Monday, July 25, 2011

In Memory of Laurel

There is still a bit of a feeling of un-reality about that title. It is hard to imagine that our friend and her three girls are gone. We were at family camp with our church when Andy got an e-mail letting us know that she and her three girls had drowned in a flash flood in Wyoming. It was a blessing to be surrounded by our church family as we wept and tried to gather our minds around this reality.

Laurel helped us with our adoption for Moriah as well as the home study for our two boys who are still waiting for us in China. After we brought Moriah home, she came several times to check on us and see how we were doing. Her observations of Moriah were always so encouraging. Because she was also an adoptive mother, she really understood all that we were going through. She supported us as we found out medical diagnosis after medical diagnosis. She helped us not to stress about the trouble Moriah seemed to have in bonding with Andy. She gave us helpful ideas and supported us all along the way. She was bubbly and cheerful and her presence was comforting and reassuring.

When we began to think about adopting again, I was so excited to call her to get our home study started. She was delighted and surprised. She wisely wrote the home study in such a way that we could adopt one or two children. At the time, I kind of laughed and thought that was not going to happen. She visited with us several times. I remember talking with her about my own childhood and the loss of my mom when I was seven. I cried remembering. And I also cried because I know that our adopted children all face losses of their own. She was a friend that was easy to share with. (Only with a paper and pencil in hand as she took notes for our home study report.)

I called her and told her that we were considering adopting two. She talked through some of the issues with me. Then I e-mailed her and told her that we had changed our minds. She was still supportive and encouraging. Then I called her again and told her that we had changed our minds yet again and wanted to adopt two. She again gave helpful input and things for us to consider.

Our paperwork was tied up for several weeks as we waited for clearances from all of the states in which we have lived. She finally was able to finalize and send everything up to our agency just before she left on her trip to Wyoming. We got the message and e-mailed her to say "thanks" only finding out later that day that she had already died. Really hard to believe.

The Lord promises that He will use all things for our good and His glory. We trust Him. We love Him. We believe in His good purposes and plans. Most of all we believe that He is sovereign over all things. I do not think I will ever understand His ways in this...and I am comforted to remember that I do not have to understand. Only trust. I am thankful for the time we had with Laurel. I am thankful for the encouragement that she offered us again and again. I am thankful that she leaves a legacy of many little children who came home from China partly because of her work. I am thankful for the challenge that I feel to share my faith, to live each day for Christ, to hug my children and husband a little more, and to give thanks. Each day is a gift from God. He did not spare His own son, but freely gave him up for us all. When I think of Christ and his great sacrifice for me....His adoption of me, I stand in awe and can only praise Him. Even when it's hard.

Wednesday we will go to a service to remember Laurel and her three daughters. Andy will share some thoughts. We are praying that the Lord will be glorified. I would also like to ask for prayer for Alex, Laurel's husband. He alone was able to escape from the van as it plunged into the rushing water. It is hard to imagine his agony. Please pray that the Lord would be glorified in His life as he processes through all of this.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Two Boys!

(Joshua is showing Isaac the pictures that we sent him of us.)

What? You're adopting two?? This has been the question we've received a lot lately. And it is quite an amazing turn of events.

We were not really seriously looking to adopt again when we found out about Joshua. When we saw his pictures for the first time, we knew immediately that we needed to move forward to bring him home. But there was this little whisper in my heart. "Couldn't we bring home two?" China has recently begun allowing this. Two unrelated children can be adopted together if they are designated "special focus." Joshua has this designation. So I found myself looking at files of other "special focus" children. We talked about it a lot. Andy talked with our pastor about it as well. Finally, Andy told me to e-mail Pam, our friend in China who was advocating for Joshua. He suggested that we ask her how she thought Joshua would feel about coming home with a brother. She responded right away that most kids do really well. That it is a benefit for them to have someone to share this whole experience with. And...she included a picture of a little boy in her care whom we might consider. I was familiar with this little boy because I had spoken with her about him over two years ago. He had gone to Shanghai for a tethered cord release surgery about the same time that Moriah had that same surgery. We prayed for a day or two. Finally, we called our agency and asked to see his file and began to process to bring him home as well.

Zhu Xiao Chuan and Dang Xiao Hui...two little boys born in different cities in a land far, far away from us were planned by our gracious, sovereign God be brothers and to be our sons. We are in awe of God's work.

Now we needed a name. It took us so long to settle on a name for Joshua. But as we sat in church one Sunday, our pastor was reading the story of Abraham offering his son Isaac and how God provided a ram. I began to think of the name Isaac. Dang Xiao Hui and Moriah will be just four months apart. Her name also comes from this Bible passage. The name Isaac means laughter as Sarah couldn't believe that God would give her a child in her old age. And it seemed perfect. Isaac reminds us of God's provision on the mountains of Moriah (pointing ultimately to the provision of Christ). And we do have to laugh a little in the amazing plans of God to bring this blessing to us. So Isaac Xiao Hui it is.

Pam, who has Isaac in her care, made arrangements for our two boys to meet and spend some time together. We laughed and cried when we saw these two precious boys together. Soon to be home with us...brothers forever.

Homestudy is done. Soon, it will be headed to USCIS for immigration processing. Hopefully we will be able to get everything to China by September. And perhaps travel sometime in January or February. Meanwhile, we trust the Lord. Only he could begin this amazing adventure. And we know that he is faithful to us and to our boys.