Not too long ago I was reading Tonggu Momma's blog at www.ourlittletongginator.blogspot.com. She is another momma that received her referral the same day that we did and our girls are even from the same orphanage. Anyway, because she had been so diligent to blog throughout her journey she was able to reflect back on what she was doing the day her daughter was born. I thought to myself, how cool is that, to know what you were doing on the day your daughter was born. I knew that for a period of time I stepped away from blogging for several reasons but mainly because the wait was just so dang hard. However, I left the Tonggu Momma's website and hopped on over to my own to see if for some reason I just possibly may have made an entry that day. April 27, 2010, the day Emma was born. No such entry. I was disappointed in myself, beating myself up for not being more faithful to journal.
A week or so later my friend Katie had texted me one morning and told me that she had been up in the night and had been praying for Emma and for her birth mom and then she said that she had something she wanted to talk with me about whenever I got around to calling her. So, I soon called her and she began asking about the pre-term labor that I had with Ethan. She couldn't remember when that started but knew it was about a month before Ethan was actually born. I had been in triage three times before Ethan arrived and so we where both trying to talk through the time line. Katie thought that it would be interesting to see how that lined up to the timing of Emma's birth.
While still on the phone, I jumped on the computer and pulled up my Google calendar and hit the arrow back button to the month of April, 2010. I soon had chill bumps as I realized that on Sunday, April 25, 2010 is when I started having some bleeding and called the on-call doctor. He suggested not to worry but to just take it easy. Come Monday, the 26th, I wanted to be checked out and so I called and talked to my OB/GYN and she suggested that I go on in to triage and she would meet me there. The next thing I knew she was talking about possibly having to take Ethan by c-section. I was 50% effaced and 2cm dilated. I ended up spending Monday night in triage for observation and when the doctor checked me the next morning there had been no change. She then cleared me to go home Tuesday, April 27, and stay on bed rest.
No wonder I had no journal entry the day Emma was born. Just as Emma's birth mother was in labor, I too was trying to go into labor for Ethan. When you consider the 13 hour time difference, I was having contractions at the same time Emma's birth mother was having contractions to bring her into this world.
After coming to the realization of what had happened on April 27, 2010, I had to try and wrap my mind around this. I was almost speechless. As a matter of fact, I haven't spoken to anyone about this except Matt and my mom before this moment. But today, I feel like it's time. You see, I don't believe in luck or chances but I believe in a powerful God who is sovereign. Everything is under His control. Somehow I feel like God united two momma's together, from the opposite sides of the world, who have a heart for the same little baby girl.
I can't help but think about that momma tonight. What she must have been thinking and feeling one year ago. I'm sad that we will never know. As a momma myself I can only assume how she must have felt to let go of her little girl, hoping for a better life for her. I sure wish I could let her know that the little girl she gave birth to is loved so deeply and will be taken good care of. I wish I could say "thank you!" My heart goes out to that birth mother, who no doubt will be thinking of Emma once again this year.
It is now 10:00 pm as I sit here on my bed blogging tonight. In China, it is 11:00 am, April, 27... Emma's first birthday. My heart is so broken that I'm missing my baby girl's first birthday. I prayed that we would be together but for what ever reason, this is the way God has laid out this journey for us. This is His perfect timing. I don't understand. Why does Emma have to be alone on her first birthday. Will anyone in the orphanage even realize she's turning one. Will anyone hold her today and tell her that she is special. Will someone tell her that her daddy and momma are coming to get her real soon and that there will be no more birthdays alone.
When I think about the pain and heartache that Emma has already suffered I just wish I could erase it all. But I can't, this is all a part of her life story. I'll close with a quote that brings me peace: You cannot amputate your history from your destiny...My past is something Jesus takes hold of and makes into a destiny. That's called redemption. ~ Beth Moore
This adoption journey has run us through every emotion imaginable. The good, the bad and the ugly have all been a part of this process and sometimes all at once. Today was one of those days. I sat down today to begin filling out more forms that we need to take to the Consulate appointment, at the U.S. Embassy, which will occur at the end of our trip.
The very first form on the checklist I tackled was the I-604, Determination on Child for Adoption. This is a form we are filling out on behalf of our child and it was exciting to begin writing our baby girl's name for the first time... Emma Katriel Jiana Hampton. I'm going along following the excellent example that our agency included in our packet, no problems. Until I get to page 2, question 9 and this is what I read:
Intended child is an orphan because: Mother -- Abandoned Father -- Abandoned
Man, that word abandoned jumped off the page at me and just smacked me across the face. The next thing I knew tears where filling my eyes as I had to check that abandoned box.
What's weird is that this comes to no surprise to me. I knew that this is the way it works in China. A mother must abandoned her child somewhere, where that child will quickly be found, so that she will not suffer punishment herself. So why did that word hurt so bad today? Is it because I have a little face to put to that word and so it becomes more real? I don't know but I hurt so badly for my little one who has suffered great loss so early in her life.
As I struggled with these sad emotions today the Lord brought to mind a couple of verses from Scripture. He spoke these verses to me, just when I needed them most. The first is in Psalm 68:5 when He tells us that God is a father to the fatherless. Even though my baby has not had an earthly father, she has had the Father of all fathers watching over her and caring for her. A Father who created her in His image, and for His glory. She is so very special.
The second passage was one that had been one of Eli's memory verses, and that is Hebrews 13:5b-6a, I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you, so that we confidently say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid". To know that the God of the universe has never abandoned Emma, now that brings comfort to this momma's heart who is hurting so bad for her daughter.
God, Thank you so much for your promises, promises that are true and we can stand on. Thank you for choosing me to be Emma's momma, long before the foundation of the world was laid. It is a privilege to have this call on my life.
Thank you God that you are with her all the time. Hold my baby tight until I can wrap my arms around her. And please, make that happen fast. Don't let her be an orphan for one more day than she has to. ~ Amen
Well, I can check one more thing off my "to do" list. Today I was able to mail off Emma's care package. It wasn't much but I do pray that God's hand will be upon that package and that it will indeed reach our little girl. So much thought went into this package. I about drove myself crazy thinking of what we should send. Initially, we had picked out a really cute, soft blanket that had lady bugs all over it. I mean who doesn't like cuddling up with a nice soft blanket. We had then picked out this precious stuffed pink bunny. We also assembled a baby friendly photo album, which included pictures of the family, as a group and then individually. We included a disposable camera and then finally, some Almond Roca for her nanny's.
We knew very well that there would be a real possibility that what we send may never come back with her and so that had me re-thinking the blanket and the bunny. I thought of how hard it may be to keep those type items clean in an institutional setting. And I really, really want her to have this blanket and bunny. So, I decided that I would pack those items in my suitcase and hand deliver them to her on "Gotcha Day". I want to have something that she can cuddle as she grieves.
So, off to Babies R Us we went trying to find something maybe a little easier for the orphanage to deal with. Especially if it will be something they keep. We know that Emma likes toys that make noises and so we bought a couple of cute little toys to keep her, or her friends, entertained.
I was also able to have a letter translated in Chinese for the caretakers. I only hope they can understand how grateful we are to them for taking care of Emma during her time there at the orphanage. In the letter we also asked if they would please use the camera to take lots of photos, which would be a real treasure to Emma later on. I pray that we get back this camera back, completely used up.
I also had translated Momma, Daddy, big brother, Eli, little brother and Ethan. I then attached them to each photo in the album. My prayer is that her nannies will set down with her and began to teach her who we are. I'm also praying that when she meets us for the very first time, she will recognize our faces and not be nearly as scared. I've been praying for some time now that God would some how, as only He can do, work in her heart and prepare her little heart for us. I pray that somehow she will feel safe and loved, even if she is not ready to love us back. She is so loved, unconditionally and will be forever and always!
Wow, things have been just a little busy around here and so I'm having a hard time blogging fast enough to keep up with what's happening. I don't want to forget anything that happens during this process and so you'll have to forgive me but I'm going to back up and reflect on the celebration we had on our referral day.
When we made the call to tell our dear friends Kyle and Katie about the referral, it wasn't too long until we get a call asking us if we were up to partying. They are so invested in Emma's life that they were extremely excited about the fact that Emma was finally coming home.
This was just the beginning of our celebrations that weekend. We celebrated Saturday with my parents by having lunch at Red Lobster. We celebrated Saturday evening with dinner at the Crazy Buffet, which is a Chinese restaurant that Matt just had to go to. Sunday morning we continued our celebration by heading off to church early enough to have a doughnut and share the good news with everyone we saw. What a wonderful weekend of celebration.
Well, today was another big day. We have signed all necessary papers to officially accept Emma as our daughter. I don't think I could have signed the acceptance form quick enough. I examined each form over and over again to make sure there were no mistakes and then I headed off to the closest Fed Ex location. It looks like the home office of Bethany should receive the packet by the end of the week. Bethany will then wait until they receive all the packets from each family in our travel group and then they will mail all of them off to China. Once these documents are received by the China Center of Adoption Affairs(CCAA), we will travel 6 to 8 weeks later.
Many want to know what is next, well I will now start focusing on filling out the paperwork for our visas and I would love to have them completed by the weekend. We will then try to start working hard to gather up all the stuff we will need to pack for our two week stay in China. I am so thankful that we had already begun a checklist of things to do and a packing list. Now it is time to tackle the list with full gusto. We've got to "pack our bags for the hospital" if you will, so that we will be ready to jump on that plane when my water breaks.
The long awaited package finally arrived Monday morning and earlier than expected. I was expecting UPS to deliver around 10:30, according to the tracking information, but all of a sudden that big brown truck pulled up in front of the house around 9:30. I ran to get my camera and the driver thought I was just a little crazy wanting to take his picture. I know all of you adoption mommas out there can relate to this craziness.
I was once again shaking as I opened that special package. I pulled out a stack of papers, some of which was paperwork to be filled out, a travel packet of information, and then what I really cared about... information about Emma. Now this information about Emma was all in Chinese. However, I had already made arrangements to meet with a Chinese lady at 11:00 to go over this information. Man, was it hard to wait. So in the pouring down rain, I drove over to the designated location and met with this precious lady. We set down together and I was hanging on every word she told me. I tried my best to write down every single tidbit of information about our baby girl. This was a true treasure. Priceless!
I spent most of yesterday processing this information, which is why I didn't post yesterday. My brain was on overload and I've had very little sleep since we've received our referral on Friday morning. I'm riding on cloud nine but yet my body is physically exhausted.
Anyway, as I've been able to absorb all this precious information about Emma, Matt and I have come to realize just how sacred this information is. Therefore, we will not be sharing the specifics that has been entrusted to us. We have always known that we wouldn't share certain information when this time came but I don't think we realized just how sacred this information is and so we will guard it dearly. This is Emma's life story and this may be the only information she may ever have about her first year of life and we want her to have the power to choose who she wants to share this information with. Who are we to expose this for her.
I will let you know the type of information that we were able to find out. We have medical information, a growth chart, motor development, social development, and personality traits. We know her routine schedule for her day, such as eating and sleeping schedules. The only thing is this information was dated just before she turned 8 months old. Much will change before we see her but we should be receiving updated measurements closer to the time of travel. She is small, especially compared to my boys, who are off the charts.
I pray time will pass quickly. I just want to hold my baby girl.
We kind of have this tradition with our pregnancies that the day of our baby's ultrasound we go to Build-A-Bear and selected an animal to stuff with love and then we have the birth certificate with the date that the animal was made, which would be a reminder of the ultrasound.
Emma of course is no different. This pregnancy has been not only the longest but the hardest of the three. So, we decided long ago that on the day we received her referral that that would be the day to remember and we'd go to Build-A-Bear.
So, enjoy the pictures of the four of us building and stuffing this lamb full of hearts and love. All four of us picked a heart and kissed it and then stuffed it inside the lamb. This was a family event. Enjoy the pictures.
I just received a call from our social worker and we aren't going to have to wait until Monday to see our precious baby's face. She is emailing me three pictures as we speak. Worst part is that I am going to have to wait until Matt gets back from Sam's to open the email . At the last minute he decided to go with my parent's to Sam's after our celebratory lunch at Red Lobster.
Well, the call that we have been waiting for for nearly 6 years came this morning at 11:37. Our precious Emma will be making her way to her forever family. At this time all we know is her Chinese name, Gao, Jiana. In China the surname is first and is the same for all children in the orphanage and then Jiana is her first name. She was born on 4/27/10, which is almost one month older than Ethan. She is currently at the Gaozhou Social Welfare Institute in the Guangdong Provence.
We will be receiving a UPS package on Monday which will have pictures and more information. We will post more then, so check back and check often to keep up with how our labor progresses.
Blessed be the name of the Lord God Almighty! He is faithful!!!
07/28/2003 Matt listened to Stephen Curtis Chapman on Family Life Today
07/29/2003 Shawna tuned in to day 2 of Family Life Today
10/11/2003 Attended the “If You Were Mine” adoption workshop in Brentwood, TN
10/11/2003 God conceived in our hearts our daughter from China
02/2004 Found out we were pregnant with Eli ~ adoption on but on hold
07/2005 Sent in Pre-Application to Bethany Christian Services ~ was told by Bethany we should wait another year
07/22/2005 Mailed Bethany a letter stating why we believed God had said “Now is the time”, along with our financial statements
08/22/2005 Mailed official Adoption Application, auto-biographies, other Bethany forms, and the first check of many
10/11/2005 Criminal History Report request mailed off to the state of Indiana
11/07/2005 Passports issued
11/14/2005 Submitted our I-600 to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services
12/27/2005 Home study complete
03/15/2006 Fingerprint appointment in Indianapolis
04/03/2006 Dossier completed and submitted to Bethany
05/04/2006 Dossier mailed from Bethany, Grand Rapids, to China
05/11/2006 Dossier received by China ~ LID
07/2007 Second set of fingerprints done in Indianapolis
07/25/2008 Felt the Lord calling us to enter the COP program
07/25/2008 Sent off for Eli’s passport
07/26/2008 Began to doubt God’s calling to adopt ~ sought out council and was encouraged to look back and identify times we were certain we heard God and saw God work and then to cling to those movements
07/28/2008 Third social worker comes to update our home study to reflect our new house
07/30/2008 Third set of fingerprints done in Louisville
11/14/2008 I-600A Refile
02/09/2009 I-600A Refile
08/27/2009 Fourth set of fingerprints done in Louisville
06/14/2010 I-600A Refile
09/10/2010 5th set of fingerprints done in Louisville
11/06/2010 Home Study Update
5/25/2010 Ethan Blaine was born
08/06/2010 Went "on hold" due to the birth of our 2nd child
01/21/2010 Letter to request to be taken off hold was mailed to China