Saturday, August 30, 2008

A visit with our sweet little zophia....

8.30.08-Dan and I visited a couple very good friends of ours this evening. We were able to rent a motorcycle, wanted to take a ride and thought it was a good opportunity to see our friends.  We had a wonderful evening.  I captured this video of zoey can't help but smile "big" and maybe even giggle yourself a little. I love it when kids laught like this...I love it when I can laugh like this.  But especially special because Dan is being how I see him time and time again with all the kids in his life. He has such a wonderful way with them...I can see him doing this very same silly game with our Izabella someday. Can't wait to capture these kinds of moments and share them..of him and Izabella. :) Someday...until then, we are blessed, so blessed to have Zophia in our lives...she's such a sweetie..Enjoy.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Summer 08...and A very special day....

First of all I wanted to say--I'm sorry for not posting for such a very long time. This summer has been so busy. And I am so grateful for that. We traveled to Colorado Springs to my nephews graduation from the Air Force Academy, which quite frankly was one of the proudest moments of my life. I was so touched by the brilliant, kind, respectful young men our nephews (one graduated the other is a sophmore this year) have grown up to be. I was moved by their ability to make an old aunt and uncle feel so loved and appreciated. I was impressed with their respect, their ability to express themselves, their confidence and their compassion. I was equally impressed with their deep, deep love, respect and appreciation for their parents. I was amazed by their parents ability to have raised such amazing young men. And then have the courage to not just let them go into the world--but to let them go off to defend our country in this very perilous time in our countries history. Their entire family--makes me so proud that their ours..and inspires me infinately. This is by far my favorite picture of Jake and his Mom after the parade of cadets--a civil war formation drill--that at the end moves the seniors out of their ranks and onto the rest of their careers. A send off of sorts from their academy commrades and commanders. Very moving. This photo tells it all--you can imagine what she (his mom) is whispering in his ear. Words of pride, of love...something only he and she will ever know--but my camera thankfully captured for us to peek in on something truly special.

We also had another wonderful week with my sister and favorite brother-in-laws annual July 4th visit. When they visit--I realize how much I miss having my sister close. I realize how much they mean to me in a way that's not possible from a distance. They are thinking about moving here from Vermont--so their visit is always filled with looking for real estate and dreaming of the day we will be close again. Oh how Izabella will love her "Aunt Shelly" wouldn't that be a blessing. We'll see. There was an "ut-oh" moment when I backed into her car--in our driveway. But it was as if, God was saying--slow down, relax and stop stressing out. Funny now, not so much then. The picture here is of my them--the day they left--I entitled it "I love you too honey." I love it cause it captures how they adore each other. It's the thing I love most about my brother-in-law. Of course, while looking for real estate for them--Dan and I look too--we've always wanted a ranch--we have a beautiful home--but it's a two-story and a ranch would be better for elderly parents that visit and we'd be more comfortable too. I fell down the stairs this summer with my brand new Mac Laptop...both survived the fall...but gives me added build a ranch. So in addition to everything else--we have been working through the possiblity of building a home--banking paperwork, realtors that don't want to do a thing but get paid big bucks, and a developer that's equally as 'aloof". In the end--we got approved--but decided the difficulty with the developer and the realtors was a sure sign--it was not in our plan. So...we're sitting tight--for now--waiting for what God has planned in this area. Keep our ears to His and our hearts and our eyes on Him for any and all clues.

Then Dan, finally realized a dream, I surprised him with a rental harley davidson bike rental for 1-week to ride to Texas (from Iowa) to spend some time with his nephews on break from the AFA and before Jake deployed to officer training/pilot school. He was so happy--we missed each other--and I wish I could have gone with him--but I was deathly afraid of motorcycles--and my studio was smak dab in the middle of a huge 236 page book going to print. So, he went alone--and had a wonderful time. Then when he returned he took me for a ride--I was panic'd, but, all I can say is, I love being that close to my husband, cuddled up behind him, and when he pulled into the driveway to let me off to follow him to drop off the bike--he said, "ok, get off now." I said, "no". He said,"you have to we have to bring the bike back." I said, "I don't want to." That says it all. So we're now in the process of selling our boat to buy a harley. :) We'll see how that goes.

Then--I went, without Dan, to Patagonia Arizona to my nieces wedding. It's a long story, but they are young--and I don't think they really understood all that was involved in putting a wedding on. When we arrived, my niece immediately said, "ok Aunt Lisa, what are we doing with the reception hall?" don't have that decided yet. Ahhh...ok...let's go see it. It was a very OLD fair grounds hall--very dirty--and definately not very romantic. But between Thursday at 4 pm (our arrival) and Saturday at Noon (wedding at 3pm) we transformed that hall into my "arizona romance themed" room. We were in a small town, just 18 miles north of the border, so decorating materials were minimal to say the least. My arizona romance vision required LOTS of fabric, of which there were no fabric stores, in the U.S. within a hours drive, so, after looking fruitlessly all over that area--I looked at my mom and sister and said, "well ladies, we're going to mexico." We had been told there was a huge fabric store just 500 yards over the border--and living in SD, CA for years--I knew if we could get through customs/immigration--we'd be able to get a heck of a deal on it. We had a rented car without Mexico Insurance--so we had to walk over the border--with my 75 year old mother in tow--who we suggested stay home that day to rest, but she insisted on riding along and didn't want to miss a thing--and after paying a hungry man $3 to help us find the store--and after lots of mexican women and men in the fabric store looking at us over and over again like, "these senrarita's are loco"...when we asked them to give us a price for what was on the "roll"...ok 3 rolls of fabric we wanted. Yup...over 200 yards of material later--and a call to the bank for the latest exchange rate--to figure out what it would cost--we hauled the fabric out of mexico on our backs (my sister and I) like pack mules (my mom carrying the purses), hoping to get back through immigration...we weren't passports, no birth certificates, just our DL's..but, surely they could see by the 200 yards of fabric and my 75 year old mother, we were innocent enough--and let us back into the U.S.--we consulted our family before going over and they cautioned us--we'd have a hard time getting back--but what are a couple loving Aunts trying to make their nieces day special to do...:) Be adventurous right. We made it over without issue--yet again--Angels were watching over us. The wedding--my mother taught me as a young girl--after attending my first wedding--at a cabin in the mountains of vermont--where the bridesmaids wore white peasant blouses and red gingham skirts. She said, "that was a absolutely beautiful wedding Lisa. Do you know why? Because this wedding was a true reflection of the couple. It was unique to them, and that's the way it should be." So, with that said, my nieces wedding as "beautiful" as crazy as it was, it truly took a village to pull it off, and what a beautiful day it was. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. And to top it all off, I was honored to read "1 corinthians 1-13" at the ceremony. Which was more special than anything I remember doing for a very long time. Thank you Jess and Jon--I'm so proud of you, and know you will have a lifetime together full of laughter, love and joy. My brother ( my neices father) was so proud--it warmed my heart. I know he loves his girls more than life itself, and this day was a day he'd dreamed of since the day she was born. I was moved by him, and his love for her, and at a moment when everything was done and the celebration was in full swing, as my brother thanked me from the bottom of his heart for what I did to make this day perfect for his daughter--I told him, "that's ok, I know you'd do the same for my daughter--and I so want a daughter." I sooo pray God has that in His plan for me. All I can do is do everything in my power to make it so. Until then, I am blessed to be a special part of my siblings children, which in some ways are like my children too.

I am prompted to give this update--by something that happened on Wednesday of this week. It is a very special moment for Izabella--and I was reminded by a dear friend that I should document it for her--since it is the stuff of her Dad's heart.

It's preceeded by several "God's Wink" moments, that I will cherish forever. Small, simple and so precious.

Dan and I have been preparing for Izabella all our lives--but we have been preparing for her arrival from China since that fateful day in January 2007 after a Jane Pauly news story about China changing the adoptive parent requirements for chinese adoptions. AND officially preparing for her in Chinese Government terms since our LID--July 17, 2007. That means we've been officially in the cue for a referral to our Izabella for over a year--which means the U.S. Government requires us to renew our paperwork--which starts with having our fingerprints taken again--and a another FBI background check done--and then we apply again for another petition to adopt application--So, Wednesday Dan took off early from work to head down to the Federal Bldg. to do our fingerprints again---we arrived at the office at 3:45pm, I was told they were open til 5--but, when we arrived, they told us they were closed down for the day! You can imagine my surprise, disappointment--Dan had taken off early from work--and he wasn't exactly excited about doing it anyhow--so now what...our prints expire on the 6th, so we had just one more Wed to get it done--and frankly I wasn't sure Dan would take off again. As you all know he's the cookie cutter version of "reluctant husband". I looked at the lady and asked if she'd be so kind, to just run us through...I could see she was struggling with her decision. Then the security guard blurted out, "no, we're closed for the day!" I could see her still looking at my distraught husband--headed out the door saying, "Great, just Great.." I'm telling you it was all moving in slow motion--it was as if an angel was whispering in her ear, and I knew to stay quiet and let her decide. Then she said the most beautiful words, "ok, fill out the paperwork, I'll stop my reports and relaunch the system." Wow...I couldn't believe it. You would have thought I was on the million dollar question and just won a million dollars. I wanted to cry right there. I was so moved by her compassion for us. I was thinking if it didn't happen maybe it was a sign our journey was at an end. And as you all know, I'm so open to whatever God's plan is--whatever it is for us. So--we got our fingerprints, she gave us a customer service survey--and I was sure to get her name, intending to write a letter on her behalf for going above and beyond. But she handed us a customer survey--so Dan and I both proceeded to write a heartfelt thank-you to Evonne. In my note, I wanted her and her superiors to know the impact she just had on our lives. I shared with her--that there are so many bumps and challenges in this journey--many completely unexpected--and this day could have been yet another disappointment--but instead, she will be a special part of our Izabellas life. In a small but meaningful way--she gave our magic carpet a nudge and sent us on our way. Dan and I were smiling all the way down the elevator. Yup, Dan was smiling too--and said, "you goof ball, no government agency is open until 5pm, you should have known that, you're something else" he said with a twinkle in his eye. I was supposed to go back to my Studio to finish up a couple projects--but instead, Dan took us to a Chinese restaurant--where I found the most gorgeous prints I just have to have in my house. Where we got fortune cookies that taught us how to say "my brothers" and "my sisters" in Chinese. Where the waitress' were both from China--spoke very little English and helped us with the pronunciation of these praises...and my big Dan and I sat there repeating them to each other the best we could. It was another special moment.

But the grand finale for the evening was a blessing most would not recognize. I must preface this by saying--I have always believed, knowing my husband, that he was as on board with this adoption as I am, and that this adoption is special to him too, but he is not a risk-taker, he's a planner, he's a follower, and everyone around us has already raised their children and is planning for retirement, not planning to start a family. So I think his reluctance is grounded in his fear of being disappointed, the fear of not being there for her when she needs him, the fear of things not falling in place and we never see he, as far as I know, has never shared this adoption journey with anyone. He keeps it to himself, and thinks I should too, what if it never will hurt too bad.

So with all that said, back to the Chinese restaurant. Dan went to pay the bill, I was busy checking my studio mail on my phone, as I approached the checkout register, one of the beautiful Chinese women that waited on us said to me with a big smile, "you want to adopt from China?" I thought, "ok who told you that?" As I looked at my husband leaning over the counter signing the bill--with a big smile on his face. I said, "We ARE adopting from China, but the wait is very long." She was puzzled by the wait, she couldn't believe the process was so slow. My husband begins to explain the reasons for the wait...etc. As I stood there with the biggest smile on my face, watching him, explain the 1-child policy to this woman from China, and how the babies are abandoned, the government fines...etc. Yes, she already knew all that, but he was "sharing our journey". A remarkable landmark on this magic carpet ride. Just before we left, the woman asked, "you can adopt me!". My husband said, "ok." with a big smile. He said, how old are you? She said I'm 17, will be 18 in just 4 months, we probably have to do it before I become 18 right?" She was so sweet, I told her when we get Izabella home, we surely will bring her in to meet her. She said, "oh yes, you must." I think she would love her.

It was as if you could see his heart OPEN like a beautiful flower. Just to give this moment even more perspective--Just a few days earlier, he said to me after chatting with some new friends about our journey, "why do you have to tell people about that?", I said, "why not? It's a very important part of our lives...and I want to share it." He said nothing. Then this. It's such a precious transformation I see, before my eyes. It's slow, it's like a turtle it moves very slowly and purposefully, who pokes his head out to see if it's safe, and then gets scared again and retreats to his shell. My husband has the biggest heart--a heart of gold--a salt of the earth kind of guy--from Nebraska--that I'm sure never expected to be on a journey to China to start his family. I on the other hand have always know this was my destiny--the only way for me to build a family. So--I understand his reluctance--and I love him for his heart of gold--that he shows with caution and very tepedly.

I don't know how all this is going to be taken by everyone. I don't know if there are others that have reluctant spouses out there in the adoption community reading this entry. I'm sure there is a certain amount of reluctance in all of us--the un-certainty of this journey--certainly is flirting with disappointment. But for anyone who has a 'reluctant spouse"--you don't need to share that--I know that's a difficult thing to share that can be taken the wrong way. Mind you--my husband will love and cherish every inch of Izabella from the moment he lays eyes on her. And I have a feeling his heart will be a little less cautious and tedpid with her around--she'll expose it with all she is.

It's amazing how God works in our lives, His amazing ability to transform people's hearts and open lives to things they could only dream about. This is for everyone who ever wanted something so bad--and was met with such adversity--and disappointment in getting there. There is hope, have faith, and never, ever give up on your dreams.

Here's to a referral soon. :)

I love you little Izabella--you give me reason to keep going at times I want to give up on the most important things in my life. This journey to you have given feet to my rambling life--and purpose to life--and it has shown me--my dreams are just as important as anyone elses. The thoughts I have of who you will be, what you will become and everything you are--are such wonderful thoughts..they warm my heart and give my life hope and purpose. I can't wait to meet you, hold you, listen to your dreams and your desires, cry with you, laugh with you, and sit quiet with you. Soon my dear, soon. My sister, my mom tell me "it will happen, don't you worry Lisa, it will happen." To you--thank you for sticking by me through all this--thank you for not judging me--and sticking me in that ordinary box--letting me be me--understanding my destiny and who I am--loving me un-conditionally--and never letting me down. I love you with all my heart.

Love to all,
Izabella's Mom--(hee,hee that's me...!) xxoo