Friday, May 30, 2014


Since our first Gotcha Day, May 28th, 2006 at 7:01pm China Time, I have been asked what is GOTCHA? Why do you celebrate Gotcha Day? You can honestly ask any mother in most countries around the world when they gave birth to their child and they can tell you.  Many parents that put a child up for adoption could probably even tell you everything there was to know about that day.  For families that adopt and are not present at their child's birth, GOTCHA DAY is the day their child was born in their family.  For families that travel to see their child many times before they get custody it is the finality of it all and for those who just have a picture to look at for 9 months to a year it is the first time we get to hold our little one in our arms.  It is the end of a strenuous process and the beginning of a new life, a new family with someone new.  It is a new day for everyone and it is something to behold.  It is so hard to imagine or explain what it was like.  It is like every emotion you have ever had in your life rolled up into one day, one 24 hour period and honestly you are never the same. Never ever the same.
The birth of our oldest changed me forever and her brother's death made it a weird day for us. We had true sadness with utter joy at the same time and it was not like any feeling I had ever had in my life.  I was lost in grief and I would see AG and I would be found honestly.  God gave me love in my grief.  The adoption experience was totally different.
We arrived in China on Saturday, May 28th, 2006 at 1:30am.  Our flight had been delayed by 3 hours in Nakarita, Japan.  Our guide had waited at the airport for hours on us.  AG was starving and we were like zombies.  I had stayed up for 36 hours straight packing.  I could not sleep on the plane because I was paranoid something might happen.  This time I plan to pray the rosary up to the day we leave so I can sleep on the plane.  Now we all know that sleep is important before you get to China because you get very little in China.  We ate in the middle of the night and then our guide took us to our hotel to sleep for a few hours before we traveled to Xi'an later that day.  We were supposed to arrive in China around 10pm instead of 1:30am, so our time at the hotel ended up being brief.  I tried to sleep, but I was just  swimming in emotions and what it was going to be like.  Mainly I was hyper excited.  We had waited six long months to get our daughter and now it was happening and I just was overjoyed and scarred at the same time.  We woke up around 8am for our buffet breakfast.  We went to the dinning area and there was this huge terrarium.  Literally, it was huge.  AG was amazed and could barely eat.  At one point I had to take her right over to it because there was a giant slug climbing up the wall.  I am always amazed by nature and this thing was like the size of a toilet paper tube. It really was enormous and I wanted to see it too.  We got through breakfast and packed our things back into the suitcases.  Our guide showed up and took half our luggage to store while we were in Xi'an.  We would be back in a week.  He took us to the airport and we were on a plane at 4:00.  AG of course was loving it.  She loved the plane rides and this was going to be really fun because it was short.  We finally got to see China from a plane because it was night time when got their hours earlier.  It was absolutely breathe taking.  Just amazing.  The rice patties and the fields and the mountains in every color you can imagine.  Just amazing.  My eyes were amazed at what God and man together had created.  Just beautiful.  We landed in Xi'an around 6:00pm. As we made our way through the airport our guide informed us that she had been in contact with the orphanage and they knew we were indeed in Xi'an.  I guess she called them as we were getting our luggage.  When we got in the van she told us that we would have Flo that night.  I then went from excitement to being scared to being overjoyed to being overwhelmed.  Our family would change forever in a matter of hours.  We got to the hotel and checked in.  We made our way to the room and I put AG in the tub because we were all icky from the plane ride and just the weather in Guangzhou makes you feel icky- HOT and HUMID in May and June.  As soon as I put her clothes on she went to sleep on the bed.  It had been a long two days for an almost 5 year old.  We left Friday and it was now Sunday and she wanted her day back.  She never did get that day back.  She looked for it and never found it.  So with a day missing and us getting in so late, the little missy was pooped out.  As we both were preparing for who was going to take the next shower our phone rang.  Flo was in the lobby and they were bringing her up.  No showers for the adults this was it.  We got out some toys and the video camera and the camera.  We had everything on standby and just as they were coming down the hall we remembered we still had AG asleep on the bed.  We had to wake her up so she could meet her sister.

I will never forget it.  She came in the door in her red halter top and her too small sandals and bicycle shorts.  She was terrified and curious at the same time.  She was so, so, so tiny.  I just wanted to grab her and touch her and hug her, but every book we read said let them warm up to you.  So, we had a few toys on the table and we just looked at her in amazement.  We were in awe at that moment of where we were and where God had brought us.  We were simply in awe.  She was there and she was healthy and she was beautiful.  She watched AG and she started coming closer to the coffee table where we were and she started playing and I could smell her and I was breathing the same air and I was amazed by this gift God had given us.  I just wanted to look at her and count her fingers and her toes.  I just wanted to look at the blessing God was handing over to us.  I just wanted to be within arms reach of her because a picture is what I had fallen in love with six months before and today I was falling in love with a child, a beautiful child.  I can't describe the emotions I felt, I just can't.  I started mumbling questions to the director because he brought her and I had memorized those questions on the plane.  I had read them over a million times in my head and to this day I am still amazed that I remembered any of them at that moment in time.
As the hour grew on, the Ayi (nanny), guide, and director realized the hand off had to happen and it had to happen soon.  They had to get back to the pink castle, to the actual orphans because our little girl lost that status the minute she walked in that room.  Her orphans days were now over and our family of 3 days were gone forever.  At this point we had to get on with the rest of our lives as a family of four.  We had to get to the reality of having a toddler again.  We had to grieve.  No one prepares an adoptive parent for the grieving their child will go through,  just like no one prepared us for the death of our son.  She cried and I cried with her.  It was sad and painful and just horribly sad.  She was left with strangers to raise her forever.  She was grieving the only life she had ever known and I was grieving it with her.  We both basically cried ourselves to sleep.  Some milk and some goldfish helped, but we still whimpered until we fell asleep.  It was hard and those next two weeks were hard as well, but 8 years later we are a family.
Every year this week we celebrate those early family labor pains and we celebrate the joy of that special day and we celebrate us being a family.  We are so excited to get another GOTCHA this fall.  The idea of having another week to celebrate family and us becoming a family of six is exciting to us.  We can not wait to breathe the air our sons are breathing, to be in arms reach, to hold, to hug, and to love our boys forever.  I know somewhere right now they are both going down for a nap.  There guardian angels will have to kiss them goodnight for me.  They will have to protect them and pray over them until we can get there for the Big GOTCHA DAY!
Why do we celebrate Gotcha Day? Because it is one of our best days every single year!
Last year we spent it at the beach and this year we spent it holding fishing poles.  It does not matter where we are because we always spend it enjoying being a family. Gotcha days are about being a family.  They are a celebration of family.  Thank you Lord for these 8 Gotcha Days and we can't wait for many, many more.



Saturday, May 10, 2014

This Mother's Day I am GRATEFUL!!!!

Motherhood has never been an easy road in our family.  God chooses our pathway to motherhood and sometimes it is a very hard road and sometimes it is an easy road.  We watched  a few episodes of the Duggars tonight.

Side Note-I just could not get my youngest to get into KnightRider for some reason.  If nothing else I thought she would love Kitt the car.  No such luck.  I am so loving NetFlix. I saw Shawn Cassidy the other night in Nancy Drew and the Hardy boys.  AWESOME!  AG said so lame mom! Definitely not Sherlock!

andSo anyway back to the Duggars.  I am looking at this mother of 19 children.  She is a very gentle soul.  She takes time to discipline her children but in the gentlest way and I am always so impressed in how she never, ever just looses it.  She has had 19 children.  Each one she has given birth to and I am just thinking Lord how is that I struggled and struggled and struggled and this woman just has kids, but if I had been able to have children just like her I would not have experienced the wonderful world of adoption.  I would not have met the families I know and I would not have the beautiful children I have.  I would not have the compassion  and empathy I do for parents that have lost children and I certainly would not know about the 153 million orphans in the world today.  

Many people ask how, how are there so many?  There are 153 million and counting today because people can not feed their children or parents have passed away due to illness or accidents or they simply can only have one child.  There are orphanages and foster homes around the world full of children that have no mother to decorate or draw or purchase cards for this day.  They are all alone in the world. They are hungry, and tired, and possibly ill and they are alone.  But there are nannies and caregivers!  Yes, but there are hundreds of children and few caregivers.  So, 7 children, 10 children, 15 children alone in a room and one wakes up crying and three wake up crying and in the next room there are 4 babies crying and the next one has a 7 year old sick. There are 2 nannies.  Who cries themselves to back to sleep?  Which one gets the nanny? The sick one, the wet baby, the hungry baby, the colicky baby?  Which one gets the attention?  The nanny has to decide, but out of the 9 children only one or two will get attention tonight.  So, the others have no one to help them.  REALITY stinks!  It totally stinks!  And each person that thinks I am a great Momma to do this we are just building our family, but thousands of children wait.  We are following the path that God is leading us on and we hope that others will follow behind us.  Adoption is a gift from one mom to another.

I want to not only be grateful this Mother's Day for my wonderful Momma and my Sis, the Godmother of my children, but for the 3 Moms in China that gave up their children for different circumstances.  Each one had a choice to make.  Abortion may have been an option, but instead they chose something different.  They chose to leave their child in a very public place where they knew someone would find their child and take them to a safe place where they could thrive long enough for me to be their Momma.  Thank you beautiful Asian Moms for your gifts to me.  I am so blessed by our sweet girl and I know that my boys are going to bring wonderful joy to our family.  I am just overwhelmed this Mother's Day by these gifts.

I also am grateful for the day our sweet AG was born.  Although a hard day, it would have been so much harder if I had not had her sweet face next to me.  

"Lord I pray for the mommas on our hospital hall that day that went home empty handed.  I too left the hospital with one baby instead of two, but I took home a sweet and healthy baby and they did not.  This Mother's Day will be painful for them and I pray LORD that you will bring them comfort and comfort to all mothers that have suffered the loss of a child.  Lord thank you for all of my blessings this Mother's Day!"


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Home Schooling Momma

In just one week I will have successfully home schooled my children for an entire school year.  It was hard.  It was tiring, but soooooooooooooo worth it.  I have learned so much about my kids.  So much more than I did a year ago.  They are both amazing girls.  I am so completely blessed.  Just completely and totally blessed.  Some days I was just amazed by there brains.  Some days I wanted to pull my hair out, but most days I was just happy to be with them.  I will say that I cheated a little.  We did a home school hybrid. So we went to an actual building for tutoring 2 days per week and worked at home the rest of the time.  I highly recommend this for new home schooling parents.  It gave us so many things, including structure, curriculum guides, and some social time.  We all enjoyed making new friends and having a support system as we weighed through it all. No regrets at all.  Just love it. And we will be doing it again in the fall with our preschool crew.  I am already dreaming about preschool fun.  Flo may have to be my assistant in all of that.  She loves getting dirty and playing with preschool brothers will make it even better!  My girls have no idea that they will be doing reading logs after next week and some time with the math tutor over the summer.  I won't share that until we get out next week.  I want to thank the LORD for helping me and giving me the strength to get through the really hard days!  I also want to thank Him for the grace to enjoy the really great days!

Proverbs 22:6

New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)
Train children in the right way,
    and when old, they will not stray.