Monday, December 31, 2012

New Picture of Tulip

As I mentioned before, there is an organization called International China Concern that is working in the orphanage that Tulip lives in.  I sent them an e-mail over the weekend looking for someone who had some more information on Tulip and also letting them know that we are adopting her.  This morning I received a series of replies from the acting director.  Here is some of what she said:

"Oh Carin, really, little Pumpkin - how blessed your family will be, she is such a heart breaker - much, much loved - how lovely."

"I've known her from when she first came into our centre - together with pictures.  Much love has been poured into her life to get her to where she is today.  We even have video footage of her story - she is indeed a star!" 

"K*** will be very very excited as we all are to see her go to her forever family.  Her life is such a testament to what ICC (International China Concern) does."

And then she sent me a picture of Tulip--just taken last month.  What a sweetie! I can't wait to kiss those cheeks!!!  This picture and the promise of more to come will help us get through the coming months of waiting. 


Christmas Eve 2012

Christmas Eve 2012

Dear Tulip,
It's Christmas Eve.  I know that probably means nothing to you right now.  Your life today will be the same tomorrow no matter what the date on the calendar reads.  But I wanted to let you know how OUR Christmas Eve has changed because of a little girl with lopsided pony tails and an extra chromosome.
 As I am writing this,  Daddy, Anne, Isaac and Clara are walking around downtown Hamilton looking for the lowest members of our society--the drunks, the drug addicted, the lonely.  We have prepared a gift for them-a small stocking stuffed with a few new things and a hand written Christmas card. 





Tulip, you have taken us out of our comfort zone.  Somehow, loving you has awakened a sense of responsibilty to the forgotten and vulnerable around us.  Did you know that when I was in the grocery store this week  I missed a chance to defend a vulnerable man?  I watched and listened as two able minded grown men taunted another man (who was clearly mentally disabled). I am so ashamed that I didn't step between them.  Tulip, that may be you in 20 years--you might have a job at a grocery store and work with other adults who think their life is of more value than yours.  Obviously, I need to start praying for boldness.

Thanks to you our family has spent the last 24 evenings thinking and praying about the stark contrast of the life we live in Bermuda and the life that you live in China. Between the life of a child with a family and the life of a child without a family. We have collected nickels, dimes, quarters and dollar bills to help an orphan just like you in Africa.

 Precious child,  it is my prayer that Christmas Eve 2012 is the last one you spend without a mommy and a daddy, two sisters and two brothers.  I pray that God will bring us together at some point over the next 12 months so that you and I will both grow in our understanding what love true love is.
Merry Christmas Tulip!
Love Mommy
P.S. I bought you a present--okay two presents.  They are waiting here for you!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Provision

We love her and want the very best for her right now but we have absolutely no way to insure that will happen.  

But God also wants the very best for her right now.  He does have the power to place people in her life. To love her and care for her. To protect her like we long to do.

Guess what we found out today?  God is doing exactly that.

Over the past month or so I have seen other waiting adoptive families getting pictures and information about their child from other families picking up their child from the same orphanage.  I was jealous.  I wanted that same confirmation--those precious updated pictures and information.  Yesterday, in a moment of curiosity and possibly desperation I Googled the Social Welfare Centre where Tulip lives.  A site came up called International China Concern.  I clicked over and learned some amazing information my friends.  ICC has a team working in Tulip's orphanage.  This is an overtly Christian organization that provides physical and occupational therapy to the children who live there.  They have teams of Christian volunteers that come to play and love our little Tulip.  They also provide education and support to parents who have a desire to parent their disabled child.

I continued looking through their site today and you will never believe what I found.  In ICC's 2011 summary newsletter dated Dec.31, 2011 there is a story about our sweet girl with two more pictures of her!!

"****** is a little tiny girl with Down’s syndrome. She was
abandoned, probably when her parents discovered her disability
in January 2011. For over two months she lived in the government
Welfare Centre where she became thin and
frail. She developed severe infections throughout her body and
hovered close to death until a space finally became available with
us in one of the Baby Rooms.
At first we didn’t know if she would survive the re-feeding
process and the infections in her body, but her caregivers
patiently nursed, cleaned and fed her, and the nurses
checked on her several times a day. After about a week, a
nasogastric tube was inserted to feed her as she was too
weak to get all the nutrition she needed.
Throughout all of this her eyes looked at us deep and wide and seriously, and she
did not give up in her spirit. One of the local nurses spoke of her saying, “her eyes
speak words to us.” After several weeks of feeding and lots of love, care and attention
from the caregivers in her room, She started to turn a corner. Her frail
4.3 kg body was soon over 6 kg and as of October 2011 was 7.1 kg. She is still a
petite little girl, but she is healthy and interactive, learning to play, stand, communicate
and love others. She has a great appetite and she is healthy. Her life speaks of
the wonderful saving grace of God."






That's our baby!  We knew from her medical report that she was very sick and on the verge of death.  What we didn't know was how God provided for her.
Now we know.  The volunteer's of ICC saved our daughter's life!

God wanted the very best for Tulip when he placed Christian volunteers in the Social Welfare Centre in 2011 to nurse a very sick little girl back to perfect health.

God wants the very best for her right now and he has placed people in her life to love her, play with her, care for her weak muscles and protect her.

I am ashamed of my doubt and worry.
I think my fears are justified but God keeps showing me they are not.
He has cared for her for much longer than I have.
He has carried her in his hands and he loves her much deeper and stronger and I ever will.

Dear sweet Tulip,
You are in good hands. 
Love Mommy

Do you want to see Tulip?????????????
Here is a video we found with her in it!!!!!
I think you should watch the whole thing but just in case you are short on time she hits the screen at minute 4:08.

To God be the Glory.





Full Support

I have been remiss to thank all who have sent us an e-mail, given us a call, posted a Facebook message or prayed for us over the past couple of months.  So, THANK YOU.
I know from a frank conversation I had with someone a few weeks ago that some of you don't know what to say or how to say it.  You don't want to ask too much or too little.  You have no emotional connection with Tulip--she is just a little Chinese girl with Down Syndrome. You are afraid that we are making the wrong decision, haven't thought through all of the ramifications or that we will be hurt during this process.  Some of you are just so busy with your own lives that Tulip hasn't crossed your mind since you first heard of her.  And so you say nothing.
I will tell you three very honest things:
1. We do notice and it saddens us.
2. We understand.  This type of adoption is unique.  There are many unanswered questions.  We are willingly bringing a child with a life-long disability into our family.
3. Despite the lack of support from some people, we feel an amazing amount of support from other sometimes unexpected people.  Look at this e-mail that Adam's boss sent to his boss today:

"Our sole consular officer, Adam and his wife, Carin, are adopting a Down Syndrome Child from China.  They are approaching the end of the process and will move on to the immigration phase shortly.  As best Adam can tell, he and Carin will have to travel to China sometime next spring – in April or May, most likely – to take care of things there.  He figures he’ll need to be away from post for about a month. 
 
Adam has my full support for what he and Carin are doing, and I hope the Department would support them, as well.  His absence, however, will put our three-officer post in a bind.   Accordingly, I plan to put in a request for a TDYer as the time approaches and when we have a better sense of when exactly Adam will likely be gone.  I would hope that our situation would be given careful and ultimately favorable consideration."

The part that brought tears to my eyes was "Adam has my full support for what he and Carin are doing."   

'Full support'
Not, 'Well, I told you so support'
Not, 'I hope you have thought this through support'
Not, 'That's nice for you but it's not for me support'  

If you are one who doesn't know how to support our family--you don't know what to say or when to say it, or you don't know if you even agree with what we are doing can I ask you do be honest with us?  Can you call us or e-mail us and tell us that?  Because if you do that then we have a place to start from--and hopefully, a place to move forward from {together} so that by the time Tulip comes home we have your

Full Support.

Paperwork

It seems that each adoption is held up at some point or another by paperwork-or the lack thereof.  Well friends, we are in that place right now.  We are waiting for ONE paper.  One really dumb piece of paper from........you guessed it (or maybe you didn't) Washington DC-the most bureaucratic 68.3 square miles in the US or A.
What is the paper we are chasing?  A child abuse report to insure that while we were living in Washington DC for five months in 2006 we didn't abuse or neglect a child in our care.  Washington DC reserves the right to take 30 days to return the form to you.  We filled this form out in August.  They sent it back to our agency in October because silly us, when it asked us to fill out the addresses we have lived at since the age of 18, we thought they meant in the addresses in DC (it is a child abuse check for DC only--we also filled out separate forms for Maryland and Michigan).  No, they wanted every single address we have lived  since the age of 18--in and out of DC.  So now they are allowing themselves another 30 days to get to our file again.  The supervisor NEVER answers her phone or returns voice mails.  So, we wait. And wait.
This paper is all we need to complete our homestudy report-which needs to be completed before we can obtain an I-797 which is the only document needed to complete our Dossier for China.
S.O.
V.E.R.Y.
F.R.U.S.T.R.A.T.I.N.G.

The Launch

Dear Tulip,
          On the evening of your birthday, while you were still snug in your crib in China, we were far out on the very easternmost tip of Bermuda with a cardboard box full of Chinese lanterns.  What I had envisioned and hoped to be a 'holy' and 'breathtaking' time of reflection and thanksgiving turned out (as usual) to be something quite the opposite.
       Tulip, I wanted to launch four Chinese lanterns on the evening of your birthday to acknowledge the four special groups of people in your life:
1. Your birth family-who gave you life
2. Your orphanage family-who has sustained your life over the past 2 years
3. Your adoptive family-who will give you a future
4. Your Heavenly Father-who brought all of the groups of people listed above in and out of your life

The symbolism was there.  However, the perfect conditions for lantern lighting were not.  First of all, we had no idea what we were doing.  Having never lit these types of lanterns before and finding the directions were clearly NOT written by an English speaker, we had two strikes against us immediately.  Then add in the constant 'island breeze' and 82% humidity and we were quickly heading toward disaster.
Your daddy, bless his heart, never gave up.
 
 He burned off the tip of his finger and nearly lit his shirt of fire in his determination to light those four lanterns.  We could only get half of the lanterns to fly--the other two plummeted onto the rocks and burned up.  I cringed as that happened because I was so stuck on the symbolism of the four lanterns--I wanted all four to fly so badly and for everything to work out perfectly.  BUT, the longer I stood there and waited for Daddy to light the each lantern, I realized that the true symbolism was captured.  Not in the four I had pictured in my mind's eye, but in those two tenacious lanterns that, against all odds, did somehow manage to take flight high above the Atlantic ocean.

Tulip, as that first lantern struggled to gain strength and altitude, I couldn't help but think of it as a symbol of you--with all the odds against you, you falter, dipping down dangerously close to danger.....
.....but then slowly you inch back up....
climbing higher and higher.....
until--you take off!
All the while your biggest fans are cheering--
Go Tulip!!
GO!!
FLY!!
YAHOO!
SHE'S FLYING!
WE DID IT!!*
{*these were the actual words we were shouting at the Chinese lantern. Mercifully, there were no witnesses}
Sweetie, we are ready to cheer you on--to watch you fly.  We will support you when you falter and yell like crazy people when you finally succeed. Some things are not going to work out 'perfectly' or 'beautifully'--some days will feel the exact opposite of 'holy' and 'breathtaking'. But man, that is where the true beauty will lie.

You are so deeply loved Tulip.  Hurry home, OK?
Love, Mommy

Happy 2nd Birthday Tulip!

 Today is Tulip's 2nd birthday. It most likely is not really her birthday. When she was found on January 2 and brought to the orphanage they estimated her to be about 3 months old. It bothers me a little big bit that I will never know her actual birthday because if you haven't noticed, we like to make a big deal out of birthdays.  I am coming to terms with some of the unknowns that encircle an orphan's past but I think I should be allowed to grieve the fact that no one that she knows is going to celebrate her today.  We were able to send her a birthday gift (which we hope arrived) before we left Michigan.  More than likely, the orphanage did not know that Tulip had even been chosen to be adopted until they opened her birthday box and read the paperwork our agency had prepared. Perhaps she will get some extra attention now that they know.  I also wondered if maybe her nanny was sad when she read the letter and saw our picture knowing that Tulip would be leaving in a few months.
 We plan to celebrate Tulip's birthday tonight with some take-out Chinese food, a birthday cake, and one other surprise that I will share later.  It doesn't seem quite right not to celebrate because well, she is alive and we do consider her part of our family- even though there is lots of paperwork and many miles separating us.

 I have also begun to work on a special gift for Tulip--her very own quilt.  We would like to invite everyone to be a part of the making of this quilt.  More details later but here is a sneak peek of the blocks. 
 

Dear Tulip,
Happy Birthday sweet girl!  We are celebrating you today--that you were granted life two years ago,  that you have survived some hard and dangerous circumstances, and that you have been given a NEW HOPE and a future with our family.  We are imagining that when you fall asleep tonight, you are cuddled up with the new soft blankie that we sent.  
Love, Mommy, Daddy, Anne, Isaac, Clara and Josiah
P.S. We smothered your blankie with hugs and kisses before we wrapped it in the box :)







Our Journey to Tulip Part One

Who or what is Tulip?  Tulip is the nickname that our kids gave TuYuan the first time they saw her picture.  Clara thought that her little pigtails looked like the top of a tulip and she exclaimed, "Let's call her Tulip!"  Somehow it stuck.  So from now on (until another suitable name is agreed upon {which is looking a bit unlikely these days}) we will refer to her as Tulip. We have nothing against her Chinese name except for the fact that we have no idea how to say it correctly and so it turns into a fumbled mess each time we try and that feels strange.  Simplicity, my friends. Tulip it is, thanks Clara!
For AMY (my sister) see the Chinese characters on the back of the chair--those could be her name--not sure.


I can't possibly share our entire journey to Tulip in one post.  It is a long story. And parts of it are private. And sad. And parts of it still don't make sense to us. But I can tell you this much--this Journey to Tulip has been forming for much longer than most of you suspect.

Have you ever felt like there was one particular thing that you were created to do?
Imagine each life as a beautiful painting.  So intricate and detailed that you can't just give it a once over and walk away.
You must start on one side of the painting and slowly, bit by bit, let your eyes roll over each shape, each color, each stroke in order to fully grasp the beauty of the whole painting.

Over the past few months I have allowed my eyes to slowly roll over the painting of my life and I can't help but notice the repetition that The Artist used.
  • I started preschool in 1979 at Seymour Christian School--look what else happened in 1979 at Seymour: "A successor of the Pine Rest Children’s Retreat, the Christian Learning Center, sponsored by the Grand Rapids Christian School Association, opened its doors with an Exceptional Needs program in the fall of 1979 on the campus of Seymour Christian School."
    I have very vivid and fond memories of sharing eight years of my educational life with kids who had a variety of special needs including Down Syndrome.  
  • Two little girls with DS were born to families on my childhood street. That street has only 39 houses.  I was asked to babysit for both of those families and I babysat one of those little girls at least two days a week for over two years. She was non-verbal (she still is) and pretty low functioning.
  • A family that I had previously babysat for had a third child after they had moved out of the area.  That little girl was born with DS.  I was in high school at the time, but I still remember the birth announcement that they sent me (and all other family and friends) with a very honest and loving note describing their new daughter and her diagnosis.  I kept that note for many years because I admired the way that they had handled a very hard situation.
  • In high school I was a counselor at Camp Sunshine.  No surprise that I was paired with a girl with DS :)
  • In high school and college I volunteered with Friendship Ministries. Once again, I was paired with individuals with DS.
  • I was a special education major at Calvin College however, I never really wanted to teach in a special education class. Instead,  I thought maybe just maybe someday I would parent a child with DS.  So, technically I spent $60,000 preparing to be Tulip's mother.  Not surprising though, my special education student aiding was done in a class room of preschoolers with DS-go figure. 
  • When I worked for a private reading company in Maryland in 2002, I taught a 50 year old woman with DS how to read.  That was a great experience.
  • In Mexico in 2004, I volunteered at a state run orphanage once a week.  I was assigned to the baby room where there was the sweetest little baby with DS.  I almost tried to smuggle him out one week :)
  • While in Armenia I volunteered at an orphanage for children with special needs.  There were 8 children with DS who lived there.  7 were feisty and one was a tiny and gentle girl named Stella.  Adam and I discussed adopting her. We chose not to. Now we know why. I still think of her often but I did hear she was adopted by a German family. I pray she is living a wonderful life.
  • In June of 2010, I expressed my passion for DS on this blog in this post.  Of the roughly 703 posts I have written on Diplofam, this one I am most proud of. 
Dear Tulip,
Did you know there is an awesome Artist that has painted a masterpiece of your life?  I haven't seen it yet but I know that it will be beautiful. I know there will be mystery and sadness mixed in.  Your mother and father, maybe even your grandmother and grandfather could only see part of the painting--they couldn't see the whole picture.  But the Artist knows. And He loves you.
And so do I,
Mommy