The good, the bad, and the ugly

March 7, and first part of March 8th (prior to bedtime)2013

Our flight home was certainly less eventful than our flight over-and it was four hours shorter, making it 14 for the long stretch, which really makes a difference. We didn’t have to sit on the tarmac for two hours prior to takeoff (in fact, we were running to board our connecting flight at the “last call”, but we made it!) so that helped our attitudes starting out, for sure! What didn’t help mine, though, was again, bad food and the fact that both TV screens on my and Charlotte’s seat backs were broken, and so was the call button for help. I spent a frustrating 14 hours trying to get it fixed and never did. Charlotte slept off and on thanks to the help of Dramamine and I knocked myself out with some Dramamine and sleep aids washed down with some wine- too bad it didn’t seem to help Griffin sleep! I sat alone with Charlotte four rows back from Joey and Gaige with the baby. It was truly terrible, but it could have been worse (like the flight over!).

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First time coloring (on the plane)!

 

I can’t tell you how envious we were of the first and business class passengers as we passed by them to our cramped economy seats for the long flight, but how relieved they were as we hauled our two babies and all their gear to the back of the plane. We were so exhausted when we landed, but the wonderful greeting we had getting off the plane in Nashville made it all worth it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1fOU_q-H84

Despite Charlotte’s intermittent sleep on the plane, she was in a surprisingly good mood- a little overwhelmed, but still some smiles for all her fans who came to meet her.  My best friend even drove over 3 hours one way with four of her seven children to greet us. What a reunion it was!

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This is my competition? Griffin was bad enough!

She didn’t even freak out about the car seat like I thought she would! It was Griffin who screamed for 40 minutes of the hour-long drive home. When we got home, she was so happy to roll the ball and get so much attention playing with her new siblings. As we expected, she is terrified of Flash. That will be a big adjustment, but hopefully soon she will get used to him and not scream in terror when she sees him near her. We also knew the toughest adjustment would be Claire and Charlotte’s relationship, since they are the exact same age- and 2 at that. There have been some crazy moments involving a lot of screaming, a little hitting and some nasty, dirty looks, but we’re getting there. They also had a cute moment on the couch where they each, in turn, shook their snack cups and thought is was hilarious spreading their crumbs all over my couch. I knew I was doomed.

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Best friends, partners in crime, or worst enemies?

Charlotte slept for nearly 14 hours last night in the same room with Claire in the crib, so it couldn’t have gone better in that respect!

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She fits right in!

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Claire hamming it up in her new China gifts.

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The girls had fun dressing up in their China gifts while Charlotte slept for 14 hours…

 

As we were preparing to head home from China, the Lifeline China team arrived to do their annual orphanage partnership visits, including a visit to Suixi. We just received an update and were excited to hear about the changes that are beginning to take place at her orphanage:  http://blog.lifelinechild.org/adoption/china-team-update-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=china-team-update-2  It’s exciting to see the Lord at work!

If there’s anything I’ve learned on this adoption journey the Lord called us to, it’s that this is a walk of faith like no other. I had so little starting out this process. Oh (me) of little faith!! But God is so faithful even when we doubt and falter. I was so scared to say yes to this call- I already have a lot of kids, my husband is never home, I’m tired, I don’t think I can handle a special needs child…and the list goes on of my reasons and excuses. But, oh what I would have missed out on- what blessings there have been despite the hardships! I was so nervous to get on that plane and leave my babies behind- I literally lost sleep over that thought for months before we actually had to travel. But what a waste of energy- the Lord had this in His hands from day 1- all I had to do was trust and obey. Through each agency payment, through each of the hundreds of papers we had to sign, He led the way. We are so thankful for our amazing friends and family who have supported us financially and through your prayers. It’s in part, because of you, that we are all home together today, and we can’t thank you all enough!

I can’t believe we’re home- I made it back and lived to tell about it. The journey to Charlotte Mae is over, but the adventure of life with her is just beginning! And what an adventure it will be! She has already added a new dimension of joy to our family and grown our family in ways that go well beyond the obvious additional member. We are all changed because of this one little girl. The Lord has used her to turn our hearts closer to Him and to each other. If there is any thought in your mind that maybe the Lord is calling you to adopt a precious orphan, I can tell you from firsthand experience, it will bless you in ways you can’t even imagine. Just take that first step of faith and trust Him to work out all the details. He never fails!

March 9th & 10th

There are no more pictures for the two days this portion covers, since we don’t take pictures of screaming and crying fits, or us in our pajamas looking like death warmed over. The first 24 hours of life at home with Charlotte were seen through rose-colored glasses. The reality of the past 48 hours has been nothing short of exhausting, frustrating, draining and crazy. I’m sure I could think of many more adjectives to describe it, but I am just too tired. The Lord certainly doesn’t call us to do things that are easy, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. This feels like quite a letdown after how well Charlotte was doing in China- it feels like we’re starting all over. Her fear of the dog is not much better, she’s crying when I leave the room, hold the baby or anyone else, put her down, turn out the light (she knows bedtime is coming) and she’s not eating anything except a few noodles and her bottle, despite our efforts. She’s spent the past two nights up screaming and crying most of the night and when she settles down, Griffin starts. We are like walking zombies, barely functioning. The jet lag has hit really hard, and being home has felt a bit, well, disappointing, to be honest. We knew adopting would be difficult, as well as rewarding, and yes, it’s proven to be one of the most difficult things the Lord has asked of us. It takes all of your resources: financial, emotional and physical and leaves you bone dry- your only hope and reliance on the One who called you to it and will give daily what you need to get through. Today I had the thought that if adopting would have been just an “idea” we made up our minds to do, I would have firmly believed it was a very bad one, but I know we wouldn’t come up with such a crazy idea as this all on our own. This is the Lord’s “idea”- His calling- His heart for the orphan- and He loves this little girl even more than we do. He is giving us the patience and compassion to remember where she came from and what she went through in her little life before she came to us. Yesterday I took Charlotte outside in our backyard for the first time and watched her discover seeing a flock of birds in the sky for the first time. It nearly brought me to tears seeing her fascination with something we barely give a second glance. Seeing life through her eyes is seeing everything so fresh and new and exciting…and scary, too. Her fear as she trembled at my mom mixing cake batter with the electric mixer showed me just how vulnerable she is to a sound we barely notice as background noise. Her life is precious and so important to the Lord that He chose us to be a family for her. That is a privelege and an honor, despite the temporal trials it brings!