Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Fun with Ana Claire

Yes - you're getting 4 posts in one day...one night actually. So, to catch you up on this most exciting week....here we go:

We had a fun day with our friends today. We met Ana Claire, her mother Lisa, and our new friends Stephanie and Greg for lunch at Chic-Fil-A. Stephanie and Greg live just down the street from us and they are waiting on their travel approval to head to China to adopt their daughter Hannah Grace. It will be so fun to have her here and so close to us!

After lunch, Hannah and I went to Lisa's house for the girls to play. They had a great time, and Lisa and I enjoyed getting a chance to talk too.

Christmas Day!

We had a great Christmas day!! Christmas morning was absolutely as magical as I had hoped. Guess who woke up first? That would be me - not typical. I watched Hannah sleep and kept thinking 'hurry up already!'. Finally, she woke up, crawled in my bed and smiled. I asked her "do you think Santa came last night?". She whispered "yes". I said "do you want to go downstairs and see?" She sat straight up, said "5 more minutes sleep" and fell back on the bed! Ha!! She didn't really get it yet. I bet that's the last time I hear that on Christmas morning!
When I finally got her up and moving, I made her sit on the top of the stairs so I could run downstairs and grab the video camera. Oh - I wish I could get that video on here so you could see it. You know those commercials where the kid comes down the stairs on Christmas morning and the look on their face is just priceless? It was exactly like that...so sweet and precious.

"Wow" was the only word out of her mouth for the first 2 minutes at least!

Enjoying her new kitchen

We got a break from the rain just long enough for Hannah to enjoy a few minutes on her new bike.

Sipping "tea" with nana - otherwise known as Beth. Beth and her husband Wayne are very special to us. Beth travelled with me to China (and will hopefully get to go next time too!) and she now picks Hannah up from school about once a week to spend time with her while I have my faculty meetings (and sometimes get to enjoy running a couple child-free errands too before I go home). She and Wayne are a second set of grandparents to Hannah and I'm so thankful for them!! They came over Christmas night to eat and hang out with us a while.

Christmas Eve

I love this photo I took before church!

Having fun with grandpa!

Hannah loves her new playhouse, especially the front porch - compliments of the grandparents / great-grandparent!

Opening presents - Hannah was happy to get this computer from grandma and grandpa so she can "work" like mama!

A very tired Hannah saying bye to her paw-paw, her great-grandfather.

A New Swingset!!

Hannah had one "pre-Christmas" present - a swingset. She got it a couple weeks before Christmas but since it took some time to put together, it wasn't finished until a few days before Christmas. (Before you get too impressed - I didn't do it. My dad came several days to put it together). Hannah loves it!!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve Reflections and Big News!

Look for a post on all the fun and wonder Hannah experienced on her first Christmas home soon. But, tonight I want to take a minute to share what's on my heart and mind. Tonight, after everything was ready for Hannah to walk downstairs tomorrow (I can't wait!), I sat in the middle of the living room floor, looked at the tree, and in the quiet began to reflect on this past year and on my life. And I think AMAZING! I am so incredibly blessed by all God has done. I am thankful and will always remember this leg of the journey of my life. It's one of the times where I know that I know that I heard God's voice, and despite the fears and uncertainties that accompanied it, I answered and did my best to follow. That's not always been true. Like most of us I imagine, I've told God no a few times. More often, I've just "tuned him out" and not listened. But this time, I did listen. And God walked beside me through the most wonderful, amazing experience. (Or actually, it went kind of fast..I like to think God "picked up the pace" and skipped in joy alongside of me because He knew what was coming and couldn't wait for me to get there!!) But, I've been reminded in many ways lately that it is an ongoing journey. And once again, God is calling me to step out of my comfort zone a bit and move forward in faith on the next leg of the journey.

My church has been doing an advent series titled "We're Expecting". It's been about expecting the Christ child in our lives, but it's been using as examples families in our church who have "expected" a child and how that child has impacted them. Hannah and I were first and one day we headed to the church to be videotaped for use in the series. I was asked to talk about new dreams. I talked about the dream of having a child becoming reality. I shared the story of how I began the adoption process, how I met Hannah, and life together afterwards. The guy doing the interview asked me what dreams I had for the future for Hannah and for myself. I shared a little bit about my dreams for Hannah. But, I wasn't entirely honest. I said I didn't know what God had for the future for me. That was true, but he didn't ask what I KNEW, he asked what I DREAMED. And in truth, there was a dream in my heart. I just wasn't ready to share it yet with 300 or so of my closest friends on Sunday morning. But the dream had begun taking root before I even had Hannah, though I pushed it aside at the time. But, I caught myself occassionally saying or thinking the words..."next time,_____" What?!!? next time? no way! I'm single and most definately NOT rich! This is great. Thanks God for the opportunity THIS time, but I can't do it again. After Hannah was home, I was so busy with her and I was so happy with her, that I didn't think a lot about "next time", but I did keep it in the back of my mind. I'd catch myself thinking "look how nuturing she is to her doll..wouldn't she be a great big sister?" or "what would it be like to have two kids riding in the back seat of the car?', etc. Eventually, I decided in my heart that I would try to adopt one more child , but I would wait about two years before starting the process. That way, Hannah would be older and could be more a part of it. She'd have more time to be the baby. I'd have some time to save and prepare. About a month ago I told a good friend "I know now is not the right time, but I have been thinking a lot about adopting again. But later. I know now is not the right time". But, I have thought about it a LOT over the last month.

And then, WHAM!! Many of those in the china adoption community know this, but two weeks ago China announced new regulations for their adoption program. One of those regulations is that they will no longer accept single applicants after May 1, 2007. That's four months away - May 1. (You don't have to complete the adoption by then, but have your paperwork to China by then.). The night I heard the news (at that point it was actualy just a rumor..), I went to bed a bit sad, thinking "well, that's it for that dream. It'll never happen now." For those wondering, yes, there are other countries that accept single applicants. But, China was the one in my heart. And, part of the dream for me also was having two children that shared the same background and heritage. Which is not to say that is the "right way" or that others who have children adopted from different cultures is the "wrong way". I actually think it's great. It's just not the dream in MY heart right now. I briefly thought, "I wonder if I started RIGHT NOW..would I have time to get my paperwork to China by May 1". But, I kept thinking that wasn't my plan. My plan was to wait two more years. Interesting how God works. Now that I've had some time to sort it out a little, I think God planted the DREAM, but I made the PLAN to reach the dream. When it was obvious that the PLAN wouldn't work, I mistook that to mean the DREAM had to die to. Thankfully, it was a temporary lapse of understanding on my part. I've learned that God really is in control. I just forgot that for about 24 hours. I thought my plan was right because logically it was a good plan. It took into account what I believed was best for Hannah (let her be a bit older before starting) and also what I believed was reality (I could better prepare and save with a little more time). Well, you know what? God's plans are based on a deeper reality that He is able and willing to do more than we ask or imagine. (okay, there's that "more than we ask or imagine" verse that keeps popping in my head over and over in the past year...I'm trying to listen!!) And as much as I love Hannah, and I do love that little girl oh so deeply, and as much I want the very best for her - SO does God, even more! So, anyway - that night I'm telling God that I wish it could be different, I wish it had worked out...and the next morning I get in the shower and I suddently realize what I was talking about...that the PLAN had to go, but the DREAM did not. So, to make a long story shorter, I e-mailed my social worker and asked if the rumors were true and if adopting a 2nd child was still a possibilty for me. The answers came back YES. I've since talked more with her and met with her and she has been very honest with me. There is a bit of a risk. We have to work fast to get my paperwork to China by May 1. I'm willing to work fast, and she is willing to help me as much as she can. (I'm so fortunate to have a GREAT agency and a GREAT social worker there!) The key part of this process is going to be getting that CIS approval (citizenship and immigration) that is currently taking a long time. That's something that can't be guarunteed, but right now it looks like it will work out. I'm choosing to at least begin the process under the non-special needs program. Many of you know, I adopted Hannah through the special needs program. It was my intent to adopt a 2nd time the same way. But, I have found my heart very at peace with working towards non-special needs at this time and it has the advantage (to me - disadvantage to many! sorry!) of having a much longer waiting period. I'm looking at possibily 2 years until I have my daughter. Going this route is an option quite honestly I didn't even see until I gave up "my plan". So, I'm cautiously working towards this new plan. But, I'm going to **try** to remember that God really is in control. I may switch over to special needs later in the process. I may not. The process may speed up, or it may slow down. Or, China may even decide at some point to stop single adoptions entirely, even if my paperwork is already there. (That's not typical of the way they have made changes in the past, but just a reminder that in the world of international adoption, truly anything can happen). But for right now, I feel like God has opened a door for me and it's only open for a short time. So, I'm walking through it. And, while this long message almost makes it sound like I'm not excited, that's not true at all. I was just trying to put on paper the thought process and experience of making the decision. I am very very excited about the possiblity of adding a 2nd daughter to my home. That, after all, has been the dream in my heart.

So, now that you've made it though this very long post, please pray for us. Pray for me to remain open to what God is doing, pray for Hannah, and pray for God's hand to guide us in adding a 3rd member to our family. (And, you can pray for quick immigration approval too!!)

And with that, I'm now going to bed so I can sleep a few hours before watching my sweet Hannah head downstairs on Christmas morning to see what Santa brought. Part of my dream for her is to enjoy the wonder and magic of santa now while she's little, but to also grow up knowing that the true reason to celebrate Christmas is the birth of God's son. Hannah does know who "baby Jesus" is, but one day, I hope she fully realizes why He came. I dream of the day the love God has for her becomes so real in her heart that it gives her the courage to live the life God has called her to with joy and thanksgiving. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Saturday, December 23, 2006


One night I was playing with Hannah's hair and I put them in pigtails. Her hair really isn't quite long enough to do it right, but she loved them! The next morning I went to brush her hair and she said "two...two..two hair" and held her fingers up on top of her head to show me she wanted pigtails. (Once I taught her that they were called "pigtails" she laughed and kept saying "oink, oink"!) So, Hannah wore pigtails to school that day, which just happened to be "Pajama Day" in her classroom as well. Here's a picture of her at school that day.

Now, Hannah wants the pigtails every day! I'm really not so good at them. If someone wants to give me lessons in getting that nice, even part all the way down let me know! But, I've given Hannah pigtails the last couple days. She gets excited and loves it and I figure I need the practice anyway!

hmm... this tape and wrapping presents thing is kind of tricky. But, I want to do it "BY MYSELF!"

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Some Recent Photos

Future praise team band member! Hannah LOVES listening to the praise team at church. My brother gave her this guitar and she has completely loved putting on concerts for me!

I Just LOVE this picture. Every night we read two or three books before bedtime. On this night, I told Hannah to pick out her books while I went downstairs for something. When I came back up, this is what I saw. She was so intent on reading her book and after I snapped the picture, she looked up, smiled, and said "BY MYSELF!" (her favorite words these days by the way!)

Santa Hannah!

Doesn't she look so sweet?

I took Hannah to ride the "Santa Express" - a real train in Calera. She loves trains and had a great time. She got to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus and even sat in his lap for a few minutes on the way back.