The adoption journey is truly an adventure for the mind, body and soul! We began this process…via divine intervention… last August. We plowed through the paperwork, which is like having a second job and is beyond EXHAUSTING. After completing the paperwork in March we waited just over 2 weeks to get a referral, committed to our daughter, and now just about a year after we started this process, we are nearing the end. Which is actually the beginning….of the best part.
The end however has proven to be the most taxing on my mind. I feel the same way that I felt in the last trimester of my two pregnancies. I make really silly errors in spelling, calculations, forget things easily and I can’t seem to think straight. Basically, I feel like a ditz! Maybe it’s because we are keeping as busy as possible to keep from obsessing too much about our little Mei Li. Maybe it’s the obsession all by itself!
Here’s what we’ve been doing to prepare for the 5th member of our family: Practicing Mandarin, Packaging, Painting, Purchasing, Paperwork, and Praying.
Practicing Mandarin: Once a week, we have a Mandarin tutor (a graduate student from UB) spend an hour and half with us. She spends a half hour with James and an hour with Jim and me. This is not something that is required by our agency, but we felt that since Mei Li is not a baby, (she’ll be a few months shy of 3 years old when we get her), she will know some of her own language. The transition that she faces in just a few months will be very overwhelming for her. So, we will do anything we can to help her! We are really enjoying the lessons very much, but I am not sure how helpful our “ability” to speak Mandarin will be to her! Mandarin is a tonal language, and the word “ma” can mean 4 different things depending on the tone used. I’m pretty good at the vocabulary, but lose the ability to say the tones correctly in a sentence. So….we continue to practice, practice, practice!
Packaging: We were allowed to send a “care package” with limited things to Mei Li. Our agency has rules about what we can and can’t send, so as to avoid problems on the receiving end. We included a photo album, a hand written letter, the book: The Very Hungry Caterpillar (written in English and Mandarin), a small package of stickers, a CD of our voices and some songs, and a homemade “friendship bracelet.”
Our photo album includes things we like to do together on a regular basis, but we also included pictures of her bedroom, our pets, etc. We had the captions in the album translated into Mandarin, so Mei’s foster mother can help her to get to know us.
My two favorite things in the care package are the CD with our voices and the “friendship bracelet”. On the CD, Jim, Zach, James and I sang songs and read a few childrens’ books. Jim and I attempted a few sentences in Mandarin, but James flaunted his Mandarin abilities by “teaching” little sister the colors of the rainbow and counting 1-10 in English, while also saying the Mandarin words. He also sang a song in Mandarin called, “Two Tigers”. (Show off!) The “friendship bracelet” combines the ancient Chinese proverb listed at the top of our blog. “A red thread connects those who are destined to meet. It may stretch and tangle, but it will never break.” I put my crafting skills to the test and made a white bracelet with red hearts, and used an airplane button as a clasp. We wrote in a letter to her that we will wear the same bracelets the day we meet her, so she knows that, “We belong to her.”
Painting: Mei Li’s bedroom is still a work in progress, but we have completed the painting. To back track…the week we found out that China had released her as “eligible for adoption” a few “God winks” happened, proving yet again, that He is really the one guiding us on this journey.
1) The Christmas cactus that I took from my grandmother’s estate only blooms for about 1 week each spring. Mei Li will have the same middle name as my grandmother, Jeanette Adele. I know my grandmother would (and does) love this little girl, as her plant bloomed that very same week. It’s flowers are a beautiful pink. (It looks purple in the picture, but trust me…they’re pink!)
2) The flowers in front of our church that same week were also a beautiful pink. I usually leave my phone in the car during Mass, but this week I forgot to leave it, and was able to snap a picture.
Those pinks are the same colors we had already picked for Mei Li’s room.
Purchasing: Since we only have boys in our house, buying 2T and 3T clothing for this little girl has been an absolute joy! We don’t want to break the bank on her wardrobe, so we’ve been scouring eBay for great deals. It’s amazing the adorable, “nearly new” outfits I’ve been able to score for next to nothing. As each day goes by, we also think of other things that are a necessity for this little human….a toothbrush, a comb/brush, a car seat…..things that are not “best” found on eBay, but remedied with a trip to Target! Since she doesn’t have a single possession to call her own right now, we are so happy to provide them for her. Even the outfit she will wear the day we meet her will have to be returned. Everything, but her, belongs to the orphanage. She belongs to us! 🙂
Paperwork: Where exactly are we with this whole process? Well, as you can see with the timeline to the right, we have mailed our i800 to US Customs and Immigration. This form, when approved, declares her our immediate relative, and allows us to bring her into the country. After this approval, there are a few more steps, including applying for Visas, before we can travel. Our agency estimates that our travel date will be in October or November.
Praying: It is a privilege to be called by God to adopt. I openly accept, not only the joys this adoption brings, but the challenges as well. To quote a famous actor’s recent award acceptance speech, “I want to thank God, because that’s who I look up to. He has graced my life with opportunities that I know are not of my hand or any other human hand.” Adoption is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to serve God, and do His work here on Earth. We do not expect any glory for this, nor will we need to make any acceptance speeches. The glory belongs all to Him.
So we pray daily, several times a day, that He will provide her with a peaceful heart, ensure that her daily needs are met, and that her loss be felt minimally. In order for us to gain her, she will lose everything and everyone she has ever known. We ask God that He might be working on her heart now, so that she can begin to trust us to do right by her….from Day 1.
Thank you for praying along with us for our little Mei Li’s swift and safe journey home.