Wednesday, November 11, 2020

A beautiful day for a run.....

If you’ve glanced over some of my other blog posts, you’re fully aware I’m not what one would call…”athletically inclined.” Despite this factor, I dipped my toe in ballet (kindergarten) and recreational sports all the way through grade and middle school. You could see me picking daisies in right field, kicking the soccer ball and bloodying the nose of a fellow teammate or eating the spoils of our sweet win (not due to my abilities) at the concession stand after our weekly softball games. 

So it may have come as a surprise to some when I made the decision to start running in 2011. To heave this body in a state of flight was going to be a feat of epic proportions. Yet…It was something I had always wanted to do. I would look out the window sometimes and say..gosh, what a beautiful day for a run. One day, I was tired of just saying it. I wanted to do it. 

I started my running journey with the couch to 5K app. When I began, I quite literally felt like I was going to die. My lungs were burning, my body ached….and this was after 30 seconds before falling back into a 2 minute walk. I felt that there was no way I was ever going to be able to do this. Yet the app didn’t have us jump immediately into running the 5 K. It was gradual. Each day I’d run just a little bit longer. Each day was building upon the other- increasing strength, Increasing endurance. Each day I was getting a little bit further a long. I started signing up for 5K’s…then 10K’s….then a half marathon. I was utterly hooked. I was running the race. 

I remember one night in particular, it was really late. I was running the alley’s of Taiwan; training for my half marathon. I loved running at night because the humidity wasn’t as stifling. I was trying for a 10 mile loop, but I was queasy, dizzy- a hot mess. I started staggering around…unsure if I could make it home. I had not prepared well for this run. I did not stretch or hydrate well and it was clear that this was showing in my sloppy display around the city. 

Cool Aly. Thanks. So……….is this really about running or is this just a clever parallel to running the race of life? Oh friends. You’re so smart. 
**Bear with me as I begin the running/marathon analogy. Feel free to tap out as needed.**
This month is National Adoption Month. Every part of my cliche running journey relates to that of our adoption journey. Adoption is achingly painful. Every. Single. Piece. Of. It. Painful to the bone.  For every person involved.  I love what my friend Jackie has written- “Adoption is Beautiful and holy but the need for it comes from brokenness, and love and family don’t fix all things. God is good and He is mighty but adoption is hard and being an orphan is not meant to be.” Hard words to swallow- but they resonate so, so deeply. 
If you know an adoptive family, you may have seen the hashtag we could have missed this next to their precious photos. I’ve caught myself a few times typing these words then erasing them…because I felt like a fraud. Because the moments in my pictures are a fragment of what we go through on a daily basis and they are not our norm. Because many times when my body is weary and I have not trained well for the day a piece of me wants to miss that moment. The moment of being screamed at, of having something thrown at me, of a house destroyed or a full on meltdown of epic proportions. Guilt and shame at some of my regrettable reactions to feeling out of control in my circumstances. But just as my first day of running was not a 10 mile run, my journey with these boys is not going to magically be one of smooth sailing. Please. This is motherhood. This race is gradual. One cannot fully enjoy the end of the race without the daily training and rough spots it takes to power through to the end. If we were to only get the sweet spots, there would be no growth, no increase of strength or endurance. You would not be well prepared for the next race at hand.

Alex came home at 1 1/2. He was fifteen pounds of precious. He did not sleep….for about 4 years. Guys? No-one is built for that. There were days I was full on hysterical. Delirious. We were living in a foreign country and I was depleted. I had a unit of 4 women that were my sanity. My girlfriend Candace would walk with me. Every. Day. We would walk the streets of Hiroshima, get a coffee, put Alex in the stroller and just get outside. It was his happy place- and Candace knew what I needed. She supported and loved on us in a way I can never ever thank her for. She would listen. These girlfriends were my people; holding signs during this season of my life race saying, you got this. WE got you. You are not alone

At the end of my first half marathon, I felt exhilarated, nauseous, in excruciating pain. I bawled. I had trained so long, and I had finished the race. Later that day, I swore I would never do it again…..

Bowman came home at 6. I think I am still in a state of shell shock quite frankly. After all, this is a race I said I would not run again. The adjustment we are still going through, mirrors that of the other two boys. Similarly, I surrounded myself with trainers and exhorters. Now back in the U.S., I had a small, trusted network of friends who were holding signs and giving me water throughout yet another race. Jenni, who would call and hear in my voice that one or two of the boys needed to be picked up ASAP. Friends who would drop coffee on the doorstep instead of asking how I was doing…...Listen to me when I say…you do not need to be the one running the race. Hold the sign. Pass the water, be the listener. Be the village. Love on those kids, because sometimes mom and dad have nothing left in the tank to give. 

We are not in control. At the end of the day our kids may leave and never look back…that’s just not what it’s about. This race is one of brokenness, hope, redemption and redeeming love. Our race in life should be one of discomfort and growth- one of strength and endurance. 
While the road is rocky and the days are hard…’s all worth it. Every moment. While we are running our race, we are teaching our boys to run theirs as well. Teaching them to start slow, not to sprint, find their pace, hydrate, ask for support, let us in and hold their arms and run with them. 

I’m so glad that I’m not still staring out the window on a beautiful day simply saying- wow, what a beautiful day for a run. Think of what I could be missing right now. 

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Just a glimpse....

I close my eyes briefly and lean into Will. I think back to when the boys were…..well….boys. The days that I would be curled up in the fetal position crying my eyes out in the back of the bathroom praying they wouldn’t find. me. THEY ALWAYS FOUND ME. 
The days that felt endless. The days that I felt less than. The days I cried out to the heavens and God to just help me through the next minute. 
Fifteen years ago. 
And now. 
Now I lean into my husband and take in the scene playing out before me. 
The crowd is immense. Everyone is holding their breath as the young man completes his parallel bar routine. Flawless. 
Only when he stuck his landing did he open his eyes and look up in our direction. His magnetic smile is electric and the tears start pouring down my face. The four of us stand and roar in amazement. He did it. HE DID IT. 

Alex didn’t find his voice until Jia-Ming entered our home. Let's be honest. For the first five years upon Jia-MIng coming home, I didn’t think we would make it. You may not want to know this, but in adoption? It’s not always an instantaneous love match. It takes SO much time. SO much patience. So much of all the things you don’t think you have in you..but that surface because of faith, family, and your village. 
In fact, it took both Jia-Ming AND Alex both, five years from entering their new family to finally feel like they could breathe. That they could lean in and know that despite their behaviors and verbalizations…that they were not going anywhere. They were a Cooper for life. 
But Alex. That boy stole my heart from day one. I think it was his size. His vulnerability and the need to be held and loved on. Maybe it was the three of us that held him back. That babied him too much. He never really had to “stand up” for himself. Wyatt and Alex were always thick as thieves. Wyatt bending over backwards and carrying him and just doting on him endlessly. Alex was just easy to love. 
Enter Jia- Ming. 
While Alex did not lose his birth order placement…still the baby; he did all of a sudden gain a brother 9 months older. A very VERY verbal brother. He suddenly discovered that if he wanted to be heard at all, he would have to speak up. He would not only have to speak up, he would have to stand up for himself as well. 
Will and I watched this transition take place gradually over many years. It was beautiful to behold….like a flower bud that you know will be stunning in full bloom, but you’re just never sure if you will see it in all of its glory. 
I think back over the past decade and a half…of the verbal and physical fights between those two. Of their differences…their commonalities…their desire to discover who they are, where they come from. SO many questions. Jia-Ming, the big powerhouse, but Alex finding the ability to step out of that broad shadow and create his own identity and following his heart and passion. Watching his skill today and all that his hard work and the fruit of his labor had born, I could not be more proud…and I knew that his brother had propelled him there.

Will seems to read my mind and weaves his strong fingers through mine. He squeezes and looks over at Wyatt. I follow his gaze and smile to myself. Our Wyatt. The child whom I swore I would never have, then once he arrived I promised would be an only child. A mother brags on their child for sure….but Wyatt. He’s a special one.  He has a heart that is bent towards helping and serving others. I was so worried when we were in the adoption process with Alex. The stress of the process, then the stress of Alex’s arrival. The sleepless nights, my irritability….so many regrets and things I look back on wishing I could change. Wyatt was always willing to help me out, but I never noticed just how much he had emotionally grown until Jia-Ming came home. Jia-Ming tried desperately to alienate everyone in the family, while simultaneously trying to squeeze drops of love out of us like blood from a stone. I could not have made it through those five years without Wyatt. He rarely ever complained. He jumped in to watch the boys, to let me go for a run, to just catch my breath. Wyatt learned to read my mood and knew when he needed to step it up. He learned to read Jia-Ming’s face and hug him tight, even when Jia-Ming pretended he didn’t care. I watched Wyatt painfully learn how to not favor one brother over another, and to empathize with his brothers' emotions. Particularly Jia-Ming, who came home at the age of six and was in a very pained emotional state. Wyatt, just entering adolescence and trying to cope and handle all the emotions and feelings that come from beginning puberty, was also learning and coping and empathizing with a six year old who did not know how to handle his. Wyatt would in these scenarios,  without question, grab Alex, leave the house or room without needing to be asked. He was just a constant presence that I could not have lived without. 
And here he was. A twenty eight year old married man, in the midst of the adoption process himself. A man with a heart for children who are hurting and in need of a father. A man of integrity, strength, and humor. A man who would not have turned out the way he did without his unique life experiences. I wish that I hadn’t wasted so much precious time worrying and fretting. God was holding him in the palm of his hand the entire time…and the result was breathtaking. 
As if he could read my thoughts he turned to me, half grinning half rolling his eyes. Typical. 
We all looked at the judges scores…each of us sucking in our breath.

“C’MON"……I heard Jia-Ming talking aloud as he was waiting on the results. He had finally cut his long hair. It hung thick and wavy in front of his eye. I begged off the urge to push it out of his site line; instead lightly brushing his scarred cheek with my fingers. That damn scar was still there from when he decided clinging to the cement post was a great idea.  I refrain from going back to that place. It’s hard not to. Because this young man. This young man with his new heart….
*sigh* I would have never thought over a decade ago that MY heart could hold so much love for him. It had been such a long journey to get to this point. A journey that had broken me into a million pieces.  Over the years these pieces were put back together, to form something different, something lovely. He brought me to my knees in prayer. He forced me to seek and cry out to my village for help. To be less selfish. To be more humble. To be more forgiving. To be more Christ-like. 
With closed eyes, I let myself go back there…to that place. To those days of grieving and mourning what I believed was lost in that moment. 

Grieving and mourning you ask? Absolutely.

To grieve is to feel sorrow, to distress mentally…. And I did. I grieved over having emotionally and behaviorally, nontypical children. I grieved over not having a day that was filled with therapy or Dr. appointments of some type, whether it was speech or attachment therapy, cardiologist, endocronologist or neurologist appointments… I grieved for the days that were once not filled with screaming, thrown objects and punches and smacks across my face. Grieving and mourning all the days lost with my family unit as half of us had to leave the vicinity so as not to become a casualty in a fit of rage. 
I remember my village at that time telling me that it was OK to grieve and mourn these losses. This path we chose was the road less traveled, and it was a rocky one. Did I get stuck in this place of grief? No. But I allowed myself to feel and work through it. 

I open my eyes. And here we are. I glance over and see JIa-Ming looking at me. He sees me in a way the two others do not. While Wyatt and I have similar temperaments, he is not as observant as our Jia-Ming. Jia-Ming "gets it" and sees people on an entire different level. A young boy who knew to much to soon. Feeling him reading my thoughts I reach out. He grasps my hand in a way that tells me I am loved by him. A feeling I was never sure would be reciprocated. 
My breath catches. Again.
We all stare down at the competitors. Alex. HIs numbers are in. We are all on our feet. He has done it. 

I think back to when my boys were 6, 7 and 13….If our choices had been different. If we decided to stop at a family of four. It would have been the equivalent of clipping the wings of my sons for an easier "right now." This present moment that I was experiencing would never be happening. These men would never have become these men because they would not have been able to sharpen one another to be who they were meant to be. 

** As I am working through the grieving process now, this story gives me hope. Hope for the future, for the men my boys are becoming **

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Five Years Strong.

"Fear you don’t own me
There ain’t no room in this story
And I ain’t got time for you
Telling me what I’m not
Like you know me well guess what?
I know who I am
I know I’m strong
And I am free
Got my own identity
So fear, you will never be welcome here"

It’s been a tough season. Tears streamed down my face as this song came on the other day while running countless errands in the car. I began thinking of this current season I am in and how paralyzing fear and unknowns can potentially be. 

Thinking of past seasons and what could have been if we had let fear instead of trusting God take root, I turned around and looked at our Alex. Alex, who is so very quiet, but feels so, SO deeply, watched me, with tears streaming down my face as the words to this song played around us.  My sweet boy, feeling my heart so deeply, also began crying. With silent tears streaming down his face, I pulled over the car, unbuckled my boy, and held him on the side of the road until we both nestled into one another and settled down. 

If we had let fear rule our hearts, I would have never known the depth of a love this deep. 
This boy, our son, whose referral we waited, prayed and waited some more for. This boy who was presented to us with so many unknowns; premature, birth complications, speech and fine motor delays. The paperwork, the waiting, the big business of it all. 
Our boy who arrived and overcame. Ceaseless head-banging, sleepless nights filled with night terrors and uncontrollable emotional outbursts. Delays, and scary diagnoses and evaluations that spoke of autism and cerebral palsy. Neurological evaluations, Growth Hormone tests, speech therapy and occupational therapies….What if fear and the unknowns ruled our hearts?
In the thick of the season of when Alex came home, I could never have imagined half a decade later that we all would have grown so much…he has come so SO far. WE have come so far.

A few days ago Alex and I were in the car yet again and a familiar song came on the radio….
"Fear you don’t own me
There ain’t no room in this story
And I ain’t got time for you
Telling me what I’m not
Like you know me well guess what?
I know who I am
I know I’m strong
And I am free
Got my own identity
So fear, you will never be welcome here"

Had you been anywhere near our car you could have heard the two of us belting out these lyrics together. Fear IS NOT and WILL NOT be part of our story. Fear is not welcome here. We may be scared about all of our unknowns but we can remain confident that what we cannot see God can- and he’s got this. 


Wednesday, June 12, 2019


mass noun
  • 1The state or fact of continuing to live or exist, typically in spite of an accident, ordeal, or difficult circumstances.

I see her from a distance- her look of despair, the tears of frustration threatening to become unleashed as she tries to hold her son’s hand. I witness the rejection and the mothers’ features as they slump further forward…her mind going to dark places. 
I see her sleeping in the twin bed in her youngest son’s room because the thought of sleeping next to a stranger who was abusive to her all day was just too much to bear. 
I see her eyes fill with tears at the morning light because she just. Does. Not. Want. To. Get. Out. Of. Bed. To face another day of being screamed at with words she does not understand. The unknowing being the worst. Would it be a good day, or would today be all fight or flight? I see her mind saying the best place to stay is in bed. 
I see her in public places- fake smile barely plastered on as people cheerily ask how it’s going, as they are mid stride walking away, not ready for the response that she can barely make it through the day. 

Lean in! Talk to someone- you can make it!!! You are stronger then this! I want to shout these to her- make her hear that this was not her burden to shoulder alone. 
I could see her desire but felt her shame. 
Shame of feeling the absence of maternal love. 
Shame of seeing a stranger not a son.
Shame at her bitterness, shame at her resentment. 
Shame at her emotional response to a six year old’s rejection. 
Shame of her deep, deep hidden hurts from a far-away past life bubbling and simmering close beneath the surface. 
Shame at saying any of this out loud. 

I see him from a distance, his looks of anger, defiance, fear, and sadness. So many unknowns. So much loss. 
I see him laughing and smiling, desperate to fit into this strange new culture. I see his exhaustion, his lack of understanding,
I see the wringing of his hands, the picking of his nails- wearing his anxiety as a heavy cloak around his scarred body.
I see him clinging to his Baba like a lifeline. This big, strong man before him displaying the character of a Jesus he does not know. I see him looking at this woman who calls herself mama. His insecurity- His uncertainty and silent knowing that she would certainly leave him as many of the women in his life have left him before. 
I see him rejecting her, this woman he calls mama, before HE is the one rejected; his broken heart only being able to take so much.

You are safe! You are secure! Lean in! I wanted to shout this to him, but know these are futile words to a boy who has never had a home or a forever family to call his own. 
I could see his desire and shame like an open wound.
Shame of not feeling as if he is enough.
Shame of his physical aggression and loss of control.
Shame of his inability to love the way he wants to be loved.
Shame of his deep, deep hurts from a not so far away past that is bubbling and simmering close beneath the surface. 

Let me tell you this. The past two and a half months have felt like an out of body experience. I have been floating above myself…watching this dynamic between my son and I. My head knew that this was all going to happen. That adjustment blows. That the language and culture barrier was going to be horrific. That his trauma was going to spew everywhere and leave no prisoners. Knowing and living it out are two different stories.  

This past week I’ve left the house with all the children. I’ve gone to a friend’s house. I’m not retreating, I’m leaning in. I’ve unpacked my suitcase from China. I know. Gross. 

Today? Today he leaned in. He held my face in his hands and my breath caught in my throat. You know what I saw? Hope. 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Wyatt turns 12

I get super emotional on December 2nd. EVERY December 2nd. 
My boy is getting so very big. Bigger kids= Big momma feels. And let me tell you, it's a weird mix of momma feels. Time, as everyone says, is indeed flying by. I'm not lamenting time lost or shoulda woulda, coulda's.... I'm simply enjoying this fine young man before me.
My eldest is so patient with me as I navigate through these uncharted waters. Everything we go through with this boy is a first. As soon as we think we have this parenting thing figured out, we end of circling back.... Through it all? Wyatt teaches me to be my best self. He accepts my apologies, my requests for forgiveness, and we both try just a little bit harder....(most days!)
I've learned to cherish our early mornings together..replete with snuggles while sharing a cup of coffee and tea through bleary eyes.  
I love his frustration over my lack of fortnight dancing skills..but that he challenges me to epic Just Dance competitions anyway. 
I adore that he'll curl up on the couch and indulge me while we watch yet ANOTHER Hallmark movie. 
His passion and his ability to talk you into tomorrow on any topic whether he knows about it or not brings me to tears of pride and hysteria. 
I love his innate ability to read my emotions; checking in with me, seeing if I'm OK, giving me a hug without being asked, holding my hand in the car during stressful Alex moments, ALL because he notices that his mama has a weary heart. 
I cherish his tender, servant heart and his willingness and excitement to work with the little kids at church. 
His big brother skills? The Wyatt has a unique ability to love his brother in a way that will bring tears to your eyes every. single. time. 

Simply put- Wyatt is one of my most precious gifts and I'm so glad I get to celebrate him today.  

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Big Feels

It is adoption awareness month. I feel like I’ve written down my journey and talked about it so many times- but I’m pretty sure the majority of those are the blog posts in my head. If not, perhaps it bears repeating….at least for my mental health. 
Recently I was reminded by a friend that the more we talk about our struggles and are open, others are sometimes better for it. This may or may not be true for some, but at the end of the day I always prefer transparency and honesty to a facade of togetherness. From experience, that wall can only stand on its own for so long before it crumbles to the ground crushing you beneath it. 

If you’ve seen my son- you know that what I’m about to say is true. He is FREAKING ADORABLE. His smile is just…well, it’s just magic. If he shines that grin upon you, you will feel as if he’s given you a special gift. 
I treasure that smile, because some days? Some days are really hard. I say this not to betray my son- but as a way to embrace mama and babas that are struggling to keep it together...Cause I know from experience that when my kid has big emotions,  mine generally follow as well. . I’m still figuring out how to deal. How to help my little guy deal. 

Talk a mental walk with me for a moment. A little glimpse into our day-
I’m up, caffeinated, in my favorite chair, reading my devotions, catching up on facebook, (having already sent Wyatt off to school) when my sweet Alex comes running, “sneaking” around the corner, grinning ear  to ear, bouncing into my lap for 5 seconds while I nuzzle his neck, kiss his face and smell his hair. I savor this moment- because I’m not sure what the rest of the day will hold. But for this 5 seconds we settle into one another; intuitively knowing that this hug is desperately needed to start the day right- if even just for this 5 seconds. Because 5 seconds later, like many 5 year olds I know, this mood can change in an instant. It could be due to offering him the wrong beverage, shirt, or his not wanting to wear socks on this particular day. Really, who’s to know? In this respect he is like every other 5 year old in the world. I know you mommas of 5 year olds feel me on this. 
What sets him apart from many other 5 year olds is his history. The deep, deep layer of trauma that lays bubbling beneath the surface. 
Let’s face it- adoption in itself can be traumatic. Put yourself in that precious child’s shoes for a moment. The separation from the mama's voice heard while in utero…being brought to a place filled with strange voices in a strange place with other children. The lack of necessary stimulation and attention leading to the development of self soothing behaviors,  survival skills and necessary coping skills - just to get through the day. A new family arrives, taking him from the only environment he’s ever known, to learn new things, taste new foods, learn a new language. Exciting things, scary things……his brain is ignited and the stress response ensues. 
Today I turned off the warm shower Alex was under after swimming lessons without warning. 
That action I would pay for for the rest of the day. To do something without warning, was paramount to tragedy in his brain. Often times the fight response is ignited and I have to choose my next words and actions carefully. He is hurting. His developing brain has not learned the appropriate responses because all he was worrying about for the first year and a half of his life was to survive. Sometimes I choose poorly. The good news is...I ALWAYS get a redo. 

I never want to purposely diminish what he views as important compared to what I view as important. There is a significant disparity between what I view as a stressor and what he does. That shower was warm, it was soothing, comforting- and then without any warning it was ripped away. I had not given appropriate warning, I had not verbally given him a chance to prepare that this wonderful relaxing moment was going to end. The fact that we were running late to school and needed to eat lunch, and pick up the backpack I had forgotten at home was of absolutely no consequence to him. I turned off his shower- and he reacted. It is moments like this ALL through the day. Many times in hind site and reflection I can see why he reacted the way he did. In the moment? SO much more difficult. 
I lean into what I know. This. He feels safe with me. He knows I will love him regardless of his behavior. His behavior is NOT who he is. It is a symptom of his trauma that piece by piece we will work through at developmentally appropriate ages. 

Why take the risk on adoption..on a child, whom, in many cases you have no idea a thing about their history, or family background? Why you ask? Because adoption is life transforming. I have a strong faith, and for me, that translates beautifully into the picture of adoption. I have been adopted into the family of Christ. My Heavenly Father has unfathomable love for me. He is my protector, his is my rock, my stronghold. The fact that I can bestow love onto a child that is fatherless is a GIFT. 
The question been brought forth before- What if he turns his back on you one day? Says you aren’t my real mother? Well, I certainly didn’t get into this journey to be loved. It is a hard, yet rewarding road. I’m not in it for the promise of adoration or accolades. Will and I are to love our children well, to spill out the love that we have from our FATHER onto our children. There is never the promise that this will be returned..nor should we ever give with the expectation of getting back. That is not the purpose or intent of this journey. Alex is not lucky we adopted him. We are not heroes for adopting him. We are not good or special for loving our son into our family. The last thing I’d ever want is for someone to say I admire you. Please don’t. 

What I have learned on this adoption journey is for goodness sake, Aly, this is not about you. It has taken me a long time to get to the place (and still!) try not to view his behaviors as a personal attack. He is growing- learning to trust, processing his past, his present…what exactly that all means. When his brain is filled at that moment with all the feelings and all the thoughts, the propensity for him to explode is high. 
What does this mean of me. As a frazzled, emotionally and physically worn down mother...what does this mean? 
It means I need to seek help. Help is not synonymous with being weak. Going to a therapist to obtain more coping skills to help me help my son is planning, not giving up. Joining a support group of parents who get it, all the trials, pain and deep hurts is not weak. Being honest is NOT weak. 
Alex has taught me to love more deeply. He has taught me to be more empathetic. He has taught me patience. He has taught me to rely on my Jesus and not on self help books. He has taught me to slow down. He has taught me better time management. He has taught me to embrace, love and appreciate my family of origin- to appreciate the ability to KNOW them. He has taught me that help is not weakness. He has taught me to be transparent and to open myself up to having deep friendships. I feel that the Lord has used this child to transform our lives. He is so so precious. My heart could nearly burst at what I wouldn’t do for him- and it makes it so much sweeter that my Father feels the same for me. 
So yes . Adoption is not for the weak of heart-BUT... it will break you down and mold you into the best person you could possibly be. Trust me. 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Bringing home Jia Ming...aka Bowman...

I hadn’t slept in like 3 years. It was the end of October at the end of a week where I thought Alex and I may not make it.  I was at my wit’s end. I felt my emotions spilling over. I was thoroughly and utterly depleted. 

The Skype call came in at 2 am.  It was my girlfriend who lives in China. I had met her the previous summer and bonded with her over her adoption stories with her girls. 
I looked down at my phone, wondering if I should pick up…….but she was calling from China. 
I took the call.

I heard the story of Jia-Ming. 
Five years old…aging out of the baby home. She was fighting, advocating relentlessly to find him a family before it was too late. Older children with significant medical conditions are hard to find homes for. Jia-Ming has half a functioning heart…incomplete   paperwork….lots of unknowns. Efforts to find him a family would grow increasingly difficult once he left his current placement.
Here he is right now visiting with us for awhile….he popped onto the screen. 
“Oh friend,” I replied…”I just don’t think so. Surely I know people within my adoption community who may be open to all these unknowns”….Think about it  was the statement posed to me. 
I started the excuse making. My insecurities and shame issues started to creep up. No way. Two kids is my cap. I can’t. I won’t. I shouldn’t. 

Friends…God had other plans. 
My girlfriend had sent me a number of pictures….and videos. It was the wee hours of the morning before I fell asleep..brain spinning, stomach churning, heart fluttering. 
Just mere hours later I nudged a barely waking Will. I told him our friend had called. I showed him the pictures….told him the health concerns..waiting for the definitive absolutely not!!
It never came. 
After speaking more at length, praying, more praying..talking to the boys, we began to pursue Jia-Ming’s file. As I worked the next couple weeks tracking down his information, contacting agencies, sending inquiries to physicians, and starting the process to once again begin the grueling paper trail that I never saw myself doing again, I could not help but simultaneously sigh and chuckle. 

In the midst of breaking down, plaguing myself with negative self talk…the Lord had already been softening my heart. In the midst of my emphatic No’s , he was opening doors that I didn’t see possible. 

If you’ve read my adoption posts before when we were on our journey to Alex, or if you haven’t, but have been on the adoption or foster care journey yourself…you know the path is rocky. There is a delicate balance of the scales….always holding your breath. Emotions are running high. Paper work is filled out. Clearances are run. Checks are sent. Birth certificates are ordered…. Again. More checks are sent out. Trainings are watched. Books are taken out of the library. Children are being prepared. The house is getting cleaned out. Updates are given. Pictures are sent. Pictures are received. Promises are made. Prayers. Prayers and more prayers. Dr.’s are emailed. Cardiac support groups are sought out. Money is raised. Grants are applied for. Little by little my heart is opening. Opening to the hope of a child that is not yet ours. Everything is fragile….anything could happen and in a moment’s notice this little boy…OUR little boy could be ripped away. 
Prayers. Prayers. More prayers. 
Recently I have found so much comfort in this verse. 
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be JOYFUL in God my Savior.”
Habakkuk 3:17-18
This season of my life has been about finding JOY in the dry spells. Being joyful in my savior when times are hard because he is there, carrying us through.
Yes. There are unknowns. Yes, the WHOLE process may fall through and It’s hard putting your heart out there if you’re not for sure it can be definitively returned. But the reality is, a piece of our heart is sent out in each document that is signed, notarized and mailed. That is the beauty of hope. That is the beauty and richness in knowing that my faith is filling in the gaps. Our sweet boy is going through this right now as well. A promise…..a promise of of brothers, a home…a mother and father who will love him. what must his five year old self be thinking? I pray that he too shares hope and faith that we are fighting for him….preparing a home for him, just as our father is doing for us. 

So many have supported us on this unexpected journey thus far. Many have asked how they can support us. 
Will and I are applying for grants to help ease the burden of the adoption fees in hopes that we can maintain our savings for Jia-Ming’s unknown health and heart condition. Our recent yard sale provided us with a great start up fund for a medical checking account for when he comes home. 
Other friends have generously offered to host parties in which a portion of the proceeds will go towards the adoption. 
At this time we’re not comfortable setting up a go-fund me page. Those who have wanted to make a donation of some sort have contacted me and donations have gone into Jia-Ming’s medical savings account. 

We are overwhelmed by the love of our friends and family throughout this process. We have such an amazing village to raise our boys to be fine men- it makes my heart sing. 

Please connect with me if you have question about our adoption..or anything about the process. I try to be as transparent as possible and would love to chat. 

From one of my adoption sites: He who calls you to this work will be faithful to equip you for the work he has called you to.

“For the God who calls you is faithful, and He can be trusted to make it so.” — 1 Thessalonians 5:24