Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 1

Thus begins our new life as a family of 5.
The girls playing in their room.

Civil affairs office, waiting for more paperwork to be finished.

Traditional White Swan photo op.

The children seem to be hitting it off quite well.  Heng Xin seems comfortable with either one of us.  Coming in this morning, she came right to me and hopped up in my lap.  Leaving for breakfast she sought out my hand to hold - one glorious feeling.

To have and to hold

It occurred to me the other day watching some program that not unlike wedding vows we say to this child - 'to have and to hold until death do us part' is as real a promise in adoption as it is in marriage.  Maybe more so. 

We met our interpreter Connie around 2 pm in the lobby and moved to the waiting bus. Not long into our journey to the Civil Affairs office, familiar places were seen.

It was hard to believe it was 2 years 8 months before we had made that same trip for much has happened in our lives since that March day in 2008. Never then did we ever dream we would be making that very same trip again.

Arriving at the Civil Affairs office we were nearly run over by a van backing out. The watchword is vigilance! As there were several families waiting to go up the elevator we had to wait a bit.

Several agencies were there with their parties and our agency having four families getting children we were put into a room by ourselves off the main room. We were in the signing room. Our guide gaves us the order of how things would go and presently after giving us our TA the process was ready to begin.

Just prior though we saw baby after baby delivered to waiting families. A couple from Georgia we had met that morning at currency exchange, getting their first child – sweet to see.

Our group receiving children from Guangzhou SWI, Longgang SWI and the others I can not remember.

A family receiving an older girl, 13; a family receiving a girl, hearing impaired, a family receiving a 7 yo girl with limb issues and us receiving Heng Xin, 9.

Then it was our turn, we were the first family called and it was the take your breath away moment that she was about to appear.  Then suddenly there she was and pictures just didn't show how tiny she is.

We sorta knew she was shorter than her brother, who she is 13 months older than. The fears we had because of his behavior issues were not present and we were thankful. They seemed to hit it off very well.  Our son, the little gentleman.


Tian being silly.

New best friends.

Baba in a daze again.

Do I look happy?

Taking a picture.

Yu-Hsuan with his friend Megan Groat.

Miss Tian.

Our family of 5!

Close up of our family of five!


Last pictures received – one week before Gotcha Day.

Can I go too? Chester Bob sits in one suitcase hoping to go too.

Waiting to leave Atlanta for JFK via Delta Airlines.

Waiting to leave JFK for Beijing via Air China.

Yes we have the dazed look.

Last hours as a pair of siblings.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

May 2010 - November 2010

 10 May

One day closer

Head over heels in love

It is what it is - not my timing and I'm at peace in one sense, but longing in another.

When we adopted in 2008, we were told China was closed to us.  Yet, one month after we returned, China started calling again, but I said, can't be, we've been told, it is closed to us.  Try as I might, it would not, could not be buried, but kept coming back, calling me and so I was puzzled as to what it was.  After several months I said something to my wife about it, but still we were then both puzzled.

Then Memorial Day weekend, 2009, 3 things happened that transformed me.

I've heard tell of folks saying God opened certain doors for them.  In July, minding my own business, I landed on a web site about China and found a door of possibility, when I didn't even know a door was there.

More events happened, and the first record I find in my files regarding Star is 9/15, but the timing was not right, and then she was put on hold by another family, then suddenly not.  Finally my wife and I talked about the files of three 8 year old girls, on 11/19 and on 11/20 I contacted Madison that we were ready to move forward to adopt Star.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, the words started coming, for later consumption, of my telling to Star - my heart for her.


I used to love sunsets,
I really, still do.
But looking to the west,
I beyond it see,
My little daughter waiting for me.

Another day has passed,
A day we could not share.
The sun sets, yet still I stare,
I beyond it see,
My little daughter waiting for me.

Sunsets, sunsets, how many more?
Until I hold you close,
Sharing life with you?
Another day has passed, but
I beyond it see,
Sunrise – my daughter and me!

Tim, 6 Jun 2010

Point of Light

The sunlight now faded from sight,
The shadows of night ascending,
How will I find my way to you,
My little daughter waiting for me?

Twilight comes,
My little daughter wonders,
May I show baba the way?
Dusk settles, night comes.

The night grows darker,
A whisper echoes in my ear,
My little girl calls to me.
Baba?  Baba?  Do you see?

I stare into the night sky,
Her words haunting me.
There, high in the sky,
My special Star, lighting the way!

- Tim, 9 Jun 2010
Inspired by a friend

9 Sep

Last night - as I was putting our son to bed - he asked one of those questions - that puts one on the spot.

Yu-Hsuan - Daddy, does Star love me?  

Baba - She doesn't know you yet.  She has seen pictures of you.  In time, I'm sure she will, once she gets to meet you.

Yu-Hsuan - a sweet smile.

Now each night we go through the ritual of me talking to him in Chinese and English and after him I do the routine on the sheet beside his pillow with Star in mind.  After I do this, he leans over and kisses the sheet portion that I've been pointing to as I say this -

Wo ai ni.
Wo ai Star.

I love you.
I love Star.

Star ai baba, ma?
Star loves baba, dui?

All I can tell him at this point is that each day, we are one day closer to her.


A year ago today -

We found what we had sought - two children.
A boy.  A girl.

Two days later, devastation.
The words stung - matched with another family.
Gone, a son.
Written a week later -

Grace and mercy followed.
Thirty seven days passed,
My heart strings tugged
by a little girl half a world away.

In the latter days skittish to open mail,
Not wishing to see - matched.
Emotions about to burst,
dear spouse, may we review three files?

All girls, all eight, all beautiful.
Coming back to you though,
over and over I did.

Your file I held until last.
You had my heart.
Mama asked, what do you want to do?
I said, I want to adopt her.

Mama said yes that day and
now we are so close to bringing you home.

The son lost, is home now too.
Not forgotten, though not with us, always in our hearts.

- Tim  13 Oct 10

5 November

An email comes, from a family home with their new daughter.

There is a link to their blog.  I follow it and see in the heading a
picture of the new girl amidst the siblings.  I 'know' this girl from
somewhere else.

In the body though begins the pictures of the new one home, and
further down her new siblings.

Why do tears form?  Why does the screen go blurry?  This girl is home,
with her forever family.

Perhaps they are happy tears, for this little girl, home.
Perhaps they are longing tears for my own daughter, who I wish was home.

Why?  Please tell me why tears form.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Dec 2009 - May 2010

I think the best way to express the events of Star's adoption at this stage - now ready to fly to China tomorrow, is to post some of the writings I did while in the pursuit of Star.

Previously unpublished, 13 Dec 2009 - slightly edited:

Star bright

My little Star, I found you twinkling one day upon a web site, bright and beautiful you were. As time went by and I saw you again and again, your spirit shining through your smile stroked the strings of my heart until one day it seemed right for us to reach for you.

On that day, I asked mama if we could adopt you and she said yes. At that moment I became your very happy baba, knowing that from that point I would do all in my power to bring you home as soon as we could to live with your sister Tian and brother Yu-Hsuan, and with us, mama and baba.

.....You were the answer to the gentle tugging on my heart.....the angels were watching over you until I could find you and I thank them for doing so.

You are my shining Star.

We long to welcome you to our home, beyond the sea,
We hope to be a family of five you see.
We dream the very best for you.

4 Feb 2010
The Wait

Can you imagine?

I can not.

The Wait.

We decide to adopt a child.
We fill out scads of paperwork.
We send out various amounts of money in many directions.
Time passes and we wait for the milestone that comes next.
As time passes and passes and passes we become restless, thinking will this ever end?

Then one day, like spring after a long, cold winter, a ray of hope shines through the darkness. Word comes that it is now time to travel, time to bring our child home.


This is a parent's wait for a child to come and be with us forever, seen through our eyes.

But what of the child waiting on some distant shore?

A child comes to an orphanage by several circumstances though most found by the police or some other responsible person. If the child is old enough to remember, memory of the circumstance that brought them hence is ever fresh in their minds.

If a child is fortunate, others will comfort.

4 Feb 2010

"Happy Birthday sweetheart. I'd travel the world to find you again. Soon to be the mama of a son, you've been a great one for Tian."

Tonight we visited the same restaurant we did three years ago.  On that night I asked my wife what she wanted for her birthday.  She said - 'You know what I really want?'  and for once I did.  She wanted to adopt a girl from China.  So on that night I gave her that wish as my change began from reluctant husband to prospective father.

Never would I have believed, even then, that we would be where we are today.  As of this evening not only have we had our daughter, Tian, now 10, home nearly 23 months, but we are 3 weeks away from our son, Yu-Hsuan, 8 and on the verge of the home study being done for our second daughter, Star, 9.

Not only was it a happy birthday for my wife today, but a day full of the memories of just how far we've come in so short a time:

2007 was paper chase and learning the art of waiting. 

2008 was Gotcha day and the wonders of China plus our daughter and her former roommate, adopted out 15 months prior seeing each other again and opening lines of communication. 

2009 was finding a sibling, a brother, Yu-Hsuan for Tian and a new paper chase for him.  It was a year of another former roommate finding us, whom we were privileged to meet in China, on Gotcha day, adopted out 7 months after Tian.  It was also the year baba's heart was tenderized, the beginning of blogs, joining various Yahoo adoption lists, meeting so many wonderful parents the world over, beginning a Facebook presence, being challenged by a friend we met in China, learning more patience.  It was a year of education, asking questions, learning about a whole host of special needs and finding out that they were not scary, if one understood that a SN child is as loved as a NSN child in the eyes of God.  It was a year called again in mid-July to adopt again at which point the tugging stopped.  Seeking, finding, losing, heartbroken, finding and joy to burst the seams all rolled into one experience of intense emotions culminating with finding a sister for Tian, in Star, our third child, our third SN / WC.

2010 is well underway and while I know of two events I trust will occur in this calendar year, I know other events, yet unknown await us.  20 days from now, we'll have our son in our arms.  30 days from now we'll be on the verge of being home with him.  Some time later this year, we trust that Star will join us as well.  While 2010 is a year of new beginnings for us, it is also a year of endings - Tian loses only child status, my parents leave their home of 38 years to move to a facility where they can receive care, the generations are changing.

Yet through all these changes I am thankful, for I can say for sure that I have been blessed beyond my hopes and dreams by my wife, my child and children to be and folks like you.

19 Apr 2010

Love is a Choice

Many years ago, my wife told me that Love is not an emotion. It is a choice. There are emotional side effects.

Thus I choose to love a child I have not met, who I 'know' only through a few photos and videos, asked my wife if we could adopt. I chose to love this child whom others did not, would not. I chose to love this girl, who like me, is not perfect in physical attributes, whom others for their own reasons could not or would not accept.

I know that as the years roll on, my love for her will change, as I get to know her in physical presence but I will always love her.

The same was true when I dated my wife to be. I chose to love her and while the feelings have changed over the years, the choice still remains. My feelings towards my wife have changed midst the adoption process as I have seen a woman transform into a mother before my very eyes, to a new role.

In the midst of the adoption of our son my love for both my daughter and wife grew even deeper last May as it was pointed out how precious they ar
e to me.

Last fall we went for a little boy only to have him matched with another family. He is home now, across the ocean and though he has a family and I wish him well, he will always have a piece of my heart.

If you wish to color me a sentimental old fool, feel free.

5 May 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Door

China was calling.

Since the brothers fell through and then the one boy fell through as well, I started a path, to find 2 children. It seemed right to be seeking a boy and a girl.

We had another boy in our sights but no particular girl. Concentrating my efforts towards a known quantity I sought to get his name correct, for we only had it written down what it phonetically sounded like. We also sought a picture so we could seek his file. That information arrived in late September.

Meanwhile though I was also educating myself on Special Needs, finding many not to be the big scary things their names might imply to the uneducated but ones that we felt we could parent to, once I understood them. My wife in her job as a speech pathologist had come in contact with many SNs but I had not, thus I joined various Yahoo groups to ask many questions about various needs. With each series of questions asked, I was slowly able to build a laundry list of SNs we felt able to parent to.

Yet even though the education process was ongoing, I started looking at children's pictures, mainly girls.

On 9/15 a friend asked me if someone would be interested in Star. Again on 9/17 the same question, advocated her name to me. Her name became mentioned on the agency list on the same day and mention of one of her videos as well. I commented that her laughing video was the best.

Meanwhile, the search for the boy's file with picture in hand began in earnest on 10/1. The friend of 9/15 had suggested I contact a friend of hers who had contacts in China who could assist in the search. With name, location and picture in hand, I contacted this person who through contacts was able to confirm the boy's file had been sent upstream to CCAA.

10/13 - Notice received from agency looking for boy's file that his file had been found at CCAA. I was asked if we still wanted him. Yes, 100%. Elated I came home with the wonderful news.

On 10/13 agency rep posted that Star was off hold and asked folks to contact them if interested. Interested I contacted the agency.

On 10/15 - news came that the boy had been matched with another family - and we were crushed. A boy we had come to love with only a picture, a dream - was getting a family, but not with us. Notice was given that if for whatever reason the adoption didn't hold up, that we be placed on the queue to adopt him.

Yes, Providence had shown us a door we didn't even know existed. We took the ball and ran with it, instead of seeking guidance.

Looking back, I believe that in mercy we were given Star on the same day the boy's file was found because He knew that the boy would fall away from us.

On 10/20 a new post from the agency, saying Star was still available, so I resent my 10/13 email and the dance began, a more concentrated effort to select a child.

I fired questions back and forth to the agency, explained our circumstances - in the midst of an open ended adoption, time wise from Taiwan.

In early November, I started showing files to Tian, to get her reaction. Three girls - 1 - she doesn't smile; 2 - I want to be the oldest; 3 - intrigued by the same birth date, different year (Star), then said, that she liked the one older than her more.

By mid November two more girls were presented for review and so at some point I mailed the files to my wife of all 3 girls. I had been told the first one of the lot was knock down dead gorgeous and she was flat out. There were medical issues though that were rough and our area was not the place to bring a child with those sort of issues. She was also in a country that is hard to adopt from even in the best of circumstances.

Child two was a heart child, post operative but there was no connection that I could see from reviewing her files. It just wasn't there.

In a letter to a friend in mid-November I wrote in part: "We adopted our daughter at age 8. She'll be 10 next month (yep, same day as girl 1 above) [some would call that co-incidence, but I call it a God thing. Why would this girl above, of all the others pull at my heartstrings? Still my wife has to be on board before we can move forward.

Our son's adoption still in progress which will complete some time next year is 7 but turns 8 in January.

When I was 8, I moved from the only home I had known, to another area of the country where customs, people were different than what I was used to. I was though moving with my family instead of complete strangers.

For some reason, known only to God, it seems we are called to minister to children 8 years old or thereabouts - to adopt until He closes the door.

I know we've been called to adoption. I know that we've been called back to China and that He has now opened two doors for us, that we thought forever closed. Now all we need to do is step through those open doors. I do not have all the answers to the questions my wife raises. I can figure some of this out on my own but I have to wonder, if I do, how does that make me any different than those who don't know Jesus? It seems to me that God should get some glory out of this and if I figure it all out on my own....I guess my prayer would be that my wife, who is now the nuts and bolts person while I am the heart person, would step out in faith and let God take control of our situation."

Three days later, 11/19, I sat down with Ellen and looked at the three girls files. The first girl reviewed and why we would not proceed to adopt her, came out quickly. The second girl, the heart one, also discounted for us.

And last there was Star (Ma Hengxin). I explained her status of health.

At the end, Ellen asked me, 'What do you want to do?" I said, "I want to adopt this girl."

Thus began the path to Star.