I made a 5 page typed list of things to do long ago. I borrowed from other peoples lists, including my friend Jennifer, to help me think through everything that needed to be done. While we have adopted internationally before, we have never done it when other children were being left at home. I've been working hard on projects around the house, shopping for things we need for travel, packing Hannah's clothes, medicine, shoes, toys, books, etc and also preparing instructions and information for our parents while they graciously keep the boys.
Hannah's room is ready (I'll share pics in another post soon!) and we have set up Joshua's old crib in our room. Hannah will likely sleep in our room for awhile when she comes home so that we can respond to her cries immediately. Much of how we will parent her may not make sense to those of you who have had your babies with you from the moment of conception. We will be working hard in China, and for months to come at home, on teaching Hannah that we are her sole caregivers who can be trusted and relied upon.
I have worked hard on several things to help the boys while we are gone. Caleb thrives on a schedule and predictability so I am trying to help them know what will happen each day we are gone by making little picture schedule books. I also created personalized storybooks for them on Shutterfly that tells the story of our family. It is our hope that all of our children will see the common ground in each of their stories, and that God was the author of it all. I am also hoping that in reading about Hannah's story it will build empathy and love in them for their little sister. I want them to understand as much as possible the circumstances she is coming from.
In the midst of all this preparation, we are still the parents of two silly, fun and happy little boys!! After dinner we heard giggling coming from our room and walked in to see this:
They have been happy to 'play baby' and get extra love and attention from us:
Trying out the Ergo
Shhh, the baby is sleeping!
Most importantly, I have loved looking back on the past year and seeing how God has prepared my heart for my daughter. A year ago we had just turned in our medical conditions checklist with our agency and began our paperwork. Now, a year later, we are in the final stages of preparation to become the parents of our third child.
I can tell you I have felt like the parent of a third child for many, many months now- even before Bryan's heart was ready to start the adoption process again. I knew in December 2012 that our daughter was out there and felt God's nudging to seek her out. Throughout our 'paperchase' and time of waiting, God gave my heart a burden for her that is hard to explain. I loved her and worried for her and longed for her without knowing her. I don't expect many people to understand that feeling, other than my fellow adoptive parents who have been through similar journeys.
During our wait I kept a calendar and would write down different moments in our time of waiting. Specifically, days when my heart hurt for our unknown child. I look back on those notes and see tangible proof of God's work. He was equipping my heart for a time such as this-- for the very moment in the Civil Affairs office in Zhengzhou where we will receive our Hannah into our arms. For the moments in the hotel room when she is crying and the only people to comfort her are strangers speaking a different language who look and smell different. For the possible hard days that lie ahead as we seek out the best medical care for her. God used those heavy feelings to build compassion in me for my new daughter.
I'm overwhelmed by what God has done and how He uses each of our kid's stories to bring glory to Himself. We are honored to be a part of Hannah's story, and it is my hope that in following us on this journey to China you will catch a glimpse of the joy our Father has when He adopts us into His family.