Sunday, October 16, 2011

Three Years with Isaac

Here we are celebrating three years as a Forever Family on Friday, October 14th. It's hard to believe that three years ago we found ourselves in China having just become parents to the most amazing little boy in the world. It's hard to describe the changes we experienced and the depth of love I feel for my son. I know some people claim that they could never love a child that wasn't "their own." I think they feel as if they are praising me for my "selflessness" and my "ability to love" but in reality I find that comment to be so... so... so limiting to their belief in the power of love. I find it to be insulting to the power of love and to children everywhere who are in need of people to open their hearts to love a child in need of a family. I do not think it would be possible to love either of my children more deeply than I already do, even if they had been born of my body. So this weekend we celebrate three years with an amazing little guy who has taught us so much about love.
Shortly after submitting our paperwork to adopt a child in August of 2006 we learned about the special needs program, but at the time we kept being turned down because many, many families were also requesting to adopt these waiting children. The lists were competitive and it was heartbreaking not to be chosen. Finally we stopped requesting to be chosen. We stopped for several reasons really. 1) It was too painful to receive the call that said, "We're sorry, but we selected another family to parent the child or children you requested a match with." 2) After a while, our paperwork had been logged in so long, that well, we weren't even going to be considered. And 3) Well, we figured a waiting child wasn't God's will for us.

But something amazing happened in the spring of 2008, China changed their rules affecting the waiting child program. Instead of many, many families looking at the children and the agencies having to choose only one family for the child, only one family was allowed to view a particular child's information at a time. Instead of competing against other families, we would be the one and only family who would be able to decide on the child. And if we felt that the child was to be our child, then that was it. No one else could view the child's file, the file would be locked. So we watched and waited for a while to see how that progress would go, and at the end of July just a few days after we sent our paperwork for the new program we got "The Call" that would change our lives.
So today instead of haunting some of the rumor sites to see when our log in date will come in with my arms still longing for a child, my heart is full and I have celebrated 1098 days as a Mama! With a minimum of three hugs a day, that's 6588 hugs in in the past years and at least 6588 kisses! Of course on most days I average way more than 3 hugs and kisses. Then to make things even more intoxicating, we added a beautiful daughter 9 months ago today so that is another 274 days with my sweet girl and another 822 hugs and 822 kisses if all I got were three a day, and I must confess I've gotten way more than my three a day quota as I've sat here typing this blog post, and to be honest I've always gotten more than three a day! :o)

So, where is China now? Well as of September 29, 2011 The CCAA has finished matching families with children who were logged into their system as of July 28 2006, some families have waited 62 1/2 months to recieve thier referral, while still other families logged in for the month of July will wait at least another month.. There still 32 days ahead of our log in date. Amazingly it will have "only" taken the CCAA five months to match the month of July 2006, earlier months have seen it take up to 9 months as it did for November 2005 and March 2006. Why the speed up now? I'm curious. I know many families like ours have moved on to other avenues like China's Waiting Child Program, while sadly other families gave up the hope of becoming a forever family to a child from China. I don't know that we'll ever know how many families took the wait as a sign of a closed door instead of a segway to another opportunity. I do know that many families still wait and our prayers are with those families. As we get closer to the date when our original log in date would have come up, I wish that I would have stayed part of the groups I had joined of families from August 2006. I wonder how many of them will celebrate in the coming months and how many, like us celebrate each day.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Celebrating Three Months

OK - the spacing went a little crazy and I can't fix it, but other than that, enjoy the update. Three months ago I walked into the civil affairs office of Fuzhou City in Fujian Province, China with my mother, my son, and a beautiful little girl who was about to become my daughter in the eyes of the People's Republic of China. She had become my daughter in my heart over a year ago when we submitted our paperwork to begin our second adoption and when I first saw her adorable face in August, well I imagine that feeling is similar to what a biological mother would feel when she first heard her child's heartbeat, or saw her child moving around on a sonogram screen, or felt the first flutters as the baby moved around in her womb. But that day, January 17, 2011 Liu Rong Jie became Aryn Rachel Liu Rong-Jie Stopyra and my daughter. What God had ordained in the heavenlies became recognized by the world as I promised to care for her and to never abandon her.

Seeing Daddy was love at first sight. Now that we've been home for a while I was shocked to discover that we were at our three month anniversary as Rachel's parents. It seems like she has been with us for so much longer that at times we have to remind ourselves that really she has been with us such a brief time. Her little personality is really coming out and the funny thing is that she is more quiet just like Daddy. Isaac is more like his Mama. Who other than God would know that when we gave Isaac the name Li after my Lea that he would favor my personality and that Rachel's Aryn after Daddy's Aaron would show her personality emerging to be more like his.

Bedtime definately HAD to be revisited because before Rachel came home Isaac was milking the bedtime ritual for an hour and a half some nights. Now we have milk and quiet time on the couch before settling down for the night. We'll read, chat about our day and pray. Then we take turns putting our blessings to bed. What was taking forever is now usually accomplished in about thirty minutes. Wow! What a miracle!! The best thing is that Rachel has adjusted to bedtime MUCH better than Isaac did. At three months she has been sleeping through the night for a while and it took Isaac almost two years to accomplish this feat. Of course, their situations before coming to our family were very different and I had some good advice for working with Rachel to help her adjust. God is so good!!

I love this picture! Playing peek-a-book with the cupboards. They generally get along very well and I would say that we are blessed!! Of course like all siblings there are times that well, aren't so picture worthy.

On February 21st Isaac had to go to the hospital to recieve a 2nd set of ear tubes. These are supposed to last a while. Poor guy gets ear infections all the time! I never knew what a high pain tolerance this boy has until Rachel developed an ear-infection. I am amazed at his tolerance and it breaks my heart to think that his time in China probably contributed to this because it is my understanding that they do not administer pain medication after surgery and he had his lip revision surgery in China. His ears were a MESS when he came home to us and I am sure that he had some monster ear-infections before he came to us. When we had his hearing tested prior to receiving his first set of tubes he was practically deaf. Afterwards his hearing was much improved! Now that he is older they were able to get a more accurate test by using headphones and blocks. Isaac's hearing is fantastic. YEAH GOD!!!

Laughter is the best medicine! I love the sound of the laughter that fills my home!

Story time with Daddy.

Isaac still loves his trains! Right now Mama can not wait for this season to end, but one day I will look back on all of the train pictures fondly and forget the agony Isaac went through as he tried to build tracks in the air like the monerail at Disney. Who knows, I may be raising a future engineer! This kid is very creative! (The green train and the red train at the right side of the picture are being used to raise the tracks up in the air.)

On January 15th I sent a frantic e-mail to Craig and asked you all for prayer because we had learned that Rachel was afraid of dogs and dolls. So poor Pepper was relegated to our room and the doll that I worked so hard to find took up residence in the hall closet. Shortly after coming home she learned to tolerate the dog and after she started day-care about a month later she learned to love dolls. Here she is getting ready to feed her baby.

I wanted to have Rachel dedicated to the LORD on our first Sunday back in the states, but I thought it would be too much and what if we were unable to make it to church and they had planned for us to be there. We had Aryn Rachel dedicated to the LORD on her birthday weekend. My Aunt Hubba was in town so it was great that she was able to be a part of this special ceremony. Rachel wore the dress her foster family had picked out for her when she met us. She likes to pick her clothes so I presented her with two outfits and was greatly pleased when she chose the outfit that they had chosen for her. To me it made it seem like the people who had spend so much of her life with her were there with us to celebrate this special day.

Happy Birthday sweet Rachel! We love you!!! Last year Rachel was not able to celebrate her birthday in the orphanage. This year she celebrated three times to make up for lost time! She celebrated with her friends at daycare on the day and with Mama, Daddy, and Isaac that evening. On Sunday we celebrated with family.

Here she is having a tea party with her Daddy with one of her favorite gifts. A tea-set from Aunt Hubba. I remember Zoe had a similar tea-set at her age and totally loved it. So did my cousin's daugther Brianna.

Finally, Isaac gets to go see Mickey Mouse again. Before leaving to meet Rachel Isaac kept bugging us to go to Mickey Mouse House. We kept telling him that he had to wait because Mickey Mouse wanted to meet his sister. The first thing he said after Rachel stopped crying and things settled down on the evening we met her is, "We go Mickey Mouse?" Not yet... So the poor kid was just waiting and waiting to go back to Disney. Finally we got to go during Spring Break!!

It was so crowded that we hardly got to go on any rides and we waited for over thirty minutes to ride the tea-cups! If I had had to pay to go to the park I would have been very upset, but thank you LORD that Daddy works for Mickey and we are able to go for free! What a blessing!


Isaac loves "diggers" almost as much as he loves trains. What a joyful day when we discovered a digger outside of the restaurant the other night.

Fun at the park!

After the park we decided it was definately past time to mow the lawn. Our neighbors have already mowed a few times, but this was the first of the season. Isaac loves to help. He has a servants heart and I just love my boy. Last night he helped Daddy mow the lawn. This was so priceless!!

So precious! She wanted to help but you can see the look of love on her face. She loves her brother. She loves her Daddy. Rachel had fun watching them mow the lawn. I need to figure out how to get pictures of Rachel & Mama. We were pulling weeds and trees so that the boys could mow, but there is no evidence of that... Who knew that mowing the lawn could be family fun?

I know!! I need to blog more often so it's not such a lengthy post with zillions of photos. I am trying to get better, but time flies!

God, You are so good! I look back over the photos of the past three months and I think of all You have accomplished. You are amazing! We went to have an echo-cardiogram on Rachel's heart the first day of spring break. The doctor said that her heart looks amazing! She originally said she didn't want to see us for three years. "Three years?!" I was shocked, in a surprised, this is great sort of way, but I guess I sounded worried, because she quickly ammended, "Ok, two years." Some children with repaired VSD still have a leakage and require antibiotics prior to dental treatment and other things, but her cardiologists said that things are great. She said absolutely no restrictions. Yeah God!!!

Isaac is doing great in speech at school. He has progressed so much. I know that He has a way to go, but wow!! God opened the door where he can receive speech every day through the school system. And the school is wonderful and his teacher is fantastic!! We are blessed because he will be with her next year as well.

I'm sure I could go on, but I'll try to do another blog and I need something to write about. If I put it all down in writing now, it will be a long time before I come back. So good night.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

And now there are four...

I apologize for leaving you all in China for the past six weeks! We arrived home around 8:30 the night of January 28th. The next few days and weeks were an absolute whirlwind as we adjusted (and truly, are still adjusting) to our new family dynamics.

For now we are calling our beautiful daughter "Rachel." Because of his cleft Isaac has difficulty with certain sounds and the "r" sound is one of them. Try as he might, the poor guy can not say Aryn. He was calling her "Sissie" which I do not like at all! I know it's southern and it's cutesy for some, but to me I don't like it and can not have my child called "Sissie" so I told Isaac that he could choose what we will call his new sister. "'Achel! We call her 'Achel" So now at times, I will forget or at times I want to use Aryn because I think it's beautiful and Isaac will say, "Mama!" in an exasperated tone, "We call her 'Achel." "Oh yes!" I say, "I forgot, Rachel."

She likes both names. A lot of friends still call her Aryn, others like us, call her Rachel, and some of my poor friends were simply confused and thought they didn't hear us with the name or that they had been left out of the loop. I asked her "Do you like Mama to call you Aryn?" she nodded her head. "Do you like Mama to call you Rachel?" Again a head nod. Does she understand me? I think so? She knows English very well and when we go to the Chinese restaurant she responds to their Mandarin. I hope we can keep her language and build upon it. Right now she doesn't talk, she signs, but once she does speak I would like to enroll her in toddler Mandarin classes, that is, if there is such a thing.

Daddy meets Aryn Rachel. Isaac loves on Yeye!

First day home. Already Daddy's girl!

As we began our second adoption adventure we had friend's tell us that adding an extra child was not double the work, that it was multiplied. Some said triple and others went higher in their estimation. I thought they were crazy, I thought they were trying to scare me. I was wrong! Two may be more than double the work, but it is also more than double the love and double the hugs & kisses. When Isaac sees Rachel comes to give me a hug & kiss he can not be outdone and he will come to give me a hug and kiss as well. When one wants a snuggle the other wants a snuggle. Now some of that is simply jealousy rearing it's ugly head, but sometimes it is a game filled with love and affection. I simply love it when it is a game of love and laughter.

A new night time ritual. The whole family spends quality time together before bed. Yummy milk. A couple stories. Sharing the best part of our day. Prayers. Then off to bed for a good night's sleep.

I was able to stay home for four weeks after we came home due to my awesome mother's generosity and our employers leave policy. We are able to donate accrued sick leave to a family member if they are in need. I only had 8 days of leave saved up and mom donated another 15 days. What a generous gift! She can save these days for retirement, but she lovingly gave them to me so that I could spend time with my new family. She donated days when we came home with Isaac as well. I am very blessed. During this time I was able to do something I never thought I would get to do since I'm a teacher. I got to go to a special day at Isaac's school on Valentine's Day! It was such a blessing to surprise him at the special tea that they had.

Isaac's special crown. He loved it and wore it to the grocery store after the party.

Play time together. They love to hide in the cabinet!

On February 21st Isaac had to get new tubes in his ears. Poor little guy still gets continued ear infections. We are praying that as he gets older that the ear infections will not come. They are a side effect so to speak with cleft affected children, but we believe that God can deliver him. He did very well in the surgery and within 30 minutes of being released from the hospital you would have never known that he had been woozy and loopy just a short while before. They told us we could expect a quiet day, they were wrong...

A few weeks ago Yeye played his mandolin at church. Before church Isaac and Rachel joined him and the rest of the worship team on stage to dance and sing. I wish I had a picture with both of them nicely in it, but they were having so much fun I could not get them into the same shot!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Our Many Blessings: Tommy's most recent update-reposted from my FB pag...

Please pray for little Tommy. He is in need of a miracle. Check out this post from his mother Grace. Doctors were waiting for him to build up strength before going into surgery, but he needs the surgery NOW and he needs God's hand to help him through the surgery.

Our Many Blessings: Tommy's most recent update-reposted from my FB pag...: "As many of you know Tommy joined our family in Sept 2010. We knew he had a heart defect and it was most likely significant. We were however ..."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I received word a few minutes ago that a new copy with the correct spelling of Aryn Rachel's Chinese name has been issued.  What a quick answer to prayer.
I don't know where the pictures will appear and sadly I can only send two at a time.  These are from yesterdays visit to the Safari Park here in Guangzhou.  The kids and mom & I all had a fantastic time.  Today Isaac wanted to go back and was sad when I told him that we couldn't.
We're doing OK and can not wait to set foot into Orlando's lovely humid weather upon our return.  I can't wait to hug my husband, pet my dog, and sleep in my nice comfortable bed.  I miss home.  I don't remember being so homesick before.  I am so glad that Mom came on this trip.  I don't know how I would have made it through the stress of today without her.  All I can say is that I am so happy that this day is over and that we have received answers to our prayers and that a new I800 has been issued.  Thank you LORD!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Some Prayer Requests

Sorry, no pictures.  My computer battery is low and my nerves are frazzled.  We received word today that there is a problem with some of our documents.  We are doing everything we can but have to wait for the US Embassy to open in the United States tomorrow morning for you all (or tonight for me).  Today we are praying that everything can be handled quickly so that we are still able to receive Aryn's visa and leave to return home on Thursday evening. 
We didn't catch it.  We should have caught it and now when I look at the paper it just leaps out at me.  Aryn's Chinese last name is mispelled as Lui and it should be Liu.  It's such an easy typo and is causing a big problem.  They say it's happened before, but it hasn't happned to ME before and I am stressed.  I know that God is able and I am trusting in Him to help work things out. 

Last night I had a dream that there was a problem, perhaps God's way of preparing me.  At least I wasn't totally thrown when I got the call to come down to meet with our agency with my papers, God had prepared me in a little way.  Still I am in need of prayer.  I just want to go home.  I miss Craig and I miss my daily routine.
Isaac is doing great as far as becoming a big brother.  His ear is hurting him and I am coflicted about calling in a doctor.  The last time he told me that he ear was hurting we took him to the doctor and it was nothing.  $25 for a diagnosis of nothing is not a big deal, I mean it is, but realatively not really.  It would be much more expensive to get a diagnosis of nothing here in Guanzhou, China.  So pray that I will have wisdom.
Thanks for everything!,

Matthew 13:45-46 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.
When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

I am a PearlofGr8Value in God's eyes.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Midway Point (Fri 1/21)

Today we'll wait for the police to deliver Aryn Rachel's passport to the hotel.  I find it simply amazing that the police would hand deliver it and that we do not have to go to some government office to pick it up.  We were able to get a late check out and can stay in our room until about 1:30 which is nice since our flight is not until 6:45 tonight when we fly into Guangzhou.
If our passport comes early we will be able to visit Aryn's finding place which is a bus stop on the way to the airport.  I was sad to discover that she did not have a finding note with her.  I wonder how the doctors and officials decided that she was 5 months old when she is so tiny!!  I figured that there must have been a note.
My battery does not want to charge on the computer.  Please pray it will charge.  It is our link to home and without it we will not be able to Skype with Daddy at home. 

Somewhere within this you should see Isaac putting his new doctor kit to use on Aryn Rachel.  She was not a very cooperative patient for Isaac.  I hope she does better with the real doctors, but then again I think they may be more gentle with her. 

Matthew 13:45-46 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.
When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

I am a PearlofGr8Value in God's eyes.

Xichan Temple (Thursday, January 20th)

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Today we visited Xichan Temple in the suburbs of Fuzhou, a 20 minute ride from the hotel. It was amazing to find such a quiet, peaceful place in the middle of the city.

Isaac didn't like the idols and I thought we might have a major incident on our hands. He is very sensitive. The archetecture was amazing and it was very interesting. Since it troubled Isaac, in some ways I am sorry we went. In others I can see the draw so many people feel, and it gives me an understanding of how to pray. There are so many Buddhas, one must accept the one true, living God. It must be a difficult transition

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