Saturday, December 24, 2011

AMAZING Stocking Stuffers!

I have recently been introduced to the most wonderful stocking stuffer ever! I LOVE this idea and am going to ask Santa Claus to make this a yearly tradition for our family. Reece’s Rainbow is a non-profit ministry that advocates for children in orphanages with Down Syndrome, HIV/AIDS and other serious medical conditions. Their goal is to find forever families for each child. One way that they do this is to collect tax-deductable donations for individual children to make their adoption more affordable. Both Jacob and now Michael have been advocated for on Reece’s Rainbow.

New to Reece’s Rainbow’s annual Angel Tree Fund Raiser this Christmas is “Angel Tree Dollars.” Once donations are made to Reece’s Rainbow, “Angel Tree Dollars” are then printed and given to the recipient who can then go to the Reece’s Rainbow site and decide to which child they would like the funds to be applied.

This Angel Tree program is so helpful in teaching our children how much they truly have and how important it is to help others. It is very humbling to read the profiles of the precious children on Reece’s Rainbow and have the opportunity to bless their lives.

Here is how they work:
1. You purchase your Angel Tree dollars.
2. Your Angel Tree Dollars will be immediately emailed to you and you print them out.
3. The recipient will then select the child on the Reece’s Rainbow site that they wish the Angel Tree Dollar to go to. 

To purchase Angel Tree Dollars go to :

To read a WONDERFUL story about a family who did this last year go to:

Thank you for being the wonderful friends that you are to us and supporting us this past year. You are among our greatest blessings. We wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Not the news that we were expecting

If timelines were to be the same as they were with Jacob’s adoption, we were expecting our Letter of Acceptance this week. I had big plans of putting it on the Christmas tree to surprise the kids. So when I received an email from our agency with an attachment, I got SO excited! However, upon opening the email I discovered that the attachments were not the Letter of Acceptance but instead a photo of Michael’s foot and Chinese and English translations of his medical records. Michael has formed some severe granulation that is requiring surgery. From the photo, it looks very painful. We are just so sad that we can’t be with him during the time of his surgery and recovery.

In addition to this upsetting news, we were told that our documents are still in translation and that we can anticipate travel in three months. Once again, we had been making plans according to Jacob’s adoption timeline and had planned for travel at the end of January or beginning of February, so the idea of waiting clear until March has floored us.

This is the part that is so difficult…the waiting. It will be hard to fully enjoy the holidays knowing that our little boy is in an orphanage and having surgery. We continue to be so grateful for all of the prayers and support of our friends and family. We are amazed at your goodness and are so thankful that you are willing to take this journey with us.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Heart "Grew Three Sizes That Day"

I was feeling very sad yesterday morning as I worked to put up the last of our Christmas decorations. Despite our best efforts, Michael will not be home for Christmas. I was heartbroken, bitter and depressed. Our son has already missed six Christmas’ with us. Do we really have to spend a seventh Christmas apart from each other? I wanted him to see the decorations and Christmas tree lights (which Jacob continually tries to blow out like birthday candles), taste homemade fudge, read Christmas picture books, and feel the excitement of Christmas morning when the children race down the stairs to see the magic that Santa Claus has carefully placed under the tree and in the stockings.

As reality completely sunk in that he would still be in the orphanage come December 25th, I could no longer see my decorations through my tears. I no longer felt like decorating. I decided that Christmas was a difficult time to be trying to adopt a child and it would be challenging to celebrate the season. I began to feel somewhat like the Grinch. It was at that time that the chorus of Handel’s Messiah began to play through my ipod speaker. “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.” Those lyrics hit me and they hit hard.

Christ and His infinite atonement was the greatest gift ever given. The Christmas season is the celebration of that gift…the gift of a child…a Son being “given.” As those lyrics from Handel pierced my soul I realized that Christmas is the PERFECT time to be anxiously awaiting the arrival of our son. And although he will not be here for Christmas Day, I know that we will have the rest of eternity with our son because Christ was born and given to all mankind. What better time to work towards bringing our son to our home than the time that we celebrate the birth of God’s perfect Son? So, like it is described in the Grinch who Stole Christmas when he heard “every Who down in Who-ville” singing…when I heard Handel’s Messiah, I had a complete change of heart and, in fact, “my heart grew three sizes that day.”

Merry Christmas, our sweet Michael. This is the last Christmas that you will spend away from us. We love you and are anxiously waiting for the day when you will be “given” to us.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dossier Log-in Date Received!

We received an email from our adoption agency letting us know that we have an official "log-in date (LID)" with CCCWA (11/18/2011). We were able to use much of our previous dossier from Jacob's adoption, but we needed to send in several updated documents including a new home study. With Jacob's adoption we received our "Letter of Acceptance" within a month of our LID, so we are extremely hopeful that we will have a LOA in the next couple of weeks. That would be an amazing Christmas present!

To help our family and friends better understand the milestones in the process of a Chinese adoption, we have created a new page on our blog that lists the most major milestones. The page name is "The Process". We have now completed milestone #12.

We are so grateful for your continued prayers and support. We are blessed to have you join us in our  journey to bring Michael home.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Milestone Day

Wow!  What an exciting day!  We hit two huge milestones in our adoption process!  The first is that all of our final dossier paperwork was sent to the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoptions (CCCWA) in Beijing!  This is called “Dossier to Country” (DTC).  Now CCCWA has everything that they need to issue us our “Letter of Acceptance” (LOA)!  Since we are the first family in our agency to return for a second WIC adoption within a year’s time, we are not sure how long it will take to receive the LOA, but the orphanage has requested that our case be expedited.  We are getting close! 

The second huge milestone hit today was in our fundraising efforts!  We received several hundred dollars in donations today…enough to reach our matching grant amount!!  We needed to raise $2,500 in order to receive that same amount for a matching grant and YOU DID IT!!!!!  Thank you!!!!! We are still in need of more funding, but it is such a relief to have the amount needed for the grant!  Thank you for your generous hearts and your willingness to help bring Michael out of an orphanage and into his forever family!   You have made an eternal impact today on our family and we are eternally grateful! 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Winner will be drawn when...

Heather has extended the deadline for her "Grover Give-Away!"  When we reach our matching grant amount of $2,500, Heather will draw the winner.   We only need $295 more to reach that goal!  You can read her blog and let her know of your donation at  We are so grateful to those who have donated!  Thank you Tina J., Denise C., Christine A., and Janet T.! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Angels Among Us

Do you remember the Alabama song, “Angel’s Among Us?”  It was one of my favorite songs and it has been playing in my head the past couple of days.
“Oh I believe there are angels among us
Sent down to us from somewhere up above
They come to you and me in our darkest hours
To show us how to live
To teach us how to give
To guide us with a light of love”
The other night a sweet lady came to our door with a delivery.  She had been to visit her grandchildren in another state and while she was there she told them of our family.  She told them the story of Jacob joining our family and she told them of Michael and how we are working to bring him home.  Several days later this sweet grandmother was packing to come home when her granddaughters came into the room and handed her a Ziploc bag with money in it.   These young girls had worked very hard all summer to grow strawberries and sell them.  They had saved a large amount of money and when they heard Michael’s story, they discussed it with their parents and decided that they wanted to give their hard earned money to help bring him to his forever family. 
I can’t express how humbling it is to accept help from these angel children.  This gift represented an entire summer of hard work for these young girls. Their sacrifice and gift is absolutely sacred to us.  These young girls are “angels among us.”
I received an updated donor list today from Reece’s Rainbow.  We have received these lists in past weeks and have been so grateful for the friends and family that were represented on the list.  This week was different, however.  On today’s list, were several names that we do not know personally.  These angels read of Michael’s story and decided to help bring him home to his forever family.  Because I do not know how to send my gratitude to these angels that have helped us, I will thank them here and hope that they will see and know of our deep gratitude.  Thank you SunDee L., Stacey S., Rebecca B., Cynthia W., and Taryn S..  Your gift means so much to our family. 
So, as my mind replays, “Angels Among Us” over and over in my mind today, I will have specific angels in my thoughts and I will be forever grateful that they have come to me and my family.    

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Mary Kay Give-Away!!

Have you ever met a person that you instantly knew was extraordinary and that you would be blessed just for knowing them?  I met a person just like this last month at the Buddy Walk.  While walking through the booths we discovered the Reece’s Rainbow booth (a ministry that advocates for the adoption of children with Down Syndrome).  Both of our sons, Jacob and now Michael, have been listed on the Reece’s Rainbow site.  While at the booth we met a family who had adopted their little girl, Anya, from Eastern Europe.   We told Heather, Anya’s mother, that we had been awarded a matching grant for Michael’s adoption but were intimidated by the necessary fundraising.  Heather is very knowledgeable in this area and told us that she would help us.  She has been more than true to her word.  Recently, she decided on her own to hold a give-away in our behalf to help with our fundraising efforts.  Entries for her give-away can be earned by sharing a link to our blog on FaceBook, sharing a link to our blog on your blog, and/or donating any amount to our adoption fund.  Please visit her blog at and help Heather help us!  Thank you Heather for being such an extraordinary woman!

Friday, October 28, 2011

I-800a Received!

After a three week delay, we received our I-800a!  Although things are not moving as fast as we would like them to, things ARE moving!! Yeah! Thank you for all of your prayers in behalf of our Michael.  We are grateful for the emotional support that we have received from friends and family as well as the financial support that we have also received.  Thank you! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Meeting Our Son

Michael on PlaygroundAdoption is not new to our family. Two beautiful children have come to our family through the special gift of adoption. With both of our previous adoptions we have worked and waited for over a year each time to finally be able to travel and meet our children for the first time. Michael’s adoption is different however. We have already met him. I have already looked deep into his eyes and I have touched my sweet son’s hand. The interesting thing is that at that time I did not know that it was the beginning of our eternity together.

When we traveled to China, in February of this year, to bring our Jacob home we were given the very rare and wonderful opportunity to visit his orphanage. While there, we asked if we could meet a precious little boy that we were made aware of during Jacob’s adoption. Michael and MomDue to the communication barrier and a series of unusual events, a different little boy was brought to meet us. We were told that this little boy had “taken care of Jacob” while they were in the orphanage together and the orphanage staff described him, “like Jacob’s big brother.” We had immense gratitude for this loving little boy. I got down on my knees to talk to him and for a long while we stared straight into each other’s eyes. As he stared deep into my eyes it seemed like he was trying to communicate something to me. I wasn’t sure what it was, but if I had to describe it, it was “confusion.” I know that is the emotion that I felt as I looked deep into his brown eyes. Michael and Mom (Michael leaving)I have met many children in different orphanages and loved them all. However, something was very different with this little boy and I was “confused.” Our unspoken communication was interrupted by Jacob who came and grabbed his “big brother’s” hand and pulled him to the playground slide. After a few minutes of the boys playing together it was time for us to go our separate ways. As this beautiful boy walked away, he turned to wave us goodbye. My eyes filled with tears and I couldn’t speak. I wanted to tell him something, but I didn’t know what to say. I just knew that I would never forget how he looked as he waved us goodbye and walked away.

Michael LeavingOur processing time in China continued and three weeks later we returned home with Jacob. Life was busy with the addition of Jacob but I found myself thinking of the sweet little boy that had cared for our son often. One of the things that bothered me the most was that I was still unsure of this little boy’s name. A month later, we were showing our children the videos that we took while we were in China. When the video of Jacob’s “big brother” was viewed, I said to my husband, “I think about him constantly” to which my husband began asking questions like, “how often?” and “what do you think when you think about him?” Our ensuing conversation quickly revealed that I was not the only one who thought often of this special boy.

We decided to send photos to the orphanage and to our adoption agency and see if we could find out exactly who this little boy was. We were quickly sent his information and file and were so relieved to finally know who Jacob’s “big brother” was. During this time we had talked with several parents of adult children with Down Syndrome and found a common thought. Our other children will all grow up and leave our home to start their own lives and families. Jacob, however, will always live with James and me. He will most likely not progress past the mental age of eight years old. He will want to play with his toy trains into his old age…and he will need a brother to do so with.

As with all life impacting decisions, James and I went to the Lord to ask what His will was for us. Our answer came and the adoption process to bring Michael home began. We are trying to be patient as we wait for all of the necessary paperwork to process but I constantly think of the day when I will be able to once again touch my sweet son’s hand and look into his beautiful brown eyes. This time I will understand my thoughts and feelings. As it will take a while for the two of us to communicate verbally, I hope that my eyes will convey my thoughts and feelings, “You are home my sweet son. You selflessly cared for your little brother and now it is your turn to be loved and cared for by your family. We have waited so long to be with you again. This time you will not be left. You are with your forever family and we love you with all our hearts.”

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Lesson on Sacrifice

Donation from childrenThe other night our door bell rang and there stood a beautiful couple from our church and their two adorable children. The sweet couple told me about a Family Home Evening lesson that their family had just had where they read our blog to their children and discussed sacrifice. Each of these two precious children then proceeded to hand me a Ziploc bag with all of their savings money in it. The bag from the little boy also contained strawberry fruit leather. Apparently, as he was loading his financial gift into the bag he commented that I also needed fruit leather…and he was absolutely correct. I tried very hard to control my emotions but I was completely overcome with their enormous sacrifice and service. I am quite certain that they had been saving their money for a very long time and have probably worked hard to earn much of it.

Words were inadequate at the time and they still are, in attempting to express my enormous gratitude to these beautiful children and their parents. How completely selfless of these children to sacrifice their hard earned money to help bring another little child home to his forever family. I am so grateful for these amazing parents who not only serve and sacrifice themselves, but have taught their children to do the same.

I am grateful that the young boy thought to not only provide for our needs but also our wants. I love those fruit leathers from Costco. As I sit here enjoying it, it represents all of the “extras” that we have had to take out of our budget in order to try and bring Michael home. Not only did this sweet young boy sacrifice to meet our needs, but also thought to care for our wants.

My own children have sacrificed much to bring their siblings to our family. They have had to endure the emotional stress of adoption. Much of my time, and that of my husband, goes to filling out paperwork and meeting all of the adoption requirements. During these times they give up “family time” and attention from their parents. Donation from Grover childStill, although they have sacrificed very much (including the tightening of the family budget) they have never themselves given financially to the adoption process. However, our children watched carefully as the little children from our church handed me their savings and an interesting thing happened later that night. As I went to bed, I found a little plastic bag of money with a note that said, “for milkl din” (translation: “for Michael Ding”) waiting for me on my pillow. I was again overcome with emotion. This time I was so grateful for the example that these little children from church had set for my own children. I didn’t need to sit down with my children and read them scripture or teach a planned lesson on the importance of serving and sacrificing. They learned it from watching these children give selflessly and it was a far more impacting lesson than I could ever teach them.

I want these precious children to know that their sacrifice gave us the finances needed to get our final dossier paperwork authenticated by our Secretary of State and mailed overnight to our agency who will send it to Beijing. They made a huge impact on helping to bring our Michael home and they made a bigger impact on our family and on teaching our children how to serve and sacrifice. Thank you sweet children. You are very loved and appreciated!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Courageous Men

James and I went to see the movie “Courageous” this past weekend. This movie is made by the same people who made “Fireproof” and “Facing the Giants.” “Courageous” is a movie about a group of men who have two things in common…they are policemen and they are fathers. Throughout the movie the men commit to working with the Lord to become better fathers, fathers who are completely devoted to serving their families and their God. In my opinion, this movie was fantastically done and I highly recommend it. What was especially interesting to me was the reaction of the men in the audience. When the movie ended, no one moved. Everyone sat through the credits and even remained for a while after the screen went black. I saw men sit there quietly with tears running down their faces. Many men were leaning forward on their hands just staring at the black screen. Without any words being said, you could see these men reviewing their responsibilities as fathers and evaluating their level of commitment. My husband was no exception to this response.

In our confused world, a “real man” is often described as someone who is hormonally driven and ready to fist fight at any opportune moment. He works out as many hours a day as needed to produce python sized biceps, has an endless supply of money to spend on himself and drives a muscle car.

I completely disagree with this definition of a “real man” and so do the makers of the movie “Courageous.” I believe that a true man is one who puts everyone’s needs, especially those of his family, above his own. A real man will work diligently to earn enough money to provide for the needs of his wife and family. A real man will stay up until midnight talking (listening) to his teenage daughter and then wake up a few hours later to clean up after a sick child. A real man will play trains with his son for hours, clean the kitchen, and allow his daughters to paint his fingernails. A real man loves the Lord above all else.

As I watched “Courageous” I was so grateful for the “real man” who sat beside me holding my hand. My husband is a “real man.” He gives his life, one day at a time, to me and to our children. He works tirelessly to provide for our financial needs and then rushes home to attend football games, orchestra recitals, and school performances. My husband drives an 18 year old car with broken air conditioning in order to avoid unnecessary family debt. He dresses like “Prince Charming” and attends the elementary school Royal Ball with our princess daughters. He has cried each time we miscarried and likewise has cried each time he held our newborns. He has traveled around the world to bring home our adopted children at enormous sacrifices. One of those times included a plane ride across the ocean with our extremely sick daughter who cried the entire time while he tried to clean up her constant “sick mess.”

My husband puts the Lord and his family first in every decision that he makes. I will never be able to adequately express my gratitude and appreciation for the real man that he is.

Likewise, I am grateful for the real man that my own father is. He is an incredibly accomplished man who has every worldly reason to be overly confident and consumed in his own abilities and accomplishments. However, if you ask him, his greatest success in life is his family. Although his career in the military was extremely demanding, he was a constant in his children’s life. He always had time to play with us in the backyard upon returning home and is a champion at making up ridiculously fun children’s activities…just ask his grandkids! His commitment to his family did not end as his children grew up and moved away. One example of this took place several years ago when I contracted a life threatening infection following surgery that put me in the hospital for over a month. At that time we had five children under the age of seven. My busy father left his business to come tend our children while I was in the hospital, allowing my husband to continue working and visiting me at the hospital in the evenings. I know the enormous sacrifice that this was for my dad…but my father is a real man.

I am so grateful for the real men in my life – my husband, my father, my brothers, and brother-in-laws. I am grateful for the real men in my church and community. I smile every time I see a father leave a church service with a crying child, every time I see a father attending parent-teacher conferences at the elementary school, and every time I see a father coach a little league team. I hope that these men know how much their children and their families need them and their commitment to fatherhood. I hope that they know that their efforts make an incalculable difference in helping their children to make wise decisions. I hope that they know that their endless efforts are noticed and appreciated not only by their families and communities but more importantly by their Heavenly Father.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Matching Grant Recieved!!

One of the biggest questions that we have had as we begin our second international adoption in a year’s time is, “how in the world are we going to afford this?” As you know, international adoption is extremely expensive and Jacob’s medical expenses upon arriving home have been very high. We have spent a lot of time researching and applying for adoption grants.

We recently received the wonderful news that we are the recipients of the Brittany’s Hope Seedling Gift Grant! This grant is a matching grant up to $5,000. We need to raise half of the funds ($2,500) in order to receive the full grant of $5,000. We are so grateful to Brittany’s Hope Foundation for this grant! They are a non-profit organization that not only helps adoptive families afford the high costs of bringing their child home, but also provides humanitarian services for orphans around the world.

Here are only some of the projects that Brittany’s Hope Foundation funds:

Brittany’s Cribs- provides cribs, crib mattresses, blankets and “busy boxes” to orphanages in Vietnam, Haiti,China, and Sierra Leone.

Emily Cane Project – provides canes and mobility training to the half-million visually impaired individuals living in Vietnam.

HOPE Project (Helping Orphans by Providing Education) – provides higher education and trade skill training to older orphans.

House of Love in Vietnam – provides vital financial resources to the orphanage that currently houses over 60 orphans.

Orphan Care Village Ethiopia – when complete, this orphanage will have “safe water, fencing, living quarters, sanitary and kitchen facilities, a garden and an area to house livestock.” There will also be classrooms and a vocational training center.

All donations to this foundation are 100% tax deductable and go to fund humanitarian projects as well as grants given to adoptive families.

To make a donation towards our matching grant, visit (,

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pre-Approval Received!

YEAH!!! A huge milestone! We received our “Pre-Approval” from China today! This means that the CCCWA (China Center for Child Welfare and Adoption) has approved our adoption of Michael. Now we work with our US government to get his immigration and citizenship approval all in order. Time to celebrate with the kids at Pizza Pie CafĂ©! Nothing like cookie dough dessert pizza to commemorate such a marvelous event!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Buddy Walk

Buddy TrainToday was such a wonderful day! We got to spend the day at the Utah State-wide Buddy Walk as a family! It was so beautiful to be with so many special people and their families. The event included a performance by Rachel Coleman, the creator of “Signing Times.” Since Jacob is a HUGE “Signing Time” fan, he thought that this was amazing! Hopkins the frog even came! After the “Singing Times” performance we went on a walk with all of the individuals with Trisomy 21 and their families. Poster on Buddy WalkPosted throughout the walk were posters that gave facts about Trisomy 21. A fabulous lunch, provided by Red Robin followed the walk as well as fun activities, booths and even a train for the kids to ride. Jacob had such a good time and we plan on making the Buddy Walk an annual tradition for our family!
Signing Time

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Adoption Vocabulary

I heard a story the other day from a man who was promoting genealogical work. The story referred to a man who was adopted at birth and was now over 70 years old. This man attended a genealogical workshop where he was able to use new FamilySearch programs to locate the information for his birth family. The man telling the story concluded with, “can you imagine how amazing it was for this man to finally find the information for his REAL family?” I was stunned.

I am soon to be the mother of three adopted children. I have never met the birth parents of my children but I think of them often. I hope to one day meet them. I want to thank them for the immeasurable gift that they gave me and our family. They brought our precious children into this world. Our children carry their DNA and therefore have physical characteristics that undoubtedly resemble those of their birth parents. I think that my children are perfectly beautiful and I am grateful for these genetic contributions. In a world where abortion is so prevalent, I am grateful that our children’s birth parents chose to give our children life. I have all the admiration in the world for birth parents. Without them many families would be incomplete. Ours is one of those families.

With all of the appreciation, admiration, and gratitude that I have for birth parents, I cringe when someone refers to birth parents as “real parents.” I agree that these individuals play an irreplaceable role in the lives of adopted children. However, are the parents who sacrifice on a daily basis in the caring and rearing of a child not “REAL” parents? Is the couple who prays and pleads to the Lord for a child and then is willing to subject themselves to the financial and emotional difficulties in adopting a child not considered “real” parents? Is the mother who feeds, cleans, educates, chauffeurs, and plays with a child everyday not a “real” mother? Is the father who works to provide a home, food, medical care, toys, and schooling for a child not a “real” father? Is the couple who raised the man in the story through to adulthood and then continued to love and support for an additional 50 years not his “real” parents? Of course they are.

Adopted children have two sets of parents. They have “birth” parents and they have “adoptive” parents. Many children who are adopted struggle with identity issues especially in their teenage years. Many, although not all, adopted children have questions about their birth parents and their biological ancestors. Adoptive families and adopted children need the support of family, friends, and others in the community during these times of questioning.

One of the easiest ways to offer this support is to use correct vocabulary. When an adopted child hears someone refer to their birth parents as their “real” parents, they are confused and feel like others do not see them as a vital and “real” part of their family. It is my plea, as an adoptive mother, that everyone use a vocabulary that allows adopted children and adoptive families to feel the forever bond that they have. It is truly time, love, sacrifice and commitment that make a “real” family.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Chinese Legend of 100 Children

The Chinese Legend of 100 ChildrenWhile we were in China we found beautiful silk wall hangings that have 99 embroidered children on them. I was taught that these wall hangings depict not only the life of Chinese children but also the Chinese legend of 100 children. In the wall hanging, there are 99 individual children, but together they are “one.” The legend of 100 Children brings good luck as 100 is considered a lucky number and represents bounty and abundance.

I will never be able to have 99 children in my lifetime (although that sounds crazy fun), but I still believe in the Chinese legend. Those who are blessed to have children truly have “good luck.” No matter the number, a home with children has both “bounty and abundance” (and no, I am not talking about laundry.)

I love the idea that a family is made up of individual members but that together they are “one.” I have experienced that over and over in my life in both the family that I grew up in and the family that fills my home now. Even when all of the nine members of our family our in different places or doing different things, we all are “one” in our desire and goal to be an eternal and forever family. I can’t think of anything more “lucky.”