It's so hard for me to believe that today marks one year since we stepped out in faith and said "YES" to adopt a little girl from China. I'll never forget June 22, 2012. I was very sad knowing that my mom had to be admitted to the inpatient hospice unit on that day...the cancer that had ravaged her body for so many years was taking its toll. Yet I was also thankful knowing that I would see her the next day since the kids and I were driving to Ohio for the week.
Then that night, Jason said we needed to talk. I thought he lost his job or that we had to move...but what came out of his mouth and heart shocked me! He proceeded to say that after a lot of wrestling with God, he knew he was ready for kid #4! After many months of me being quiet and only sharing my heart's desire to adopt with the Lord, I was stunned...and THRILLED! We cried, laughed, and prayed on June 22, 2012 as we embarked on a journey that we knew the Lord was leading us on...but had no idea what to expect!
One year later, so much has happened! I'm writing this from the same lake house on Boone Lake in Tennessee that we came to last summer after submitting our application to adopt with Lifeline Children's Services. Last year while at the lake, I spent some time writing my autobiography and reading about China, both requirements for our home study, as well as looking at the waiting child list on Lifeline's website. But this year, in addition to enjoying time with my family, I'm looking at pictures of the little girl that we know will one day be in our family and reflecting on all that has happened over the past year. I've also been thinking about what this coming year will hold as we anticipate welcoming our new daughter, Jenna Jean, into our family.
It's hard to put into words all that has transpired this past year, but I want to capture a few to share with Jenna one day:
*The most difficult thing for me this year was the death of my mom, Jenna's "Mimi," that she will never meet this side of heaven. It has been almost nine months since my precious mom went to be with Jesus, but not a day goes by that I don't want to hear her voice, hug her, or send her pictures of her growing grandchildren. The finality of losing someone so special in my life is still hard for me to wrap my finite mind around, but I am thankful for the many special memories I have with my mom. I hope that I can keep these memories alive to share with Jenna and her older brothers and sister.
*The most amazing thing for me this year is how the Lord has changed my heart and the fear I had about whether or not I could love a child that I did not give birth to as much as my biological children. I can honestly say, without even meeting Jenna yet, that He has given me a love for her that I cannot describe. I know there will be challenges as we bring Jenna home and become a family of six, but I am so thankful that the fear I had prior to making the decision to adopt is GONE!
*The most important thing for me this year has been cherishing the family of five that we currently are and trying to "live in the moment" more. As much as I long to have Jenna here with us, this lesson of planning for the future but living for today is one I have needed to learn. I am a planner, do-er, and list-maker, yet MOST of the things in the adoption process are completely out of my control. Once I finish all the necessary paperwork with each step in this long process, there is A LOT of waiting. So in these waiting times, I'm learning to cherish moments with the amazing husband and three biological children the Lord has given me.
*The most joyful thing for me this year has been hearing my children tell me about their excitement to have Jenna home with us. I fully realize there will be an adjustment period--it may be a LONG adjustment period--but to know that Nathan, Shelby, and Andrew are excited to welcome a precious little girl from China into our home and into their hearts makes MY heart swell with JOY!!!
*The most rewarding thing for me this year was organizing the inaugural RACE for the Orphans 5K (www.racefortheorphans.weebly.com) for Raising Awareness, Compassion, and Education for Orphans. This inaugural RACE served as a fundraiser for our adoption and we were overwhelmed by the support with 363 runners and walkers! It was an awesome experience, and we are excited to be planning the second annual RACE which will be held on May 10, 2014 in order to benefit other local adopting families with their fundraising needs.
*The most humbling and surprising thing for me this year has been all the generous people willing to give of their time, talents, and resources to be part of our adoption journey. From the 363 runners and walkers at RACE for the Orphans to people donating and buying items at our yard sale to generous donations given on our behalf to Lifesong for Orphans (www.lifesong.org), we have been SO VERY BLESSED! The MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group that I have coordinated for seven years threw me a surprise baby shower and provided us with items for Jenna that will be so VERY helpful! People are praying for us and Jenna as we prepare to become a family of six. While it isn't always easy to ask for help, I have learned this past year that so MANY people are willing to be part of something bigger than themselves and if we don't allow them to bless us, we are denying them a blessing, too! By joining hands with our family as we prepare to bring Jenna home, every one of these amazing people will forever be part of her story...and for that I am eternally grateful!
It truly has been ONE BIG YEAR!!!
But today not only marks one year since we stepped out in faith to adopt...it is also day 80 in our wait for LOA (Letter of Acceptance) from China. Several changes in China have slowed down our process (and the process for ALL adoptions), including computer system changes and the U.S. Consulate in China moving locations. All of these changes impact our lives because they affect when we will be able to bring our sweet Jenna home. But I'm reminded with each passing day, as hard as it is to wait, that time goes by quickly--this year that has been so meaningful has flown by! So instead of wishing the days away, I am choosing to cherish each day and what it will bring.
And ONE DAY, Jenna will be in my arms!!!