"Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." Proverbs 24:12

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.”- William Butler Yeats

Thursday, January 17, 2008

We have to believe there is hope for the ones left behind!

If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know my love for China and especially for it's children. Tonight, I was quite shaken. My feelings range from relief that my precious babies are home, yet sick to my stomach to think that there are still millions of babies and children who live the horrors of what some orphanages offer.

A friend sent me the link to a documentary that for years I have been hearing about but had never seen, The Dying Rooms. I must warn you, it is extremely graphic. But, the reality of what life is like for millions of orphans in that land that I love, the motherland of two of my beautiful children, cannot be denied. Brutal neglect was captured by a British investigative team of journalists who set out to find the truth. The evidence could not be ignored. One particular scene made me cringe as they saw a child with layers of clothing wrapped around her, held by cords so tight that it they couldn't be moved. It flooded my mind with memories of the day we received Kai. When we first undressed him, he had a similar rope that was around his hips holding up his diaper. It was so tight that I, too, could not remove it. We ended up cutting it. To this day, my sweet angel bears the scars of that rope as a memory of his past.

I wept through much of the movie as I sat in disbelief that these attrocities could and do occur. Now, more than ever, I am even more grateful (if that is possible) that the Lord has blessed us with two beautiful Chinese children who at this moment lay safely tucked into their beds and are loved unconditionally in our home, having escaped any tragedy such as what this film entailed.

This film was created in 1995 and much has changed in China since that time. But, the fact remains that the one-child policy that was put into effect in 1979 to curb population growth, is still very much alive, especially in rural areas where male offsprings are highly desired to help work the fields, to provide protection in old age and to assure continuity in lineage.

On a more positive note, in April 2000, The New York Times reported that "many 'illegal' children are born in secret, their births never officially registered." And "as more women move around the country to work, it is increasingly hard to monitor pregnancies . Unannnounced spot checks by the State Statistics Bureau have discovered undercounts of up to 40 percent in some villages, Chinese demographers say." (See Elisabeth Rosenthal, "China's Widely Flouted One-Child Policy Undercuts Its Census", The New York Times, April 14, 2000.)

According to a February 2005 report in the Weekend Standard, a Chinese business newspaper, demographers in China found a ratio of 117 boys per 100 girls under the age of 5 in the 2000 census. Thanks to China's one-child policy and a strong cultural preference for male children, this gender gap could result in as many as 60 million "missing" girls from the population by the end of the decade. With less than 5% of Chinese orphanages available for international adoption, those "missing girls" will literally never be accounted for. They are non-existent.

The traditional thinking is best described in the ancient "Book of Songs" (1000-700 B.C.):

"When a son is born, Let him sleep on the bed,
Clothe him with fine clothes,
And give him jade to play...
When a daughter is born,
Let her sleep on the ground,
Wrap her in common wrappings,
And give broken tiles to play.

In a 2002 survey conducted in a central China village, more than 300 of the 820 women had abortions and more than a third of them admitted they were trying to select their baby's sex. The abortion of female fetuses and infanticide was aided by the spread of cheap and portable ultra-sound scanners in the 1980's. Illegal mobile scanning and backstreet hospitals can provide a sex scan for as little as $50, according to one report.

The International Planned Parenthood Federation stated in 1999 that there are about 7 million abortions in China per year, 70 percent of which are estimated to be of females. SEVEN MILLION! Those numbers are astounding and yet, the Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) is making it more and more difficult for orphans to find families outside of China's limited domestic adoptions. I just can't seem to understand it when there are an estimated 13 million children in Chinese orphanages.

It is through media coverage and documentaries such as these that awareness is raised across the world in order to bring changes with lasting efffects to particular issues, and the plight of children being neglected and/or abused should probably rank up there as number one, since they are the most vulnerable and innocent of the human race and of God's creations.

I know that there is not much more I can do except advocate for these children, pray and help wherever I can. I can't emphasize enough to anyone who is considering adoption to please take that leap. It has been, three times over, the best decisions in our lives. The blessings received from these children are endless.

In closing, I'd like to ask you to take 40 minutes out of your day to watch this film, if you haven't already*, and when it's over, ask your heart "is there something I can do to help"?

*Be aware that it contains scenes that you may find upsetting.


Anna Grace in her New Year's Eve party dress.

Yesterday's conversations with Anna Grace:

AG: Mama, Anna culla bu?

Me: Huh?

AG: (a bit more insistent this time) Anna culla bu?

Me: Sorry sweetie, Mama doesn't understand what you're saying. Say it slower, please.

AG: (much louder this time; showing frustration at my lack of knowledge of AG language) ANNA CULLA BU!!!!

Me: Ok, Anna Grace. I'm sorry, but I have no clue what you're trying to say.

She storms off in a huff. About 2 minutes later, she comes running up to me and gives me a look as if I'm a total idiot. She then tosses me her coloring book and yells, "MAMA! ANNA, CULLA (coloring) BU (book)!" UGH!!! She couldn't understand why I was laughing so hard. Heh!

I also wanted to share another cute moment that happened today with the princess. I have been trying to teach them "knock-knock" jokes at which they laugh hysterically at, obviously to humor me because today it was Anna's turn to tell Mama a "knock-knock" joke.

AG: Knock-knock

Me: Who's there?

AG: Knock-knock

Me: Who's there?

AG: Knock-knock

Me: Who's there? (this time I'm the one sounding a bit frustrated)

AG: "Knock-knock" and then she falls to the floor in a fit of laughter, leaving me totally confused.

Guess I didn't get the joke, or she really hasn't gotten the gist that the joke has to say more than "knock-knock", but I figured I'd humor her and cracked up laughing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I am humbled....

and honored.

Yesterday, I received a comment from Barbie at Moments Memories Milestones. The comment stated that I had received an award for Blogging with a Purpose and to check out her website. I do this quite often anyways, because she has the cutest littles ones from China, including Ryan who is one of the most adorable cleft babies I've ever seen. Ahhh....to be able to bring home just one more! ::Ohilda slaps herself back into reality::

Sorry, I digress. Anyways, I went to her blog and her sweet words made me cry. Thanks, Barbie for the tears!! Barbie is truly a faith-filled woman who allows the Lord to lead her life. On her blog in nomating me, she wrote:

"You are such a breath of fresh air. Your honesty brings me back to your blog again and again. You love your family with such a passion and yet you have been able to hand them all over to the One who created them. You are a true prayer warrior. I can't even imagine how many families you have helped by blogging about the reality in your home."

Wow! I am humbled, indeed. Thank you. I want to say that when I looked at the name of the award, Blogging with a Purpose, I smiled to myself because I have really one purpose for blogging, and that is to give our Lord all the glory and honor for everything in my life. The good is a gimmie, because we all know that all good things come from above. But, to be thankful for the bad things in our life is a challenge. Yet, I try hard to see the good behind whatever evils come our way. God's plan is always perfect and if you could turn around Satan's evil doings for God's glory, you are accomplishing what we are called to do; to give glory and honor to the King of Kings, period. I am hoping and encouraged by this that my blog will continue to do just that. Again, Barbie, thank you.

Now, I need to nominate 5 bloggers. This is tough because I read quite a few blogs and so many inspire me. that it's hard to choose. There are a few who I read consistently but have never posted and well, I guess this is as good a time as any to delurk.

Julie from A Joyful Life - This woman has no idea who I am, but I came across her blog months ago. She is another faith-filled Christian with inspiring values and true love for her family and the Lord. I have never commented on her site, but check in almost daily. Her messages are inspiring and have many times given me much food for thought when my life has been in turmoil.

Amy from Catching Butterflies 2 - Amy lives in Germany with her beautiful family and is a huge advocate for waiting children. Amy adopted Sarah from China last year while we were waiting to bring home Anna Grace. I remember reading her struggles with Sarah's attachment and thinking to myself, how blatantly honest she was about her feelings. I didn't expect those struggles with Anna Grace, yet I couldn't stop reading. God was preparing me. It was one of the very few blogs that I have read that truly mentioned all sides of adoption, including the not-so-sugary side of it. Thank you, Amy!

Worth the Wait is my next nomation. Rhonda is the mom to 2 cuties from Russia. Again, another blog I have been reading almost daily for over a year, yet have never come out of the closet and commented. This Mom writes in a manner that I feel like I am a part of whatever she is writing. She is honest in her writings and can easily make me burst out in a fit of laughter as much as she can bring me to tears. Not to mention that her children's antics remind me so much of my own little ones.

Emily at And Then There Were Seven - This blog is amazing! It's written by a 14 year old sister of a beautiful China doll named Anna Claire. Her family is now waiting to bring home yet another little one from China. Our Lord uses children in so many ways, and Emily is no exception. She is a shining example of a big sister, but what most moves me most is her true and genuine love for Jesus. She is open about her faith and her love for beautiful family, something that we do not often see from teenagers in our society now a days. Thank you, Emily!

And last, but certainly not least, is my dear friend, Tonya, from The Bramblett Bunch - As you all know the past week I have been asking for prayers for little Ayla. Her Mama, Tonya, is an amazing woman who shines Christ's love like few people I have ever met. She is genuinely a loving, caring and nurturing person who I have never heard an unkind comment from. Her strength and courage are inspiring and many times she has lifted me up with her writings by sharing her own struggles with such eye opening honesty.

Award Rules:

1. Awarded parties must nominate five people who have not received the award.

2. The blogs that receive the award must serve some purpose.

3. In their post about the award they need to link back to this original post.

4. Awarded parties must post the award banner on their site. The banner must remain linked to this site, Eric.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Still trying.....

I can't seem to find a break so that I could fully catch up on the blog. The kids were all on the mend after we started the antibiotics. No fevers, no coughs, no runny noses. We were almost at the finish line, then Anna Grace awoke from her nap on Sunday with 104. Nothing else but that miserable fever.

Yesterday morning I had to go take Kai to his cleft appointment, where I was hoping would be the final one for at last 6 months, but his doctor couldn't make it and he was seen by someone else. So, we'll be back in 3 weeks. The doctor that did see him said that he is doing remarkably well! Praise God! His palate is 100% intact, and his "flap" (which was added to close the gap between the soft palate and the nasal cavity) seems to be doing well. It's all up to the speech therapist now to get him going.

Since his surgery, he has definitely improved in his speech and although not 100% there, he is making some "p", "b" and "s" sounds!! I am a bit disappointed in the fact that he still does have a small amount of nasal leakage, which I thought would be corrected with the surgery. After speaking to his doctor, we were told that it was corrected by the surgery and it will go away. He explained that Kai's anatomy has been reconstructed and he really doesn't know how to use it yet. That's where the speech therapy comes in. He also said that the scar tissue is at it's tightest the first 6 weeks to 6 months after surgery. That in 6 months to a year, I will be looking back at this stage and realizing how far he has come. I already realize that now. He was literally only making sounds when we brought him home and now he can truly communicate. His motivation and desire to speak clearly is huge, so there is no doubt that it will happen!

After leaving Kai's doctor visit, we headed to our pediatrician's office to take Anna Grace back in. Turns out she now has strep throat. UGH! So, we changed her antibiotics and hopefully will start seeing improvements soon.

AJ last night was feeling warm to me. I was dreading taking his temperature. Sure enough....101. This morning he awoke a bit better, but if his temp rises again, we'll have to make another trip to the peds office again. I think I'm gonna request my own personal parking space there!

I know that all I seem to write about is sick kids and you all have been requesting pictures, and I promise they will soon come. I do want to answer a couple of questions I was emailed about.

First, some of you have asked about what type of "leash" I use for the kids. Actually, it's not a leash. It's a child safety harness and I can't praise it enough. AJ is still a bit young for it, but Kai and Anna Grace love it! It gives them the freedom to roam freely without really leaving your side. They quickly learn how far they can travel in their own space. It also is a cute backpack that comes in different animal styles. We have 3 of them. One is a doggie, the other a monkey and Anna Grace's is the teddy bear. Before we leave the house they stuff it with goodies and since we have a double stroller, I only let one walk at a time on the leash. Both of the bigger kiddos are quick to volunteer to be the one to walk and we change places usually halfway through our walks. For more info on the safety harness, click HERE.

Another email I received wanted to know how Anna Grace is doing with her attachment. I know it's been a while I've written about this.

Friday will be 7 months she's been ours! She is doing great! We still have some days that are rough, but for the most part, she fits in to our family perfectly and it's like she's always been with us. The holidays with all of it's hustle and bustle and the trip to Epcot for New Years made it a bit hard. When we came back home, she was pulling away from me when I wanted her to snuggle and the eye contact wasn't always there. But, as with all children, consistency is the key. We went back to doing some holding time, reminding her to "look at Mama", some "time-ins" when she is defiant along with lots of good 'ol lovin'. She truly is a sweetheart.

There have been a few occasions when I have been alone with her that she has literally brought me to tears, these times in a good way...heh! I sometimes have to catch my breath and stop and thank Jesus for the gift of this angel that He has entrusted us with. I pray daily for patience, wisdom and guidance and ask our Blessed mother to continue to be a reminder to me of how a mother should be.

My 3 little ones and my teenager really keep me hopping, but I wouldn't change a thing. I know in a few years my sweet, innocent, little Amanda will be back and the raging hormonal creature that sometimes takes her place will be gone. Hope springs eternal. :)

As for the little ones, the toy messes, giggles with food in their mouth, splashing water all over the bathroom floor and running in circles like mad people while yelling E-I-E-I-O at the top of their lungs, will also be gone in a few years and I will be so missing those babies. They grow so fast.

For now, I just continue to enjoy every second that the Lord gives me with each of them and I continue to thank Him for blessing me beyond measure.

PS. Please continue praying for Ayla and her family. The chemo treatments have all ready begun and as I am sure we all could imagine, it has to be one of the roughest times in their lives.

Also, I'd like to send a big congratulatory hug filled with love to my friend Dianne and her husband, Joe. After a looooooong 2 year wait, they have finally seen the face of their beautiful new daughter, Meaghan Jiang. Trust me, when I say beautiful!

They leave for Beijing on March 7! I can't wait. To follow their journey, click HERE!

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