Thursday, October 22, 2015

Our Journey to Wren-Part IV

This will be the final post, at least for now, about our journey to Wren.
This story is about Wren's name.
When we first saw Wren's Chinese name, we weren't quite sure whether we should keep it as her given name or use it for a middle name.  Her Chinese name is spelled "Yuan".  Some of you will recognise it as being the same spelling as the Chinese currency. We immediately googled how to pronounce Yuan as a name and it pronounced it as "You an".  We were a bit disappointed as we really didn't want our child to have the name of a currency! 
So we began searching for a name, but nothing seemed to fit this sweet girl.
And then, in chatting with one of the gals we had connected with, we discovered how Yuan's name is really pronounced.
But let me back track just a bit...
This past summer was an unusually busy one for us.  Summer is always busy, with all the yard and garden work, and with Martin's work.  It's been a year where many in the construction industry had a slower start or even a slower year.  That wasn't the case for us.  Martin has been going non stop.  With the adoption and hearing that many trades were struggling to find work, Martin plowed ahead and took on all the work he could. 
With very few breaks, we worked hard to take some time to connect with each other and to relax. Each morning Martin and I would take our morning "must have" drinks to the back deck and we would enjoy the peace and quiet.  In true Martin form, he would always be outside much earlier than I.  Many mornings he would mention that one particular bird would always greet him with a song.  He often mentioned that he felt this little bird was God's gift to him, a gift to cheer him up.  Several times Martin wondered what kind of bird it was, and finally he researched it.  It was a wren. 
Well, we didn't think too much of this little bird, until we learned how Yuan's name is really pronounced!
Would you believe it...
Yuan is pronounced WREN!!
We love the name Wren and feel it is the perfect name!  And although you've already met her, let me introduce to you...
Wren Karlie Grace Peters!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Our Journey to Wren-Part III

This mornings Facebook feed was filled with people's opinions and concerns about last nights Federal Election.  As with most elections, the majority of people are not happy about the outcome. Some are very concerned.  Some are downright afraid.  And I can't say I blame them! 
 It would be very easy to sit here and worry, but that is NOT what we will do!  You see, that part of our belief that God works all things for His glory, and for good, is still so very, very true!  My post today shows just how incredibly good God is!  And perhaps, instead of worrying about our countries future, you can rejoice with us at this miraculous journey to Wren, and see that He has everything in the palm of His hands!
 This past weekend was a very emotional one for us.  So many things happened that left us with hearts so full that the tears kept coming.  (I still have big, puffy circles under my eyes.) 
One of the biggest challenges for this mama's heart is to grieve all that we have missed with each of our adopted kids.  We have missed that first smile, their first words, sometimes their first steps...the list goes on.  And it's hard not to get stuck in mourning all that we have missed; not to mention all that our kids have missed.  We consciously make the effort to focus on all that we do get to be a part of...that first "I love you" said confidently because he/she knows they belong here forever; the privilege of holding our kids each and every day, showering them with our love; being their for them when they have surgeries, or struggle with the normal life issues.
It's so very hard to wonder whether our child is being cared for by loving care givers.  It's hard not knowing how they were cared for during those crucial developmental years.  It's hard not knowing if they have been lonely, sad, or afraid.
My prayer of late has been that God would restore all the years that the locusts took. 
And unknown to us, that was already happening even before we knew Wren existed!
Thanks to the big world of social media, we have come in contact with some incredible, God loving people.  The first connection quickly snowballed into more incredible connections.
I'd like you guys to meet Tara and Stephan, and their amazing family! 

 This family has spent time in China, fostering China's orphans and working with orphanages.  Not just any orphanage, but the orphanage where Wren is!!  Can you believe that?!?! How amazing to have this connection!  But the story doesn't end there.

 Not only did this family meet Wren back in 2013, but they saw her potential, saw that spark in her eyes and knew they had to be her voice.  They worked hard to convince the staff that Wren would be wanted by a family.  They prayed for Wren...and her forever family! 

But the story doesn't end there. For about six months, this family became Wren's family.  They brought her into their home, loved her, tucked her into bed at night, told her how much they loved her, gave her the opportunity to see what a family looks like, and most importantly...they taught her about Jesus and how very much she is valued!

Folks, this family has oodles of pictures and even videos of Wren!  How cool is that?!?

Every time I think about all of this, the tears well up.  How very, very good our God is!!

And we have the comfort of knowing that if we can't travel before Christmas, this family will once again welcome Wren into their home until we arrive. 

To all you who read my blog... I know many of you are incredible prayer warriors... would you prayer for Tara and Stephan and family?  Pray for them as their hearts ache for their foster kids.  Many of you are seasoned foster parents and you know it never gets easier.  You know that loving with abandonment causes your heart to hurt. 

Tara, Stephan and family...we will FOREVER be grateful for ALL you have done for our daughter, Wren!  And for us!


That's not where the story ends!

As you all know, social media is great in making connections.  And that's exactly what has been happening! 

We have also connected with Katie, who also worked in China and met Wren!  Katie has helped Wren with her physical therapy.  She has graciously sent us pictures and shared the details of Wren's life, during her time in China...from spring of 2012 till the later part of 2013.  We have pictures of Wren missing her two front teeth, doing cup runneth over!

But that's not where the story ends!

We've connected with Megan, who has worked hard to advocate for Wren. She has been instrumental in helping Wren find her forever family

We have also connected with Karissa, who has spent time with Wren over the past three years!

.  All of these people confirm that Wren is a sweet girl, and such a very special little girl!

And we've connected with Mary, who is also adopting a child that was in the same orphanage and foster home as Wren.

With all of these connections, we have learnt there have been many, many, many people praying for Wren, praying for her forever family.  To all of you who have prayed for Wren, and for us...we thank you from the bottom of our hearts! 

We ask that you continue to pray for Wren, and our entire family as this journey has just begun.

So when we thought we would be missing out on even more than with any of our other adoptions, even before we knew about Wren, God was placing amazing people in her life, and God in His goodness was beginning to restore all that the locusts took!

And then last, but not least...friends of ours blessed us in a way that knocked our socks off!  You know who you are!  You literally made us cry!  Thank you so very much!!

No wonder the song, "My God is so Big, So Strong, and so Mighty" keeps running through my mind!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

For He IS Good!

So I don't have the time to write all that I want at the moment, but I simply had to let you all know there is so VERY, VERY much goodness happening in our lives right now.  God REALLY does have his handprint ALL over this adoption!
In the past few days I have been in touch with a few people that have incredibly big hearts!  Hearts that reflect a crystal clear picture of the love of our God!  Hearts that have, and are impacting not only our precious Wren, but us as a family as well.  I'm in tears as I write this.  I know my God is big, and powerful, and oh so loving!  But sometimes, sometimes...things happen that are bigger and better than I could ever have imagined.  And all I can do is fall to my knees, with tears streaming down my face, thanking HIM for all He has done and all HE is doing!
So for now, I will take some time to ponder all these things, to treasure them in my heart, to thank God for all He has and is doing! 
Cause sometimes this mama simply needs to be quiet and bask in the wonder of HIS grandeur!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Our Journey to Wren-Part II

It's been a super crazy week!  We've been frantically paper chasing, in a rush to possibly be able to travel in November.  The biggest obstacle at the moment is still citizenship.  We still haven't heard back from our MP.  :(  On top of all that, our internet has been sporadic and I actually had a complete meltdown about it one day.  I know that sounds pathetic, but it was the straw that broke the camels back.  We rely heavily on our internet for our schooling and every moment it doesn't work means the kids can't work...causing tons of stress.
Anyhow, on to the second part of our journey to Wren...
 As many of you know, I wanted to adopt for what seems like forever.  It took years, and years of praying, discussing, research, informing (mostly me informing hubby about all things related to orphans), and downright begging on my part.
After my Dad passed away after a short battle with cancer, I was crying and angry.  Angry that I was living a regular, boring ole life.  I REALLY wanted to live a life that was more than a life lived for my own benefit.  Something about losing my Dad made both Martin and I see that life here on earth is in fact very, very short.  Long story short, we decided to adopt.

After arriving on Canadian soil with Malia, we vowed to NEVER, EVER go to China again!  It was a very overwhelming experience for these country bumpkins!  Needless to say, that didn't last long.  Two weeks later we looked at each other and said, "Let's do this again!"  A year and a half later Raina joined our family.  And Martin was done!  He felt our family was complete, that we had enough on our plate.  I wasn't so sure. There was something that kept nagging at me; telling me we had another child waiting for us. Two and a half years later, after much praying, talking, and begging; Jackson arrived to join our family.

Martin was DONE!!  He was 110% convinced that our family WAS complete!  No ifs, ands, or buts about it!

I still felt we had another child out there.  But this time I felt God telling me to be silent.  We still talked about adoption and many times Martin's big, soft heart was more than willing to adopt...but then reality hit.  And every time he came to the same conclusion...we were done!  Our family was complete!  When we did talk about adoption, Martin would always talk about an older child.  I felt that was ridiculous!  Who in their right mind would do that!?!  We knew the trauma that comes from adoption. We knew the struggles of bonding.  We knew a lot about all things related to adoption.  Adopting an older child was simply not on my list!

Having said all that, I really do need to backtrack a bit to some important details that happened over the years.  During the times that I was the one wanting to adopt and Martin was the reluctant one, I kept hearing God's voice tell me that I best be ready.  Ready for the day that Martin would be the one pushing for an adoption. Ready to go out of my comfort zone.

The other important detail is this...with each of our adoptions, God has graciously given me a word that either describes our child, or our situation at that time.

With our first adoption, I was terrified.  We had heard all the adoption horror stories and I worried that we were getting ourselves into a great big mess.  The word God gave me was "peace".  Not only did it help me to trust Him and have peace, but it also accurately describes Malia's presence in our family.  She has adjusted amazingly well and really exudes peace.

With Raina's adoption, the word was "joy".  Well, for anyone who  knows Raina, you know she is a pure delight!  Her entire adoption process took less than 9 months from first home study to arriving home.  It was a relatively smooth process from start to finish.

For our third adoption, we were wanting to adopt 2 boys.  The word I had was "defend".  It is a very fitting word to describe the entire adoption process and our family journey after that.  We have had to make some difficult decisions to defend our family.  It was also a time where our understanding of defending the cause of the orphan really took on new meaning.

The interesting thing is that I only had one word, not two.  I recall mentioning this whole word thing to a friend, and she made a comment that stuck with me.  She basically said something along the line of, "Well, it'll be interesting to see if God gives you 2 words".  I left her house and immediately knew what the word was.  It was "courage".  I knew it would take a lot of courage to bring home 2 boys at the same time, but somehow something just didn't feel right.  We had provincial approval, and even had our agency send a second proposal.   However, our province refused to allow us to proceed with the second proposal because in Canada we can not adopt 2 non related children at the same time.  To this day I have no idea why we were originally given approval.  Jackson came home and I wondered about the meaning of the word "courage".

Fast forward to May of 2015.  Martin and I travelled to BC for a Together for Adoption Conference.  It was a fantastic time of learning, connecting, and encouragement.  Martin was deeply touched by this conference.  Something changed in him.  God our Father reached down and took all those fears and reservations away. 

A few weeks later, with tears in his eyes, Martin came to me and said this, "God spoke to me.  We have another child waiting for us.  She's an older child".

What could I do?  I couldn't balk at his conviction.  I couldn't argue with what God had whispered to him.

 Long story short, we began the process again.  Our range of acceptance for this adoption was very different than ever before.  Never before had we been willing to adopt an older child with special needs such as CP or Spina Bifida. 

This should have terrified us.  We should have been shaking in our shoes.

But we didn't.  Instead we had an incredible peace.  And we still do!

You see folks, our precious Wren doesn't walk.  There is a good possibility that she will someday, but there's no guarantee.  We are preparing to welcome Wren with open arms even though at this point our home is not wheelchair accessible or even wheelchair friendly.  There is a very good chance that we will have to do some major renovations.  At this point we've decided to wait and see, before we start knocking down walls.  And if we have to sell and find a more wheelchair accessible house, we are willing to do that!

We have an incredible peace that passes our human understanding, and somehow in it all, God has given us a courage that leaves us shaking our heads, wondering how in the world we could possibly have the courage to adopt an 11 year old with CP!

This "courage" isn't a courage that comes from our own resilience or strength.  No, it's a courage that comes from our all powerful God who never wavers or falters at any difficult thing!  We are incredibly grateful for a God that loves us like this!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Our Journey to Wren-Part I

Before I begin telling about our journey to Wren, I'd like to ask for prayer.  There is a possibility that we will be able to travel to China in mid November.  In order for this to happen many, many things need to fall into place.  In the past 5 days, we have frantically gathered the documents we need and as of this morning they are headed to Regina and then to our agency.  Whew!  The item of most concern is completing Part 1 of our immigration application.  Immigration has all the documents they need.  It's simply a matter of them getting to our application.  They are currently running behind on their work load.  Yesterday we contacted a local MP, who was absolutely wonderful and helpful.  However, there is only so much he can do.  He has contacted immigration, but it can take up to 10 days for him to hear back from them.  Please pray that immigration gets to our paperwork sooner than that, and that it gets completed within a few days.
We know this is ALL in God's hands and that ultimately He WILL work all things out for good.  Our biggest concern is that Wren has spent the better part of her 11 years in an orphanage, without a family...and that's far too long!  We REALLY want her home ASAP!  Not only for us (cause we can't wait to have her home), but mostly for Wren.  We're hoping she can be home for her very first Christmas with us...her forever family!
And now, on to our journey to Wren.....

Our story to Wren begins a long time ago.  It goes back to the days of my early childhood, to when I was a little girl of 6-11 years old.  The story is fairly long, so I've decided to divide it up into several parts.
I grew up in a large family.  Not large as in what we think of large now a days...5+ kids.  Large as in HUGE!  I was the 9th child in a family of 13. 
One of my earliest memories is of my little sister Helen's birth.  I don't recall the actual day, but I remember bits and pieces of the days that followed.  I remember standing on my tippy toes, leaning against the doors to the ICU (at least I think that's what they were), to catch my first glimpse of my baby sister Helen.  I knew something wasn't as it should be, but I don't recall being very concerned.  From what I could see, she seemed pretty normal to me.  Other than the shaved hair on either side of her head, she looked completely healthy, with chubby cheeks and legs.


I remember a group of church ladies bringing a massive box of baked goods, cause they knew my Mom needed help.  I remember the box being almost as big as me, and drooling over all the goodies.
As the months and years ticked by, it became more evident that there was in fact something seriously "wrong" with Helen.  As she grew, she became thinner and her body became more rigid.  I soon learned to understand the word Cerebral Palsy.

What I didn't understand was the idea that something was "wrong" with my sister.  To me she seemed just perfect!  Sure she had to wear an oxygen mask several times a day, had to go through many exercises each day, had to be fed through a GI tube, could only swallow small portions of mushy food, couldn't talk, and couldn't walk.  But what she could do was smile...and communicate.  Somehow we managed to figure out what different expressions and spastic body movements meant.
I remember playing and daydreaming of someday having my own little girl just like Helen.  I remember wishing and praying I could be blessed with a sweet child with CP.
I remember playing with her, although not as wonderfully as my little sister Kathy.  She was seriously the "Helen whisperer".  There were far too many days that I grumbled about having to play with Helen, and there came a day that I regretted every single grumble!
I don't recall everything about that day.  I was only 11.  What I do remember was that it was a fall day, and for some reason I was holding Helen when she began to cry and in that crying she quit breathing.  I quickly handed her over to an older sister.  Parents were called. Family gathered round.  CPR began.  An ambulance was called.  The paramedics rushed in.  One paramedic thought he had found a pulse; and with that Helen was quickly rushed to the hospital. 
Helen was not resuscitated.  She passed away that day.
I grieved hard and long. 
But I also remember having an incredible joy and peace in knowing that our prayers for Helen; to be able to walk, run, and jump, had been answered!  I knew she was doing just that, as Jesus smiled down at her.  I could see her gorgeous smile, and that gave me peace.
I also remember being very angry.  Not angry that Helen had passed away.  But angry at the response from well meaning adults.
Many, many times I overheard the words, "It's for the best." or "She's better off now".
I remember thinking these adults were pretty stupid!  After all, if you believe in life after death, and you love Jesus...who wouldn't be better off dead and in heaven!!??!!
I remember crying myself to sleep, dreaming of  having my own little girl with CP.
Years later, as an adult, I realized that was a very silly dream to have.  After all, who in their right mind would wish to have a child with a disability?
Well, it turns out that God, in all His amazing wisdom and goodness, knew that someday my heart would need to be soft and open to this exact special need...Cerebral Palsy.  He knew that placing Helen into my family, into my life would do just that!
As you know, I am an advocate for orphan care, adoption, foster care, and anything related to caring for the less fortunate.  Sometimes it's difficult to not get frustrated in advocating.  So many people seem to be indifferent to the horrible conditions many kids live in.  Well, one day, as I was having a personal rant in my head, God quietly whispered.  He whispered this..."What are YOU doing for kids like your sister Helen?"  Long story short...I stopped looking at the shortcomings of others and began to look at myself!
And so began the slow, but gradual openness to once again wanting a child with a "disability".  Martin and I began talking about possibly adopting a child with CP, Spina Bifida, or something similar.  When we began this adoption process, it was without hesitation that we included the above special needs in our portfolio.
You see, a "disability" is only scary until you know the person with the "disability".
Cause when you love, you love the person and the "disability" is simply not that scary!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Our Newest Family Member!


It's Thanksgiving Day here in Canada and I can't think of a better day to make our big announcement!
Yes, we have a big announcement! 
We are adopting again!
From China!
I'm honestly a bit terrified and completely excited as we begin a journey that is mostly new to us. Yes, we've adopted from China before, but this time around it's a whole new ball game!

I won't share the entire story today.  Rather, I'd like to focus on introducing our newest DAUGHTER!!
Her name is Wren (Yuan is the Chinese spelling).  She turned 11 years old this past August.  She is stunningly gorgeous!  And we're head over heals in love with her already!  Wren has Cerebral Palsy; but her biggest need right now is to be home with her family!

We are working hard to bring her home asap!  Eleven years without a forever family is long enough!  We would sure appreciate your prayers...prayers for everything to fall into place quickly, that we can travel sooner rather than later, but mostly for our precious Wren...that she would be protected, loved, and at peace with the reality of leaving behind everything she has ever known.   

I know some of you are concerned that we are biting off more than we can chew.  You know how very sick I was last fall. You know that our life is very crazy, and busy.  And a few of you know our shortcomings and our weaknesses.  We have taken ALL of these things into account in making this decision...and have concluded that it is more important to listen to the ONE who calms the seas and turns the universe, than to look at all the reasons to say no!  Our story to Wren is truly amazing!  It is a story that only God himself could have written!
And yes, I will be sharing more of that story soon!  It's so incredible it actually sends shivers up my spine!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Girl's Day Out...And Surgery News

It's been a very long time since I last posted.  Our summer was very busy with very little time to relax.  We are all doing relatively well...all things considered.  It seems our stress level keeps rising...lots of emotional stuff happening here!
We started school at the beginning of September in hopes to get enough work done so that once surgeries start for Malia, we can take time off without falling behind.  Yesterday Malia had 2 appointments; so after her piano and voice lessons, the girls and I headed to town for a fancy girl date. 
I have to tell a funny story...while waiting for Malia, I chatted with Martin with my phone speaker on.  As a joke he mentioned that the guys were going to have his specialty for lunch...mac n' cheese!  Well, wouldn't you know it, Raina began begging to go home for lunch!!  What a girl!!
Anyhow, I managed to convince her that we should head to a fancy place in town.  The girls ordered their own food and even got pop, which rarely happens in this household!
Then they got these super cool desserts!  They simply couldn't get enough of these volcanos!

Then we headed to the first appointment with Malia's "hard tissue" oral surgeon.  We love Dr. Humber!  He is seriously one of the most personable, compassionate and understanding doctors I've ever met!  He was the man that gave me the confidence to say "no" to summer surgeries for Malia.  She really did need some time off to just be a carefree little girl!
After our first appointment, we made a quick stop at Starbucks!  It was such a huge treat for my girls!  The simply glowed!  And I'm pretty sure they felt like complete grown ups!

Our second appointment was with the "soft tissue" oral surgeon.  This surgeon is new to town, coming here from Edmonton.  He also seems to be very personable, doing his very best to put Malia at ease. 
As you know, Malia has already had 2 surgeries to close a rather large fistula in the roof of her mouth. (She actually has 2 fistulas, but the one is small enough that the surgeons are confident they can close it during the bone graft surgery).  The 2 previous surgeries were both FAMM Flaps.  Apparently, a FAMM Flap is a bit like taking a hose, kinking it at a 90 degree angle and hoping the water will still flow through.  So if you can, picture a blood vessel instead of the hose, with blood trying to flow through to ensure a good graft...and you'll understand why the FAMM Flap didn't work for Malia.  So, instead of attempting the FAMM Flap again, the idea is to go back to the original idea of doing a Tongue Flap.  The Tongue Flap is more invasive and will be more difficult for Malia to deal with as she will have a very difficult time talking. 
I'm very grateful to be moving on with surgeries, to get this part over and done with.  However, there is only a 50% chance that a Tongue Flap will actually be successful.  This mama's heart almost broke at that news!  I swallowed long and hard, and tried to tell myself there IS a 50% chance that the Tongue Flap WILL be successful!  So we will pray!  And we'd love to have all of you praying too!
After hearing this news, I knew I needed a distraction and needed to create some more beautiful memories with my sweet girls.  So we headed across the street to our cities beautiful Meewasin Trail and enjoyed the wonderful fall leaves and the fantastic fresh air...and a bunch of giggles and hugs!

On our way back to the vehicle, this little girl figured her feet were too sore to walk.  I ended up giving her a piggyback ride....

...while this sweet girl carried my bag!

The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.
Psalm 18:2