Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Spring Festival

Ellie really got into it this year...

I'm late in posting about this, but we had a wonderful celebration this year for Spring Festival, or Chinese new Year.  We met our good friends in Chinatown, Philadephia, at a Dim Sum restaurant.  Our friends have a 12 year old daughter adopted from China.  It is so nice for our kids to have other friends who are Chinese and who share in the adoption experience.  (It's also so nice for me to have another adoptive mommy friend -- one who I know in 'real life,' rather than in my bloggy world!

I hate to admit that this was the first time we have tried Dim Sum.  I suppose because of our kids' love of noodles (Nicholas' very favorite) we always go to noodle houses when we go to Chinatown.  But the Dim Sum was so fun.  We felt like we were back in China; all the hustle and bustle, very crowded, bordering on chaos.  One after another, waitresses approached our table with carts carrying little plates of food (Dim Sum means "little bites").  No one seemed to speak English, so we were not sure what we were eating, but it was all so good.

The boys.

After lunch, we followed the sound of the firecrackers until we came upon the parade.  There was drumming and a gong, and, of course, the lion dancers (my favorite part).

Long rows of firecrackers were being set off  -- a tradition that is supposed to scare away bad luck for the coming year.  It was so loud.  My poor boy with sensory issues was not enjoying it.

(Above, you can see Olivia covering her ears).

I feel so lucky to be near a community of Chinese immigrants, ones that can bring just the smallest bit of our kids' native culture to them.  And to us.  I am woefully unprepared to share their culture with them -- it would be so artificial even if I tried -- so I try to just give them glimpses.

 Nicholas really hated both Chinese schools I enrolled him in (trying to keep up his Mandarin).  I have such mixed feelings about that --  I don't want him to feel not "Chinese" enough one day because he doesn't get cultural references or speak the language, but, at the same time, I believe culture is so organic  -- to take bits and pieces and thrust it upon his otherwise-American life just seems phony.  I know a few Chinese-Americans who do not know Mandarin or Cantonese and who are more American than Chinese now, and, I suppose, so are my kids.

It's kind of ironic that we do not attend Greek festivals (or English ones) like these.  I have asked John to take the lead in all things Greek, but he is not that interested or motivated to make the effort.  I tell myself that we naturally get enough Greek and English stuff through hanging with the grandparents and through our family traditions, etc.  I guess we make an extra effort with Chinese things because it would be so easy to completely leave that stuff out of our family life, since it is not part of our (mine and John's) heritage.

Plus, we are interested in all things Chinese.  As much as people criticize China and its government, it is the birthplace of my children, and the government graciously allowed us to adopt them.  A gift, a wonderful gift for which I will always be grateful.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Joy Comes with the Morning

"Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning." - Psalm 30

I spent last week feeling really sad.  Our contact in China found out that Elijah's orphanage has a on-to-one relationship with an agency in Italy.  His file will be sent there and is therefore not available to an American family.  I can't explain why this was such a surprise to me.  I knew intellectually that the chances of us being matched with Elijah were slim.  In fact, I said that to anyone who was so kind as to ask about our adoption.  But, I "knew" that he was meant to be ours.  I really and truly felt that Elijah was our son, in a way that is not logical or intellectual in the least.  

There is a chance that Elijah will not be matched by his Italian agency:  he is already 6 and just that fact alone limits the number of families that will be interested in his file.  If his file is not matched in Italy, it will be put back on the Shared List and we would have a chance to adopt him.  But, I find it hard to believe that he won't find a family.  He is so darn cute! He has "file appeal." (In fact, he is so handsome that John and I can really picture him in Rome or Milan, decked out in fine leather and an Italian button down shirt!) 

I really pray that Elijah does get matched in Italy, despite my own desire to raise him myself.  His file has sat for so long in China.  I hate the thought of it sitting longer in Italy, only to come back to the Shared List.  We have been waiting for him for years (I first saw his picture when he was 3!) and it just seems to sad his file would have to stay in this holding pattern for any longer.

John and I went out to dinner on Thursday night -- a rare treat for us.  We talked about what we want to do next.  We have one dossier finished, and a second in the making.  We just met with our social worker to update our home study to allow us to bring home 2 children.  As I have said before, we were not hoping to bring home 2 children at once (although, you know I would!) but instead keep one dossier around just in case Elijah became available, and use one dossier to bring home a waiting child's file that is already available.

John and I decided that we should go ahead and use our dossier to bring home another child now.  In the slim chance that Elijah's file does become available, it will take a while -- hopefully by then our second dossier will be done.  

I was happy to see that John was really thrilled about the thought of adopting another child.  It is nice to be totally together on this.  Although John eventually became excited about adopting Elijah, I was definitely driving that bus.  

We remembered out last adoption (Ellie's) and how once we got our LID (log-in date) our agency had us wait for 18 months until we were matched, by them, for Ellie.  Our previous agency is a big one, and had a lot of families waiting for a young girl with the needs we specified.  We expected to wait another 18 months or so for a child this time -- perhaps less since we are happy to adopt a boy, the waiting time for boys in most adoption circumstances is much shorter.  

I felt frustrated and weepy at dinner thinking of waiting that long to bring a child home.  I am so ready now.  The kids are so ready -- they have been waiting for Elijah for a long time (they knew it was never a sure thing) and cannot wait to have another brother or sister to join "Tiger Academy," our goofy homeschool name.  And now, John is ready, too.  We are all on the same page, and it felt maddening to be stuck in pause.

But, when I called our agency the next day, I got some wonderful news!  Our agency can match us ASAP!  It is a much smaller agency:  they only have 6 families who are waiting, and they are waiting for baby girls.  Also, our agency matches from the Shared List (something our previous agency rarely did) and that very list is coming out tonight!  There is a possibility that our son might be matched with us this week!

I have learned a lot lately about not letting my Grand Plan take over.  I had written, directed, and practically acted out the whole play of how Elijah's adoption should go.  I feel like I got a much-needed nudge from God, letting me know that He is writing our life stories, not me.  I needed that.  It hurts, but I needed it.   

I will not try to push my ideals onto this adoption.  Perhaps our son is not going to be available for a while.  Perhaps we need to wait, for reasons that I do not need to know.  I will try to be patient and use the waiting period and a chance to grow closer to God.  To learn to trust.  To learn to be lead by both my husband and my Lord.

Letting go, not taking over, is not easy for me.  But I am finding joy in this surrender.  

I continue to pray for Elijah. That his heart is protected as he waits in orphan care.  That he finds a wonderful family sooner rather than later.  

And I pray that we trust God to lead us to the son he has meant for us all along.

"Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy." - Psalm 126

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Some days

…are harder than others.

It turns out that Elijah's file IS at the CC@@, but it is not available for the Shared List (the place where our agency could find it).  Apparently, his orphanage has a one-to-one relationship with another agency.  This means that this agency gets all of the files from the orphanage, and will be able to match them with their families.  Elijah's file will most likely be matched with another family.

We do not know which agency has this one-on-one relationship.  If we did, we could ask this agency to transfer this file to our agency.  It might not happen, but we could try.  Nicholas' file was actually originally listed with an agency that was not our own.  This agency graciously transferred the file (for a not-so-small fee) to ours so that we could adopt him promptly.

I spent the last few days emailing every US agency that works with China.  Most of these agencies emailed me back that they do not work with Elijah's orphanage.  I also posted on most online adoption bulletins and message boards.  Nothing.

I am wondering now if he is listed with a non-US agency.

Our agency has posted on a board that all agencies see, to see if they can find out that way.

I feel discouraged today.  And a little humbled.  So much reading I am doing points to the fact that we try to implement our own plans and then ask God to fulfill them, rather than waiting on God and following his plans.  I admit, Elijah has been my plan from the beginning.  And I thrust this plan, this desire of my heart, onto John and into my prayers.  It is hard to let go of my old secular humanistic "I can make anything happen" ideology.  It is so hard for me to let go and to release my dreams of what my life should look like.  Of what I think should happen in the world, with the orphan-crisis, etc.

When I read of "dying to self," this must be what it looks like.  Saying, "okay, God, I turn it over to you."  My life is not mine for the making, it is yours -- always has been and always will.  Help me to let go where I need to let go, and to see your will when it is laid out before me.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Catch up and some local art

I have been a bad blogger lately.  And a bad friend, and perhaps a bad wife.   It is so easy to get sucked into the "homeschool vortex" and forget about the rest of the world.  Or, not quite forget, but put off.  I keep thinking "Oh, I should call so-and-so, I'll do it after we get through this math lesson…" And then one distraction comes after another, and I get behind.

On top of the homeschooling, we just threw a bridal shower for my sister-in-law.  I love Nickie and it has been such a joy to be a part of her wedding preparation (only as an eager observer, but still…)  Nickie is such a special auntie, or theia (in Greek), to my kids.  Oh, how they love her.

Here, we put a mock veil on Nickie at the shower before opening gifts.

We've been getting a little restless and, dare I say, bored, lately doing our usual school routine.  So, yesterday, I just spontaneously decided we were going on a Chinese New Year field trip.  No, not out to a Chinese restaurant (although that crossed my mind !) One of my favorite contemporary artists, Ai Wei Wei, has an exhibit set up outside of one of the University's buildings.  It just happens to be of the Chinese zodiac sign.  I really wanted to take the kids to see it before the exhibit is returned, so what better time than now, during Spring Festival (the two weeks of New Year celebration)?

We all posed with our zodiac signs:  my monkey, rooster, pig and ox.

And I am a tiger (but not a Tiger Mom!):

Then we took pictures of the Rabbit for Daddy, and the Dog for Elijah:

Here they all are.  Magnificent.  I wonder what Ai Wei Wei was saying through these heads?  A lot of his artwork uses traditional Chinese artwork to criticize or call question to his government.  

Happy New Year!  The Year of the Snake!