Friday, June 29, 2012

Now for a Middle Name

With our first name decision resolved because we trained ourselves to think of this child as Claire during all the months of waiting...and waiting...and waiting, we need to think about the rest of the name.

Last name is easy.  Dang means she belongs to the state. It has to go. Robinson means she belongs to us.It is here to stay for a very long time.

So, that leaves the middle name.
And, that requires a short story.

Ana and Jenny came from very difficult pasts and hard, hard places.  They brought much of their pain into our family.  There were so many days when I cried out to God in desperation, pleading with Him to bring healing and restoration.  There were days when I simply cried out in exhaustion, asking Him to make it end.

He always reassured me with Psalm 30:5.    Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.

When we were praying about adopting again, God kept reminding me that joy comes in the morning.

We moved forward with this adoption trusting that God knows what He is doing.

Once our homestudy was finished and preliminary paperwork completed, we could ask for information about Claire.  It was then that we learned her legal name:  Kai chen.   It means a clear morning.  Probably it signifies that she was discovered in the morning of a bright, clear day.   To me, it is a promise.  Not a promise that there will be no pain associated with this adoption. I know better than that.  No, it is a promise that tells me not to be afraid to risk entering into the painful places in obedience to God's plan. It is a promise that He will bring joy as we walk forward in faithful obedience to all He asks.

So, Kaichen is a name we will keep.  It is a name full of hope and promise.  It is a name that feels like confirmation of our desire to follow God.  It is a name that feels like a smile from my heavenly Father.

What name?

Parents name their babies.

But, what do you do when you get a child who has already celebrated her 8th birthday? 

Do you keep the name she has grown up with?  Do you take away what may be the only thing she has  and replace it with something new?

It is a tough decision.

Some feel a new name helps a child make a new start as part of a family, no longer an orphan. God often renamed  people to denote a significant life change.

Others want to guard the child's heritage, or identity, or connection to the birth parents who once named them.

Until recently, orphans in China were given a surname indicating that they belonged to the state or the party.
The name identified the child as an orphan. You can read more about this at the link below:

China changing naming policy

Orphanages sometimes name children after the street or district where they are found.  Others choose a name that expresses what they hope the child might become. Some name the child after the weather on the day he or she is found.

For nearly two years, we have know Claire by the name given to her at New Day.  It is a name used on the website where her real identity must be protected.   It is a name foreigners use for her, but not the name her Chinese caretakers use.

We considered changing it, but found that we have become accustomed to thinking of her as Claire.  And we rather like the name.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A New Dress

Claire was so excited to finally receive the package she was expecting.  Everyone who has a family receives a package, you know.

Better try on the new dress right away.

Do you think I'm beautiful?

Absolutely gorgeous!

A little bird told me that this dress was worn for several days in a row before Claire would change.  Maybe I should get busy and sew another one to send.  :-)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Awkward and Uncomfortable

 Tonight was our second Skype "visit" with Claire.   Last week was uncomfortable because we had no idea what to expect.  But, there were 4 of us.  So when one of us couldn't think of anything to do or say, another person could.  It was okay.  It was sweet.  She adored her "baba" and asked to see her "ge ge." She was happy to see us even though shy about talking.
Tonight Kelly was out of town, Ben was busy with school, and Dan was out with friends. It was just me in front of the computer.  Claire was not very happy to have "just mama" tonight.  
That is okay. Really it is.   The menfolk in this family are all much more creative and entertaining than I am.  I do better with quiet stories and songs sung softly to sleepy children in the rocking chair.  But I can't hug, or rock, or even manage to read a story over Skype.  The language thing is difficult, but so is the distraction of the technology.   
And so is the distraction of my own fears.  It has been more than ten years but my heart still feels the pain of Tatiana's hatred toward me.   From our first moments together she was extremely loving toward her Dad, but passive aggressive in her responses to me.   She scratched me, stomped on my feet, and made horrid faces at me when no one was looking.  Later, when she could talk, she did everything she could to turn Kelly against me.  She was more successful  than I care to admit, before we figured out what she was doing.  She actually told me that her plan was to force me to move out of the house.
I thought I'd worked through most of my feelings from those difficult years.  For months, as I argued with God, telling Him all the reasons I could never adopt again, He kept assuring me that I could and that it was His plan.  I though it was behind me.
But tonight, when Claire wanted her dad and brothers, a great wave of that old fear crashed over me. My head knows this isn't the same.  My head knows God has chosen us to be Claire's parents.  So tonight, I pray that God will take my emotions captive and help me remember that what is behind is past and what is to come is His plan.
A friend posted a verse on Facebook tonight. It was the perfect reminder that God is always perfectly good, no matter how things may appear at any given moment in time.
"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." -Jeremiah (Jer. 29:11)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

First Impressions

We got to Skype with Claire Kaichen for the first time tonight.  (Thank you, Hannah, for translating.)

Seeing her wiggle and squirm, watching her expressions, and hearing her voice are all so much better than a still photo.  These are full of life, and joy!

She was so excited to see us and announce that we were her baba and mama. 

She declared that she REALLY likes her baba.  I think he may be smitten.

She said her mama is pretty.   What can I say?  Flattery will get her everywhere. 

When she couldn't see the boys, she asked why her brothers were missing.  She knew they were supposed to be part of the family because of the one picture we emailed to her.  Kelly got them and she responded with joyous hellos to her "ge ge."

Ben's beard made her laugh.   When we told her Dan likes to make music, she decided she wants to study piano. The boys declared her cute and adorable.  It is difficult not to be charmed by someone so excited to see you.

Pre school snack time occurred during our visit. Her snack was delivered and we got to watch her enjoy her crackers and watermelon.  I asked her what she likes to eat and her response was, "Snacks!" 

Guess she will fit into this family pretty well.  We like food of every variety.

When pressed, she did tell us cookies and chocolate were at the top of her list.  She even managed those words in English!

She had a few parting English words for us tonight.  "I love you." 

Oh, we love you, too, Claire Kaichen.  


Monday, June 18, 2012

Miracles Continue

I breathed a quiet prayer.  "Is she my little girl?  God if she is ours, I'm willing. Is she?"

She was six years old.  Older than we said we were interested in.  But God wouldn't let us put her out of our minds.

We started our homestudy and got the paperwork moving.  Claire's sweet smile was our motivation.

Then, when we finally reached the stage where we could ask our adoption agency to inquire about Claire's real name so that her adoption file could be located, we discovered the need for another miracle.

Claire had no adoption file.

Her SWI was convinced that she would not live.  They didn't put her paperwork together.  Once she did live, they were convinced that she was too old, too sick, too delayed to be adopted.  She is "unadoptable" we were told.  (Even though Claire is living at New Day Foster Home, the SWI is her guardian and controls all decisions pertaining to her life.)

Had they told us that another family was already in process of adopting her, we would have moved on to another of the hundreds of waiting kiddos.  But the thought of her waiting, and waiting with out ever having the opportunity to be in a family was just not acceptable.   We asked what we could do.  We wrote a letter asking the director of the SWI to put her adoption file together and promising to adopt her if they did.

Then we waited.

When we finally got news, it wasn't good.  The police officer who found her did not sign the abandonment papers.  He could not be found. Without that signature, she could not be adopted.

We prayed. We asked everyone we knew to pray.  We prayed some more.

After three weeks, we were informed that the paperwork was again "in process."

Not possible, but happening.  She was supposed to die, but she didn't.  She was unadoptable, but we are now officially matched with her as her family. Yes, miracles happen.  I can't wait to see what comes next!

Miracles Happen

We got LOA today!   That is our Letter of Acceptance.  It is the point where we switch from trying to prove we can be Claire's parents to working on immigration and travel documents.  It is an important day that has been a long time coming.   We've been told that LOA normally comes somewhere around 70 days after LID (Log in Date.)  For us, that stretched to 138 days of waiting!  Even though we understand why our process has been long, the wait has not been fun.

I posted  about our LOA on one of the adoption lists today and a lady I don't know emailed with a little advice about filling out immigration paperwork and how to apply for visas.  She ended her email by saying, "Miracles happen."

If she only knew.

Claire's life is a miracle. 
Read her story by clicking here.

For us to be adopting her is also a miracle.
We were so done with adoption.  We love Ana and Jenny, but more than 10 years of struggling to overcome the hard places of their past had left us exhausted and sad.  Even though they had moved out, they were still managing to create  emotional upheaval every time we had contact. We were not interested in even thinking about adoption again.


Pinelake started their "Outlive Your Life" initiative.   It was about lots of things, but for some reason every discussion of adoption pierced my heart.  I argued with God.  No way!  I've been there, done that.  It was NOT good!  You can't ask me to do this again....can you?

Eventually, God won the argument and we were thinking about adoption again.  I was looking at some of the waiting children, but nothing was motivating us to start the homestudy process.

Then, I went to China with Ben  Even though I was afraid before we left, it turned out to be an amazing trip. 

A couple months after being home, I got a call from one of the missions pastors.  He had some ladies who were headed to China on a medical mission trip and they were nervous.  He wondered if I would talk to them.  I did what I could to reassure them. And, I asked about where they were going. That was the very first time I ever heard of New Day Foster Home. 

When I searched their website, I clicked on their children.  On a page with lots of children, her face caused me to catch my breath.  New Day's Kids

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

See My Family

Just like the asterisk can indicate missing parts of a whole, our story isn't all here. Most of it is still missing.  It took a long process to reach this day, and there is still much that lies ahead. Many pieces of the story should be explained in order to make a cohesive whole.  (I hope to fill in some of the pieces bit by bit, eventually.)

But in this moment, the day stands alone in being special.  It is the day Claire, who has been asking again and again about her family, was told that they have been found.

I can't imagine what she is thinking.
I don't know what "family" means in her mind.

I do know that God is amazing and good and that He has orchestrated this match.
I am humbled by the privilege of becoming Claire's mama.

The Miracle of the Asterisk

Definition of ASTERISK
: the character * used in printing or writing as a reference mark, as an indication of the omission of letters or words, to denote a hypothetical or unattested linguistic form, or for various arbitrary meanings 
                                                                          ~According to
Just a tiny symbol with ambiguous meaning.
This tiny symbol, this asterisk, is used next to the picture of children at New Day Foster Home who have been matched with an adoptive family.  It represents an amazing hope for the future.  It's also indicative of a  miraculous story of God bringing people together in ways we may never quite understand.

Just a tiny  asterisk,

               representing an amazing story!