Kayli's eyes

Kayli's eyes

Monday, June 2, 2014

Gotcha Day's Three Year Anniversary: "A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words" but Doesn't Capture Everything

Our daughter is BEAUTIFUL.  Inside and out.  She is joyful and happy; despite everything.  Despite being abandoned, despite living two years in an institution, despite having a cleft lip/palate and being nutritionally staved the first 18 months of her life, despite having water blocked behind her ear drums and having 40% of her hearing deprived from her (virtually the equivalent of hearing the world around you as if you're under water) for the first three years, despite having severe ADHD as well as OCD and learning a new language, new boundaries, new relationships, having a severe speech delay and a developmental delay.  Despite it all, she exudes pure joy!

We have taken hundreds of pictures of her.  Pictures documenting all the amazing moments and sweet memories with her.  Pictures that depict her beauty, milestones, and accomplishments; her laughter and humor. But pictures do not capture the internal emotional struggles within her.  Her deep seeded insecurities and desperate emotional needs.  No pictures to show the tears, the frustration; her unbelievable struggle to know how to be social with other girls and play with them.  It doesn't show her confusion in communicating because of her lack of comprehension and ability to express herself even after three years.  It doesn't show the relational gap she and I have struggled to bridge all this time or striving to create a bond that is more exhausting work than it is just naturally happening .  

These three years have been a lot of work for her and incredibly challenging and hard for me as well.  I have struggled to connect with Kayli; to fully understand and get her.  So many things she chooses to do and so much of her personality I just don't understand or click with.  Our huge communication gap for the past three years has been taxing on us moving forward in our relationship together.  I ache to know my daughter and what she's feeling and thinking and the 'whys' behind some of the decisions and choices she makes.  I long for her to be able to express what she feels with vocabulary words instead of answering my question of, "what made you decide to do that?" with "I don't know" over and over for TWO YEARS because she just doesn't know how to form her thoughts into sentences.  

Most days are really really hard for me to connect with her.  I have to consciously CHOOSE to love her; it doesn't come naturally yet.  I struggle.  Every day I beg God to deepen my relationship with my daughter and give me the love I need for her.  To see her as He sees her and not see all the work and frustration she is most days.  Through this journey with Kayli, God has revealed HIS abundant unconditional love for His adopted children and how greatly I am incapable, in my flesh, to produce that no matter how hard I try or how desperately I know someone needs it from me.  Apart from God pouring in me and flowing out of me, I can do NOTHING!  I am learning to tap into Him everyday and allow Him to fuel me every moment.  But I'll be honest, most days, I completely fall down flat.

So today, the Lord inspired me to write a letter. To write a letter addressed to me as if it were coming from Kayli's biological mother herself.  So today, I took pen to the paper and I wrote a letter as if it were from the heart of Kayli's Chinese birth mom.

     'To my daughter's Mom and Dad,

   With a very reluctant heart, I am  leaving my daughter out of concern for her life and well being.  She was born with an abnormal mouth and because of it, she cannot get my milk.  I cannot give her the nutrition she needs to grow and thrive and I cannot afford to get the medical help she needs.  I have kept her as long as I possibly could because I love her so much.  No matter what those around me say, to me, she is beautiful.  I love looking at her big black eyes and seeing me in them.  I will miss her tiny hands and feet; her fingers grasping mine.  I will miss her eyes that smile so brightly at me.  This is the hardest thing I have ever done!  I will never hear her say "mama."  I will never witness her first steps, first birthday or first day of school.  I won't be there for her when the world is cruel to her, or care for her when she is sick or to give her guidance and instruction.  I will not get to watch her personality blossom.  I will miss all her birthdays and talents.  I will not see her graduate, help her shop for her first job, or plan her wedding with her.  I will never know the man she marries.  I won't be there on her wedding day as she walks down the aisle or when she gives birth to her children.  I will never know my grandchildren.  You will have this privilege.  You will be her "mama" and "daddy."  You will know her in ways I never will.  You will know her hopes and dreams and what she will aspire to be.  And I will miss it.  
As I sit here with tears streaming down, I implore you to please care for her as if she were your own.  Snuggle with her, kiss her boo-boos, read to her, admire her, encourage her, praise her, tell her she's beautiful, fuel and compliment her strengths and gently help her with her weaknesses.  Teach her and instruct her, giggle and play with her.  Protect and support her physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.  She will feel abandoned and alone.  She will feel different.  Please reassure her of your love for her; she will need to hear it and be shown it a lot.  Because of her insecurities she will not know how to fill that void and will try her hardest to constantly be loved and feel accepted and to get attention.  Please help her be aware and mindful of that but love her through it too.  My daughter will be a challenge.  She will struggle with both her father's and mother's sins as well as the consequences of giving her up and because of that you will struggle to relate to her.  Being abandoned by me will also cause trauma that she may always struggle with as a result.  She will need your help.  It crushes me and I ache to my bones to think about the impact abandoning her will do to her.  It's more than I can bear.  But I know you can help her through that and I'd rather her struggle through that and live life than watch her helplessly deteriorate and die so young and tiny and frail. - She needs you.  She needs your tender care and love.  I weep abundantly knowing I can no longer care for her.  For nine months I felt her grow and move inside me.  I dreamt of holding her, raising her and being her mom.  I pictured my future with her as I anticipated her arrival!  In all my dreams I never imagined I would be experiencing this heartache and decision.  I feel crushed under the weight of sorrow and grief.  And now, holding her in my arms the past two and half months and trying to provide what she needs, I can't seem to make myself to put her down in this quiet still of the night. - I want this moment in time with her to stop and be able to hold her close to me always.  I want to breathe in her smell and cover her in kisses.  I want to hold onto this moment forever.  But I cannot give her what she needs.  I must give her away.  Give away the right to care for her, the right to know her as she grows, the right to name her.  I must give her away.  I must give her to you and entrust all my hopes, desires, and dreams for her to you.  Please tell her I loved her and if I could have cared for her needs I would have.  I would have kept her in a heartbeat.  Tell her I will miss her, think of her, and love her everyday of my life.  Let her know this was the hardest thing I've ever done or will ever do.  Hug her every morning and kiss her every night.  And let her know when she looks in the mirror so much of who she sees is me and her dad.  But if she ever still questions her place and belonging in life, point her to Jesus.  Our heavenly Father is the only one that can ever fully fill us.  Gently tell her that every human being feels like they don't belong because God as told us this world is not our home and because of that, she is not so different from every other person.  Our heavenly eternal home is waiting for us and her Creator desires to meet ALL her needs.  So please, point her to Jesus, hold her for me, cover her in kisses; kisses that I can no longer give her.  For she is precious indeed!'

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Gotcha Day's 1 Year Anniversary

It's hard to believe that this day has arrived, and so quickly.  This past year has been filled with so many highs and lows for me, as Kayli's Mom.  But I couldn't be more proud nor more in love with this joyful little girl; this beautiful daughter of mine, Kayli Hope.  She shares my middle name, Hope.  For just as my Mother deeply hoped in the Lord for a little girl and in doing so gave me that middle name, so I too deeply longed and hoped for over 10 years that we would one day be able to adopt a little girl from China!  Psalm 62:5 "Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him."  And now, one year after having her placed in my arms for the very first time, my sweaty, chicken-poxed, sobbing little girl, we celebrate God's faithfulness!  She was perfect!  This video is to celebrate Gotcha Day and her homecoming.  We love you Kayli Hope.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Arriving Home

A friend of ours documented our arrival home from China with our new daughter on June 11th and turned it into a  treasured keepsake.  We were led to believe that only our family was going to be there to greet us but we were pleasantly surprised by our church small group who were standing there, along with our family, cheering and celebrating with us!  It was overwhelming to feel their support and see the love.  We arrived so late in the evening (after being delayed) and couldn't believe they were all willing to come with their kiddos and everything!  They were all so excited for us and anxious to meet Kayli; it was amazing!!!  As I am coming around the corner when I put my hands up to my cheeks and looked at Shane right at the beginng it was because I caught a glimpse of everyone who had came and turned to Shane and said, "They all came!  They're all here!"  I was overwhelmed.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

In Guangzhou

got into our hotel in guanzhou last night half past midnight. long day! but Kayli did AMAZING on her first flight; even with the plane being 40 minutes delayed and then sitting on the runway for 20 minutes. not one fuss sitting in her airplane seat buckled down! course she cried the entire 50 minute drive to the airport! lol!  before we boarded the plan we gave her benedryl to help her go to sleep since it was after her bedtime anyway. at take off she took a bottle and then fell right to sleep and slept the entire flight!

never would have guessed how emotionally taxing this experience is! missing the boys, and then seeing some habits of Kayli's that formed from being cooped up neglected in a crib for month and months on end. even though the orphanage she was at was fantastic, there is still an emotional bonding that does not form for institutionalized children. and even though they were great about getting her out and interacting with her it does not compare to a home environment and as best ast hey try to be, she still spent a lot of time in her crib. it grieves me when I see kayli act certain ways. one of her feet turns way out when she walks from pushing herself around in a walker for months and months on end. another thing she does if she is forced to sit in her stroller, on our lap in one position for a while, or when we put her down for a nap, she bobs her head from side to side (much like an animal in a zoo cage) it just turns back and forth and back and forth from months on months of boredum. it's unbelievable how constantly she is moving; the adoption book we have classifies as Hypervigilant (looks much like ADHD), constantly in a "fight or flight" mode. she had so many different caretakers that are constantly changing from night to day shifts, "mama's" and teachers that change, kids there with her growing close to and then gone the next day (due to being adopted), and then the fact that she was starved for so many many months. 18 months of having a cleft lip/palate and not getting enough to eat. being way underweight and living with that starving sensation for a year and half of her 2 year old life! reading about what that state of condition can do to a developing brain at her age. she is constantly worried about us leaving her or being left, fussing if one of us isn't down on the floor playing with her every moment she is awake. wanting to hold our hand while she rides in the stroller is her way of assuring herself that we're still there and we're not leaving her. ....all of that, knowing that the conditions of her life have placed her in a state of constant anxiety, stress, and worry... it breaks my heart! i want to take it all away and redo the past two years of her life for her but I can't. it pains me as her mamma. so very emotionally taxing. I have not been sleeping well some due to the incredibly hard beds but mostly just from stress. I've have had really really bad dreams almost every night's sleep. awful awful dreams that I still remember in the morning and then have to unwind from those. such horrible vivid dreams that i have a hard time shaking. being here at the white swan hotel in guangzhou today has helped tremendously! it is a very westernized area and this hotel is catered specifically to adoption families! it's amazing! Every family at the breakfast in the buffet was families with their adopted son or daughter many with multiples from adoptions in the past. and then to be back with our Great Wall families that we were with the first week in Beijing has been such a comfort. had not idea how much not being with any other family in Xi'An was effecting me until we got here and after spending half the day with them, my moral is so much better! Shane and I really hit it off one another couple from South Carolina. We are very compadable couples and we both adopted 2 year old daughters with cleft lip/palate (their daughters also surprisingly repaired!). AFter the kids had their medical exams we all four went to a starbucks together and enjoyed a cool drink to beat the heat and humidity here. our girls just babbled back and forth and with us while us adults gabbed about our experiences over the past week. -so refreshing! our room here is the best so far too which helps! it's really the little things... :) while we don't have a lounge area in the room (it cost way too much more to get that) we managed to hang a sheet up to divide Kayli's crib from the rest of the room to give her and us more privacy during her nap and bed time. I'll have shane post of a picture of it when he gets back. I'm thankful I brought safety pins to do that! it worked out great! just hoping the cleaning ladies and staff doesn't get upset when they come in to clean the room and see it. one side of the sheet is pinned into the curtains and the other is tied around the standing lamp they have. There is also nice radio system in the room with a channel that plays classical music so that helps drown out our noise while she naps! very thankful for that! well, just wanted to fill you all in and update you a little! thank you for your continued prayer-all of you! we have seen God working! Kayli is an incredible gift and so wonderfully amazing! She really is adapting well and has such a strength about her! I find comfort in that. I know with God's work and our careful and patient love she will mend, she will heal, and she is going to thrive!!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

5 Hours to Landing

My Journaling on the plane ride over:

We are five hours from landing in Beijing.  I have been sleeping for the past six hours of the flight thanks to the help of natural meds.  Now I find myself very sleepy but I can't sleep.  Mostly I'm gripped with fear. Up to this point it has been excitement and joy with little doses of fear here and there.  But now, fear seems to be the dominating thoughts in my head.

All the unknowns.  What is this transition going to look like?  How much more exhaustion are we going to endure once we have her here when I  feel drained and empty from travel already?  What is the traveling home with her going to be like?  I haven't made a bottle of formula in 3 years; 'now how do I do that again?'  and how do i do that when I packed a bag of formula but forgot to include the scoop?  what kind of emotional walls are we going to hit with Kayli?  What emotional damage has been done in her up to now?  Will she ever heal and re-wire her emotional primal survival instincts that she's had to develop in order to cope in an environment where she's been starved and neglected?  Will she ever connect with us and become emotionally healthy?  Will she have RAD?  So many unknowns.  I am so thankful that there is One who does know.  He knows.  and He calls me to cast all of my cares upon Him and lay all of my burdens down at His feet.  I know He promises not to give us more than we can handle and I know full well that this is the child He chose for us.  He made that so undeniable evident when we were looking over her file.  This child that we have been praying over for 9 years now, ever since God sparked the desire to adopt in our hearts.  this child that SO many others have been praying over for the last 13 months.  I know that "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of sound mind." (2 Timothy 3:16).  'Lord, fill my head with the knowledge that I know to be true in my heart.  Do not allow fear to grip me any longer.  I trust You.  The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.  Father, I need Your strength for this journey ahead of us.  A strength that I've never known or experienced before.  I need Your peace that passes all understanding, Lord.  I need You.  For I am weak.  Thank You for Your Word that comforts me so.  In it, You remind me that Your "grace is sufficient for me.   For Your power is made perfect in my weakness.  Therefore, I will boast all the more in my weakness" so that You may be glorified!  I am not capable of this road ahead of us, but I know that you are.... And Your peace flows in.

After this I watched a movie and then slept for another hour and half and woke up right as they were announcing our descent.  it was a good flight for me.  Shane did not sleep as long as I did but he did sleep so that's good.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

On Our Way To The Airport

The ups and downs and ins and outs of all the emotions I've experienced the last 12 days find me surprisingly calm this early Wednesday morning. Course it could just be that I'm not fully awake yet. Looking forward to when this all sinks in. Right now it feels like I'm watching someone else's life unfold! This has truly been a desire we have had for so long and experiencing the Lord's provision and presence throughout the whole process has been so smooth, so unbelievably easy, and filled with SO much support that this just doesn't seem real at all! God is in the details and He is SO good!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Gotcha Day's A-comin!

I just spend the last 15 minutes or so watching other families "Gotcha Days" on youtube and I am getting SOOO excited for our Gotcha Day!  Soon!  4-5 more days before we're holding our precious daughter in our arms!  Wow!  Praise You, Lord for your amazing gifts!  How blessed am I.  How blessed am I!

Kayli's Room is Ready For Her Arrival!

One More Day

13 months of paperwork, processing, and waiting is at last down to just one day away.  One day away from boarding a plane that will take us on a Journey of a Lifetime and change our lives forever.  Our Lord is sovereign!  He works all things for the good of those that love Him.  So with that, we place all our uknowns, uncertainties, fears, concerns, worries, axiety, and our lack of ability in the One who is able to make all things new; even Kayli's abandoned and hurting heart.  Shane's parents emailed us a prayer poem that seemed so approrpiate for where we're at and what our thoughts are just one day away.

God's Little Girl

Oh, little girl, from a far away land.
Right from the start from the Father's hand,
He fashioned your frame in ways so grand,
And loves you in ways you don't understand.

And though we've yet to hold your precious frame,
You've captured our hearts and we long to call your name.
We thank God for you , a gift so sweet and pure
And pray for you, to know His Son for sure.

And as you grow, may you always know.
The Lord is with you wherever you go.
We promise to love you thro' all of your days,
But never forget, His love is far greater always.

Our Father's Son, he freely gave.
And all who believe, He surely will save.
Oh little girl, we're all adopted at so great a price,
But as God's little girl, you've been chosen twice.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Coming to Get You Kayli!!

An amazing friend of ours made a short fun video of us and Kayli!  Check it out!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTH9MaC2xB4

Kayli's History

Painting the House and Bowling

Yeah, we're painting the house; with only three days until we leave for China.  And yes, we're crazy.  We're doing it up Shane and Alana style; as usual.  We painted most of the house about a month ago and had quite a bit left of edging in some rooms and all of the above one story high, two story high walls left to complete it.  So we had a few guys from our Community Group come over and help us crank it out. 

In a little while we're going to take the boys bowling using our $25 Summer Bowling Family Pass.  The boys have never bowled before so they are very excited!  We got the pass so that their Uncle and Nana could take them while we're away or for needed quiet times around the house once we return.  We wanted to do one last family outing as a family of 6 before Shane and I leave on Wednesday.  I'm looking forward to spending some quality time with them.  We've been SO busy getting ready that the quality time with them has suffered as a result.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Feeling Overwhelmed

nuff said.  This is a post traveler's packing list and the items in red describe if they used the item or not.  very helpful!