Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I walked out of the orphanage with Gracie 8 days ago and we have been home for 3 days. The change, the transformation, I have seen has been amazing. I never thought things would happen so fast.

The first couple of days I had her it was apparent she was dehydrated. She barely had 1-2 wet diapers a day (and they were not very wet at all). I quickly realized she could not even drink. She didn't know how to drink from a cup or a bottle. When I did put liquid in her mouth she choked on it. I knew right away that liquids were a priority. I started trying everything to get her to drink. She bites and chews everything, but does not know how to suck or swallow well. I got her a cup that you have to bite down on for the liquid to come out. It worked wonders! She can now drink a cup of water like a champ. She is wetting diapers (full diapers) constantly. In a matter of days she is no longer dehydrated. Her skin even changed. It is now more squishy and soft rather than flat and dry all because of a little water.

Like I said, she was biting so hard. Clenching her jaws, grinding her teeth. Every time I tried to give her food she would bite the spoon or my fingers. I was afraid she would not let go. Today I noticed she is no longer doing that. I fed her a muffin this morning and she took it from my fingers to her mouth so gently. She learned that biting hurts (I'm sure from my reaction of quickly pulling away and saying "ouch") and she learned it is not necessary.

I was so saddened by the way Gracie ate when I first fed her. After every bite she would scream and shake. I didn't understand. I have heard of how children from hard places have trouble with food/eating. I just was not prepared for this. It was like she was in a panic and afraid I would never give her another bite.  I spoke softly to her and told her that she would always have enough to eat. I let her know that I would always be here to take care of her. I smiled at her and looked into her eyes when I fed her. Eventually, after about three days, the screaming and shaking calmed and I could see change. Now, after feeding her for a week, there is no more of that. She smiles when she eats and she is calm in between bites. When the meal is over, she is satisfied and calm. I would never have expected it to only take a week to help her through this.

Putting Gracie to bed at night was very difficult for all of us. She screamed if we held her, screamed if we rocked her, screamed if we put her in the bed. There was crying...from all of us. I felt so helpless. I knew I just wanted to comfort her, but that she needed to comfort herself. For almost four years she has only had herself to rely on. She has only been able to be soothed...by her. I had no choice but to let her crawl around and play on the floor until she passed out. She would rock herself and then just lay down on the floor and go to sleep. Two nights ago, she started crying when she was tired and cried when I put her in bed. I decided to put her on my chest and see what she would do. She snuggled her head on my chest and sighed. She was calm and went to sleep.

The sigh. Oh my, I love her sigh. She tells me she is comforted and relieved in that sigh.

Every time she wakes up she looks at me for a second, breathes a sigh and then a beautiful smile crosses her face. I can sense her relief. I really believe that she is relieved and so happy that she is still here with us and this was not all a dream. To me, it feels like a dream. I can't even imagine what is going through her head. All I can say is her constant smiles and laughter tell me all I will ever need to know.

She knows she is safe. She knows she is loved.

She is being physically and emotionally transformed before our eyes in a very short amount of time. We are being transformed spiritually. Our hearts forever changed. Our faith stronger than ever. Transformed through Christ in all that He has done. When there was fear, He told me "Be not afraid." When there was doubt, He told me "Trust in Me."  When I thought I would not be able to do this, He reminded me, "I am here with you." He knows the plans He has for me. He knows the plans He has for Gracie. He knew that we were meant to be together. He knew we would be transformed. I know we will continue to be transformed.

Romans 12:2
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

2 Corinthians 3:18

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

The first photo I ever saw of our daughter
January 2012

The second photo I received of Gracie
March 2012

What love and care can do...in just one week! 
January 2013

Friday, January 25, 2013

We're Coming Home

We are packed and prepared for our long 20 hour trip home. Tonight I am reflecting over the past year and the past week. I can't help but take a deep breath (a sigh of relief) as this chapter of our lives closes and our new forever begins.

After a stressful and adventurous week, we are ready to leave the country that our daughter was born in and bring her home. She has so much love waiting for her at home and I can't wait for her to experience what "home" really means. An orphanage was her home for almost four years. For the past week a hotel room was her home. Tomorrow night she will enter the door to her true home with her forever family. What a precious thought.

As you know we encountered some bumps along this journey, but it all has worked out for our family. We were showered with love through prayers, encouragement and more. I want to tell you that we are so grateful and we will pay it forward. There are many families who are walking this same journey who need help. During this week they were able to put their needs aside and help us. Heaven was stormed with prayer and we saw every prayer answered. We will return these blessings to other families who are on their way to bring their children home.

Gracie has changed. Every day she has blossomed a little more. She trusts us more and more. Feeding her is so much easier now than the first couple of days. She knows she will get enough to eat. Bath time is getting easier too. She did not cry this morning when we had no choice but to bathe her b/c of a very yucky diaper. Bedtime...well we are still working on that, but it has gotten easier too.

She is a joy to wake up to in the morning. She smiles and reaches out for me when I go to get her out of her bed. This morning I put her in the bed between us. She crawled over to Jimmy, put her head and his chest and said "dada."  It is so amazing. She has a sweet whisper when she says "mama" and it makes my heart melt.

She knows she is ours and we are hers. She was chosen for us and we were chosen for her.

Bye-Bye for now...I'll see you in the USA!!!


I Will Tell Her That They Loved Her

Many times I have thought of Gracie's parents. They are a very real part of this story. At first, I just thought of them, but after we met Gracie that began to change. When we held her and played with her I hurt for them. I prayed for them.

Throughout the adoption I have received little pieces of information about how their journey began. Gracie was born of a c-section, I knew their ages and their occupations and I knew that she was immediately sent to the orphanage. Some would think that to be so cruel and unloving of them. It is hard for us to understand how parents can do such a thing. I have a tender heart for them; I have compassion for them. I know that the place they live in does not make life easy on them if they choose to parent. It is not their fault individually; it is just the way it is here.

Understand that I do not think they are bad people. I pray for them all the time. They are married and I often wondered about them and what it must have been like to have Gracie. I have cried many tears and felt pain for them. When we met Gracie I saw so much in her. She is a lively, fun, beautiful and loving child. I was so hurt that her parents were not experiencing what she had to offer yet so happy and blessed that we will be able to do so. I prayed, "Lord, they do not know what they are missing. Please give them peace."

Over the past year (especially the past 5 months) I have wondered and prayed, "Did they just turn their backs and walk away?" "Did they love her/care about her?" "Do they ever think about her or wonder what happened to her?" "Did they ever visit her or want to bring her home?"

Most of the time I figured the answer may have been no. I assumed they probably left her and went on about their lives. I wondered if it was normal for me to have these thoughts. I wondered if I was obsessing too much. I decided it was my privilege, duty and honor to pray for them which I have done all along.

Gracie was born in March of 2009 which is about the time I found out I was pregnant with Logan. How great is our God? While I had no idea about the journey I was stepping into with our little boy with Down syndrome...a little girl across the World was being born with the very same condition and she was to be ours too. We were clueless and never would have believed it, but God is so amazing.

I think about the day she was born. I try to picture her parents. How did they find out she has Down syndrome? Did they spend time with her? The questions just keep coming. So I pray. I pray for their comfort. I pray for my peace about it.

A few days ago, I got my peace. In our adoption decree it was noted that Gracie's birth parents visited her. In fact, they visited her three times. That may not seem like a lot, but it showed me that they did care and they did love her. I wanted needed to know that they did. The last time they saw her was on her second birthday. They have not returned in 22 months and the officials there have been unable to contact them.

I suspect it was painful for them to visit her. Painful for them to leave her. It was painful for me to leave her. The difference is I knew I would be back; I knew that one day I would walk out of the orphanage with her in my arms and she would never have to go back. No one could give them that peace and comfort. I will always pray for them and always be grateful that they loved her.

On Gracie's birthday and on Mother's/Father's Day I will always think of and honor them.

I will tell her that they loved her.

Monday, January 21, 2013


Thank you for all of your prayers!! I was so nervous today but GOTCHA DAY went very well and Gracie and I had a great day!

Of course there are many details that made up our day, but she is asleep and I am going to eat my dinner and get some rest. Here is one of her first photos as we drove away. She is so sweet!

John 14:18  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Wind Has Shifted

Things don't always work out as you expect or hope they. We know that about life. When Jimmy and I were here in August everything went perfectly. This time, not so much.

Everything started off great. We left Houston with no problem and had a very long flight to Frankfurt, Germany. We got to our gate for our connecting flight and the ticket agent could not check our 12 year old daughter in. She said there is a problem with the passport. It expires in March. Okay...so what's the problem here? It's January and March is six weeks away!

The passport must be valid for THREE MONTHS PAST THE EXPIRATION DATE!!!

Are you kidding me? What is the point of an expiration date then? Tears flowing. Tears from my eyes. Tears from my sweet daughters eyes. I was panicking. There was nothing I could do. The plane was about to board and we had to decide if I was going to get on that plane or not. Alone. Without my husband and daughter. We all knew I had to get on that plane. I had to show up for Gracie.

As I boarded I watched Paige standing there in tears and my heart was broken. The flight was 2 hours long and I cried the whole time.

Then one of those things happened that lets you know God has this under control. I was sitting on an empty row (since 2 of the seats were supposed to be for my family). Halfway through the flight a little girl came to my seat. She climbed onto my lap and started talking to me. This was NOT a hallucinaton. She was real. She was a Bulgarian child. She had the same skin, hair and size as Gracie. She was looking out the window and talking away (in Bulgarian). I have no idea what she was saying. I kept looking back to see if her parents were going to come get her, but no one was even standing up. So I just savored the moment. I knew immediately what was happening. God was sending comfort. I thought of Gracie and I knew that in a couple of days she would be sitting in my lap just like this. After about 10 minutes a woman came to collect he child. She did not speak English. She summoned the child, but the child did not move. She just stayed on my lap. I asked the mother what the child's name was and she said Daria and that she was 2 years old. She also told me th city they live in and I know it very well since one of my friends adopted there. After about 5 more minutes the mother was able to convince Daria that she should return to her seat. She was a sweet child and I got great comfort from her visit.

When I landed I had some trouble locating my driver. Once I did, I got to my hotel and pleaded for prayers. I then started to contact the US Embassy/Consulate. I was able to get an emergency appointment scheduled for Tuesdya at 8am to have them fix the problem with the passport.

Now...we wait. What happens now hinges on my meeting at the orphange tomorrow and their meeting at the consulate on Tuesday.

Hopefully I will still be able to pick up Gracie tomorrow and still celebrate Gotcha Day (just won't be what I imagined). Then, hopefully everything goes well with the consulate and my husband and daughter will join my and Gracie on Tuesday night.

We have had an amazing amount of support come through for us. Many, many prayers and even donations since this will cost us more money.

I have had to be reminded that we do not know the path of the wind. God's plans are His plans and do not always align with ours. One thing is for sure: His plan is the perfect plan!

Continued prayers are needed and so appreciated.

Tomorrow...I will let you know what happens!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Counting the Days

We have been preparing. For an entire year, we have went through so much paperwork and so many emotions and now we are so close that we both have child-like enthusiasm. We think about Gracie every second of the day. We imagine her being in our home as we have all along, but now it's so close and so real that we can feel it.

In just 5 days, we will board a plane to bring her home forever. Gracie will finally know what it's like to live in a home with a family.

We will leave on Friday 1/18. Gotcha Day will be Monday 1/21. We will be home Saturday 1/26.

Many people have asked me why we have to be gone for a week. Why can't we just go pick her up, get on a plane and come home?

Well, you see I have learned that adoption is just not that simple. First of all we have to account for an entire day to travel there and travel home. We were lucky to get a 13 hour flight over there, but not so lucky with a 20 hour flight home. After we pick Gracie up we have to apply for her passport. This takes 3 days to get. We then have to take her for a medical appointment and apply for her VISA which accounts for another 2 days. Once we have all of that in order we will be on our way back.

We really enjoyed our time in her country when we visited her in August. We lived every moment, enjoyed the city, enjoyed the food and just soaked it all in. It is now cold and snowing there (and we are a Texas family who never sees snow). We want to enjoy the country just as much, or even more, now that we will have her with us. 

We are also taking our 12 year old daughter with us this time. She is completely over the moon about going to pick up her baby sister. Her heart has been so into the adoption and it really is a beautiful thing. She is going to miss school, it will cost us extra money, she will return with jet-lag and have to go back to school, she won't be here to help with her baby brother. There were many reasons that we thought we should not bring her. Giving her this experience is more important. She has a true, loving heart for the least of these. She always has. I can see her continuing in orphan ministry and even adopting someday. I am so proud of her and how big her heart is. She will never forget this journey.

Thank you so much for following us throughout this journey to grow our family. I have learned that I am not living according to my own plans. This is God's story, His plans, His journey. I am so thankful that we listened and followed His way. I can't wait to see what God has in store for our family going forward.

I plan to update daily on my blog while we are traveling. Last time I was not able to share pictures of our beautiful girl, but this time...well, just be prepared. There will be pictures.

Please pray for us while we travel. I know this will not be the easiest thing we've done. Please pray for Gracie. Pray that she is comforted by us. I know she will likely be confused and scared. Pray for our oldest and youngest children that are being left in very good hands while we are gone. Pray for our friend, Caryn who will have our little one. She has her hands full already, yet she never questions helping us in any way she can. Speaking of friends, pray for Gracie's friends who she spends her days with. Pray that they will not be confused by her absence and that they too have a family come for them soon.

I felt your prayers lifting me up over the past year (especially on our first trip). I will be praying thanksgiving and blessings upon all of you who lift us up during this time. I appreciate you so much.