see God's hand in bringing him into our family and the perfect fit that he is.  I pray that he will know that a mom an ocean away loved him enough to make a hard decision that gave him a chance at life. I pray that he will know that this mommy has fallen head over heals in love with him.  I also pray that he will know when he was an ocean away he was touching lives and changing hearts.  God was working through him before he even knew who God was.

That brings me to this sweet family.  When we were in China I got a comment on my blog from a mom who had found our blog and followed our journey to Max.  Just like Andrew spoke to our heart Max did the same thing to this family.  The started the adoption process to bring a little boy home.  Today it is with great joy that I get to introduce you to sweet Hudson.

In just a few weeks his mom and dad will travel to China to bring him home.  The other day Hudson's mom sent me this email and wanted to record part of it for Max some day ...

Congratulations on Max's 1 year anniversary.  He will always have a special place in our hearts.  When he gets older, you will have to tell him how God was using him before he even knew who God was.  :o)  His precious little life has forever changed our lives.

 Soon I will turn this blog into a book for Max.  I want him to know the way God has worked in and through his little life.  I can't wait to see what God has in store for our bundle of energy!

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Surprise In My Inbox

Today there was a fun surprise in my in box.  At first I thought it was spam when I saw the chinese writing ... then I saw Zhida and I knew it was from China.  It was Max's orphanage checking in to see how he was doing and asking for pictures.  We gave them our email when we visited but didn't know if they would follow through.  It will be fun to be able to stay in contact with them.  I sent a little note that google translator helped me translate to Chinese and some pictures of our sweet boy.  They wouldn't know Zhida back. I can't wait to hear back from them! 

Dear ,
    Happy new year.
    In China, the most important festival-Spring Festival is coming! Rich blessings for health and longevity is my special wish for you in the coming year .We hope Zhida can take to you happiness after the kid joins your family, in this period, if you would like, we hope to see the pictures of the kid and your families so that we can know about his life status.
    We appreciate very much for your love and support! Look forward to hearing about the news of kids often from you! And always bless for you all!

Jinan Social Welfare Institution

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