Author Archives: Nicole

Wayland {China Trip – Advocating}

I’d like to introduce you to a precious 7 year old boy.  His name is Wayland, and he’s amazing.  He delights in simple pleasures and always has a smile on his face.  He is joyful, friendly, affectionate, thoughtful, social, tender, and incredibly patient.  And he’s waiting for his family to find him.

I had the immense pleasure of meeting sweet Wayland.  He had such a positive attitude and a palpable zeal for life.  He smiled and laughed and looked into my eyes warmly.  He sought me out and called me ayi without prompting.  He affectionately hugged me and sweetly laid his head on my shoulder.  He talked to me during our time together, despite my limited understanding of Mandarin.  That didn’t hold him back though.  He taught me new words while patiently repeating each syllable over until I got it right.  Such a smart boy and a terrific teacher!  When he wanted something, he used words to ask respectfully, but accepted no when I couldn’t say yes.  He asked me to pick him up so he could get a better look at new sights, and he was curious about everything that he saw.  Handsome Wayland was a complete gentleman during our time together.

His repaired congenital heart defect does not hold him back – he is energetic and runs everywhere!  He has way more energy than I do!  He can dress and feed himself, use the bathroom alone, and understand directions.  He also sometimes helps the nannies with chores.  He goes to school at the orphanage, and is taught by a wonderful teacher who really cares for the children.  He is working on typical age-appropriate skills, and can speak in complete sentences.  He can sing preschool songs and loves to join in with games.  He appears to be at age-level for most skills.  He seems well-attached to his nannies and loves being social with the other children in the orphanage.

Sweet Wayland needs a family!  I truly feel that whoever has the privilege of becoming his family will be incredibly blessed.  He is a precious boy, but needs the title of son!  He is designated Special Focus and is currently with Madison Adoption Associates.  They have video and more pictures to review.  Also, up to $2000 in grants are available for his adoption fees!  Please, if you are at all nudged to find out more about Wayland, email Sarah Hansen at Sarah@MadisonAdoption.org.

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NicoleNicole is a daughter to the King and a wife to an amazing man. She is a classical homeschooling mama to four, by birth and adoption. She is a part-time newborn photographer, a founder and adoption photographer at Red Thread Sessions, a contributing blogger at No Hands But Ours and an advocate of orphan care and adoption. When she’s not with her family or behind her camera, she loves to blog, create, give life to old furniture, spend time at the beach and read. She strives to live her life to glorify our Heavenly Father.  With His love, all things are possible.

In My Heart Forever {China Trip}

I’m home.  And I’ve been awake since 3am thanks to jet lag.  I gave up trying to fall back to sleep at 4:30am, and finally got out of bed.  With the children from the orphanage taking over my dreams, and their precious little faces dancing across my closed eyelids, I knew it was a lost cause.  While everyone else on this side of the world rests, I am wrestling with what I experienced and captured through my camera this past week.

Thinking of the children and the reality of their daily lives brings me to my knees.  While I can drink coffee without boiling water first, and write a blog post without a sometimes-working, buggy VPN, the children are most likely finishing up dinner halfway across the world.  While I will soon hug and kiss my beloved little ones good morning, and tell them how much I love them, the children will prepare for bedtime with no mama and baba to tuck them in and tell them how much they are adored and so very worthy.  While they sleep, my day will carry on in the peace and warm serenity of my home and church, surrounded by my treasured family and friends.  And some variation of my comfortable life will play out every day while the children in the orphanage remain inexplicably grateful and joyful and happy, despite all that they’re missing.

The incredible disparity of our worlds is almost too much to fathom.

I was invited into a community of His people that I didn’t know before.  A community that’s real, even though it’s easy to ignore because it seems so distant and far away.  A small community of His children who are hurting and longing for mamas and babas of their very own.  A community of His nannies who give their very best every day to help the children live and grow.  But even their very best simply isn’t enough because there are too many children and not enough of them.  Because nothing replaces the love and belonging of a family.

I think of precious Wayland and the way the Father literally put him in front of me, despite my ability to remain emotionally unattached behind my lens.  My job as photographer makes it easy to observe from a distance.  It’s a role that I’m comfortable playing because it allows me to stay focused and complete the task at hand.  It’s the role that I signed up for when I said yes to this trip – to document our time and bring home pictures of waiting children to help them find families.

Though I wanted to be open to what the Father had waiting for me during this trip, I did not expect to fall as hard as I did.  He wrecked me.  Not just for Wayland, but for all of the children.  For the nannies.  Although I was the designated photographer on the trip, the Father used the short time in mighty ways to show me why I was really on that trip.  Despite myself, I got to see a small glimpse of His love for all of His children.  To understand what’s truly important.  Not medical diagnoses or adoption files or questioning whether a nanny is feeding children the right way.

But people.  Loving people is what’s important.  No matter their status or special need.  Orphan, nanny, or otherwise.  That’s what He wanted me to see.  Because the Father wants all of us to be adopted as His sons and daughters.  And He’ll use anyone to accomplish His mission, if we just humbly offer ourselves to be available.

As Mike Foster wrote in his book, People of the Second Chance, “Bring what you have, no matter what it looks like.  His standards are embarrassingly low, and he will work with everything you’re willing to put into his hands.  You are imperfect, but you can be perfectly loved and perfectly used by him.” (pg. 30)  I’m resting in that truth this morning.  As I reflect on this past week and try my hardest to make good on my promise to Wayland, my prayer is that He perfectly loves and uses me and all of my team members, despite our imperfectness.

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NicoleNicole is a daughter to the King and a wife to an amazing man. She is a classical homeschooling mama to four, by birth and adoption. She is a part-time newborn photographer, a founder and adoption photographer at Red Thread Sessions, a contributing blogger at No Hands But Ours and an advocate of orphan care and adoption. When she’s not with her family or behind her camera, she loves to blog, create, give life to old furniture, spend time at the beach and read. She strives to live her life to glorify our Heavenly Father.  With His love, all things are possible.

We Were. We Are. He Is.

us(pp_w343_h428)A couple of weekends ago, DH and I gathered with 100 other adoptive, foster, and pre-adoptive couples for our 4th annual Together Called marriage retreat.  It is always a time we anticipate greatly. To say that this year was our favorite is an understatement.  We were so blessed to be a small part of the event.  We met so many new friends and were incredibly honored to hear their stories.  We hugged old friends who we hadn’t seen in a long time.  We learned together.  We worshiped together.  We prayed together.  We shared meals together.  We openly discussed our struggles in a safe environment. We were unmasked and vulnerable together.  We drank coffee by the fire.  We spent time in fellowship and laughed until we cried. Sometimes we just cried.  We enjoyed the beautiful views.  We even watch snow fall.  In April.

We were urged by our speakers to have open discussions with our spouse throughout the weekend – to share favorite memories, reminisce about where we’ve come from, reflect on where we are, and dream about where we might go.  We were inspired to complete our “We were … We are … He is …” statements.

Most of all though, we were reminded that through this crazy journey of life, we are enough because HE is enough.  That can sometimes be difficult to remember in the midst of folding laundry and cooking meals and making beds.  Helping children through trauma and tantrums and bad choices, as adoptive and foster parents often do, can make anyone weary.  And feeling the shame of not measuring up to whatever standard we use, can be utterly crippling.  But this weekend brought encouragement and hope to press on. To keep running the race set before us, looking to Jesus.  We truly are enough, because He is enough.

Many couples have commented about the refreshment, restoration, and connection that this weekend has offered them. I’m so thankful for that. Because that’s what this work is all about.  DH and I were humbled to serve with a remarkable team who tirelessly worked to make this time together simply unforgettable and hope-filled.  Seeing the Father work through so many families was truly inspiring.  We are already counting down the days until next year’s retreat!  Mark your calendars for March 31-April 2, 2017!  We’re back at Bear Creek in Macungie, PA, and would be absolutely delighted to see you there!

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NicoleNicole is a daughter to the King and a wife to an amazing man. She is a classical homeschooling mama to four, by birth and adoption. She is a part-time newborn photographer, a founder and adoption photographer at Red Thread Sessions, a contributing blogger at No Hands But Ours and an advocate of orphan care and adoption. When she’s not with her family or behind her camera, she loves to blog, create, give life to old furniture, spend time at the beach and read. She strives to live her life to glorify our Heavenly Father.  With His love, all things are possible.

Beauty in the Chaos

Sometimes I have to search to find beauty in the chaos that can sometimes describe my life.  Although we’ve found a new normal through this last year of major transitions, I sometimes feel like I’m in survival mode while trying to do life.  I know beautiful moments pass by unnoticed because I’m too busy to see them.  Or because I see them as interruptions, instead of invitations to slow down.  There are precious moments every day.  But when I allow myself to get caught up in the busyness and survival, these sweet moments aren’t seen.  With an overflowing plate, it’s easy.  Easy to focus on the never-ending to-do list.

The three loads of laundry that need to be folded.

The toilet bowls with rings in them.

The unfinished school work.

The homeschool planning that still needs to be done.

The toys always scattered about.

The dinner that’s rarely prepared in advance.

The walls that need painting in our new home.

Or the guilt about the extra screen time the children get while I’m simply trying to catch my breath.

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Sometimes though, I glimpse the beautiful.  The simple fleeting moments that don”t last long, the ones I miss if I’m not looking.  The ones that remind me to live more in the moment.  To allow the interruptions to slow me down.  To simply be still.  To take in the beauty around me, especially amid the chaos.  And to rest in knowing that He has me exactly where I’m supposed to be.

He says,“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:10

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NicoleNicole is a daughter to the King and a wife to an amazing man. She is a classical homeschooling mama to four, by birth and adoption. She is a part-time newborn photographer, a founder and adoption photographer at Red Thread Sessions, a contributing blogger at No Hands But Ours and an advocate of orphan care and adoption. When she’s not with her family or behind her camera, she loves to blog, create, give life to old furniture, spend time at the beach and read. She strives to live her life to glorify our Heavenly Father.  With His love, all things are possible.

One Year.

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November 24, 2014

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Waiting behind the curtains.

I can hardly believe it was one year ago today that we met this sweet, precious boy for the first time. We walked into an eerily quiet Guangzhou civil affairs office and peered through the infamous curtains. The curtains that separate all families from their new children until it is “time.” The curtains my son sat behind, waiting for his future to begin. The anticipation in the room was palpable as more waiting adoptive families shuffled in and the noise steadily grew. After all of the paperwork was signed and it was “time,” I finally held him in my arms and knew instantly that he was my son. The unconditional love I felt for him was overwhelming. All of the waiting and heartache melted away as our new life together officially began. The escalating chaos and noise of the civil affairs office went unnoticed as we became a family of 6 that day. My other children attempted desperately to catch his attention, to see even a glimpse of a smile, while hubby held the camera ready to snap. Snacks, drinks, and toys were placed in his lap to divert his welling tears. I tried to shield him from everything else that was going on around us because I knew he was overstimulated and unsure. But everyone was elated to simply be in his presence after waiting for so long. I gaze at this picture of me holding him … the one that I asked hubby to shoot on my iPhone so I could tell the world he was finally ours … and I feel all of the emotions come flooding back. The feelings of joyfulness, thankfulness, concern, love, fear, protection, confusion, trauma, and more. I see a scared, apprehensive little boy who had no idea what was happening to him. I see sadness and brokenness in his precious eyes. I see hurt in his face that no one should have to experience. I see an amount of bravery and strength that is overwhelming.

I also see the beautiful story of redemption unfolding in his little life. I see a child who is loved deeply by his family and by his Abba Father. A child who is fought for. A child who is fearfully and wonderfully made. A child who was knit into our family through divine intervention. A child who has difficult past experiences that are part of his story, but don’t define him. A child who has hope. A child who is worth it all.

Over the past year, we have watched our precious son and brother come alive. He’s blossomed from a quiet, shy boy into a loud, fun-loving, needs-to-be-in-the-mix, joyful, sometimes bossy, silly, loving son who happily gives and receives affection. He has learned that his mommy and daddy will meet his needs. He has gained 7 pounds and grown almost 4 inches this past year. He has learned how to draw, how to put puzzles together, how to use simple words to communicate, how to pretend play, how to rough house, and how to laugh so contagiously that you can’t help but laugh with him. He has won the love and attention of his siblings. He has learned how to take things apart so he can figure out how they work. He is learning the ABC song and will impress anyone with his Itsy Bitsy Spider hand illustration skills. He has learned so much in his short time with us, and we have too.

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November 24, 2015

We have learned to love more, give more of ourselves, and forgive more. We have learned to be more patient, although I’m still a work-in-progress on that one. We have learned more about ourselves as we’ve grown and stretched. We’ve been reminded that we aren’t in control, but we know Who is as we learn to let go. We’ve been reminded that when we mess up, we are forgiven by the One True God. We’ve remembered over and over again what God’s grace means, as we stumble through trying to share it with each other. We’ve felt His unconditional love repeatedly. Through adoption, we’ve learned, grown, stretched, shown grace, forgiven, and loved together. We’ve been reminded what our Abba Father’s adoption of us means, as we try to grasp our eternal inheritance in heaven. And we’ve seen a small glimpse of His remarkable redemption of us.

“God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” Galatians 4:5-6

Happy Family Day precious son. You are so very loved!

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NicoleNicole is a daughter to the King and a wife to an amazing man. She is a classical homeschooling mama to four, by birth and adoption. She is a part-time newborn photographer, a founder and adoption photographer at Red Thread Sessions, a contributing blogger at No Hands But Ours and an advocate of orphan care and adoption. When she’s not with her family or behind her camera, she loves to blog, create, give life to old furniture, spend time at the beach and read. She strives to live her life to glorify our Heavenly Father.  With His love, all things are possible.

Milestones

We hit a big milestone in our house last month. After being home for over 9 months, Dumpling slept in his very own big boy bed in his very own room shared with Gēgē! This was huge! Before now, he had been sleeping on a toddler bed in our bedroom to foster attachment. It worked well for us because we were able to keep him close, but we still got to sleep as husband and wife. I know many families co-sleep, which I think is a wonderful choice. But I personally like my bed to be my bed, so a toddler bed was a perfect alternative.

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We started with the toddler bed pushed up against my side so that we could hold hands as he fell asleep. Once he was asleep, I’d gently pull my hand away and tiptoe out to spend a little time with my hubby before going to bed myself. A white noise machine helped too. I still came back to bed pretty early in the beginning though, so Dumpling could reach up and touch me for reassurance if he woke up.

After a few months, we let go a little and moved the toddler bed across the room so he could still see us. This gave us some freedom, but still kept him close for attachment purposes. If he woke up, he looked to make sure we were still there, and then he went back to sleep. Once he started saying our names, he’d sometimes call out for us too. I remember thinking about how precious that sound was the first few times I heard it.

Toward the end of the summer, we began staying with him until he was almost asleep. This eventually worked up to a more typical bedtime, when we said goodnight right after all the rituals had been completed and he was still awake. It was a very natural progression and his laid back personality made for few sleeping issues. I know sleeping can bring huge anxiety for many children from hard places, but fortunately Dumpling hasn’t been one of those children.

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It wasn’t always easy having him in our room though, especially on the mornings we wanted to sleep a little extra and he woke up at 4am. Or another child came into our room for some reason, and accidentally woke Dumpling up too. But overall, it went very well and I wouldn’t do anything different. I am so thankful we were able to spend that time sharing a room with our son. Especially because of his difficult past, we were very intentional about cocooning him from the world and other adults. Sleeping in the same room was one more way we could foster attachment and bring him closer to us.

But when the time came for him to become a little more independent and move into his very own big boy bed in a room shared with Gēgē, our whole family celebrated and his eyes beamed with utter joy. He pointed to all of his blankets and pillows and loveys with pride, asking, “Mine?” for each one. The answer of “yes” every time made him smile even bigger. He took ownership of his new bed immediately and loved every moment. It was a precious sight indeed.

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I will admit that I don’t think he needed to sleep in our room for so long, as children sometimes do. I think he would have been fine if we had put him in his big boy bed the first night we were home. Obviously I can’t be sure, but his easy-going personality suggests this may have been the case. Regardless of how he would have done though, we wanted to foster attachment in any way we could. It’s difficult to teach who mom and dad are with very little verbal communication, so it had to come in the form of actions instead of words. That also meant not allowing any physical touch with all adults for a long time, in addition to keeping him close at home.

Although he is gaining independence and we’ve opened up his world when appropriate, we still keep some experiences and new adults at a safe distance, even at 10 months home. He likes new people and affection a little too much still, so we are working intentionally about teaching appropriate physical boundaries. I don’t know how long that will continue, but I do know that cocooning and intentionally limiting him has paid off in huge ways. He loves us as his mommy, daddy, jiějiě, gēgē, and jiějiě. And we sure love him to the moon and back. I am so incredibly thankful that God chose me to be this boy’s mama. It’s a true joy to watch him grow into the person that his Heavenly Father intends him to be.

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NicoleNicole is a daughter to the King and a wife to an amazing man. She is a classical homeschooling mama to four, by birth and adoption. She is a part-time newborn photographer, a founder and adoption photographer at Red Thread Sessions, a contributing blogger at No Hands But Ours and an advocate of orphan care and adoption. When she’s not with her family or behind her camera, she loves to blog, create, give life to old furniture, spend time at the beach and read. She strives to live her life to glorify our Heavenly Father.  With His love, all things are possible.

                                         

6 Months

I’ve experienced a lot of difficult things over the last several months.  The most difficult of my life.  My Daddy’s passing weighs heavy on me every day still, 5 months later.  So much pain and loss.  So much heartbreak.

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But this boy.  This precious boy who we said yes to and who is our son.  He has redeemed a lot of the hardships.  I will admit that the days aren’t always easy.  We aren’t living a fairytale.  But my goodness, he is special.  My heart bursts with love for him.  He is lovely and joyful and funny and goofy and stubborn and even a little bossy sometimes.  He absolutely loves life and delights in everything.  He gives me hugs and kisses all day long.  He says “I yaaaa yew” more times than I can count in a day.  He smiles.  He laughs.  He plays.  He is learning to communicate his needs.  He is learning that we will always come for him.  He is learning his place in our family.  He is learning how to love and how to be loved.  He has grown in unbelievable ways.

As I rocked him to sleep tonight, I just stared at him.  I ran my fingers over his forehead, through his hair, and over the outside of his ear as he drifted off to sleep.  I watched his sweet little eyelashes bat up and down until they eventually stopped moving.  He laid asleep in my lap as I reflected on the little person he is becoming, simply in awe of all that the Father has done in this boy’s life.

He’s been in our arms for 6 months.

Six months.  It hardly seems real.

In that Guangzhou Civil Affairs office, our lives changed forever six months ago.  I fell in love the minute I laid eyes on him.  He instantly became a son and brother; an orphan no longer.  I became a mama for the fourth time.  My husband became a new daddy all over again.  And our older three children gained a new brother.

We are forever bonded together as a family.  And with that bond, my prayer is that his many losses will be redeemed.  Not forgotten.  But redeemed.  He experienced so much heartache in his three years.  But in the short 6 months he’s been our son, he has already given us so much.  I hope that we can give the same to him.  Life is a little more complicated, but oh so much sweeter.  The days feel a little longer, but they are God-given.  I’m a little more exhausted each day, but they are beautiful.  And we are in this thing called life together.  No matter what.

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NicoleNicole is a daughter to the King and a wife to an amazing man. She is a classical homeschooling mama to four, by birth and adoption. She is a part-time newborn photographer, a founder and adoption photographer at Red Thread Sessions, a board member of The Sparrow Fund and an advocate of orphan care and adoption. When she’s not with her family or behind her camera, she loves to blog, create, give life to old furniture, spend time at the beach and read. She strives to live her life to glorify our Heavenly Father.  With His love, all things are possible.

He calls me mama

Today marks 5 months that Dumpling has been in our arms.  It also marks about 2 months of him seeking me out as “mama” and “mom” and “mommy.”  I had to work hard for those titles though, they didn’t come easily.  For the first couple months, he didn’t refer to me or DH as anything.  He simply walked over to us and tapped our leg or arm to get our attention.  Even despite our silly name games when we pointed to and named each family member.  We did that a lot.  For awhile, Dumpling even called himself “mama.”  Oy.  There was a lot of confusion associated with names of people because, frankly, my guess is he may have never understood that people have names.  Oh sweet boy.

After awhile, he began to get my attention with a word/sound he developed after coming home.  It reminded us of the sound one might make while doing a karate chop.  It’s humorous now, but at the time, I’ll admit it was a bit frustrating.  He still defaults to that sound sometimes now, but a quick reminder sets him back on track.  A few months ago though, no amount of repeating “mama” seemed to do the trick.  He just wouldn’t call me mama.  Or couldn’t.  I can’t be sure.  He was able to easily repeat it but just didn’t make the association.  I wondered if maybe it was because of his hearing loss, but he only has minor loss on the one side and has been able to hear and follow multi-step directions from early on.  I’ll never know what was going on back then.  But it was hard to not feel a little hurt in my heart because it felt personal, even though I knew in my brain that it wasn’t.

web 2Slowly though, with time and lots and lots and lots of repeating and reminding, it happened.  His karate chop sound was replaced with “mama.”  And then “mom.”  And even “mommy” like the other children call me.  And then “MOM!!!!”  And like other parents who want so badly to hear their children use words but then sort-of-but-not-really regret they wanted it, he was calling for me all day long.  Sigh.  And now at 5 months home, he even calmly calls for me by name when he wakes up in the morning.  It’s beautiful.

I think this transition closely mirrors his attachment transition too.  It’s as if his willingness or ability to call me by name is representative of his attachment growth.  Although I still think we need more time, I feel more and more comfortable every day with his connection to us.  And our choice to keep him close for these first months is just confirmed over and over for me.  I know it’s been difficult for our extended family to be kept at such a distance, but I’m confident it was the best decision for everyone.  Attachment requires work and intentionality, just as it has to teach him who his mama is.  And that work is worth every bit of time and effort.  I still find myself quietly observing him, simply amazed by him.  By all he’s accomplished in the short 5 months he’s been our son.  By how much I deeply love him.  And I’m overcome with joy and thanksgiving because it is such an honor to be his mama.  The days are long and I don’t always make the best choices or have the most patience, but good gracious I love this child with all of my being.

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Last month when DH and I were at Together Called, DH was waiting with Dumpling in the hallway while I finished leading my breakout session.  When I opened the door of the conference room to the hallway, I spotted them at the other end of the hallway.  DH was chatting with a friend while his wife played with Dumpling at a distance (I love being with other parents who understand adoption attachment!).  Dumpling was having fun and was clearly engaged, but do you know what he did when he caught my eyes?  He pointed at me and yelled, “MAMAAAAAA!!!!!” and came running to me with all his might.  And you better believe that his mama got down on her knees and scooped him up in her arms when he crashed into her.

In that moment, all of my attachment and connection worries melted away to a puddle of mush on the floor.  It’s one of those memories that will always be with me.  Yes, I knew right then that we were going to be just fine.  He knows I am his mama and he is so very certainly my son.

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NicoleNicole is a daughter to the King and a wife to an amazing man. She is a classical homeschooling mama to four, by birth and adoption. She is a part-time newborn photographer, a founder and adoption photographer at Red Thread Sessions, a contributing blogger at No Hands But Ours and an advocate of orphan care and adoption. When she’s not with her family or behind her camera, she loves to blog, create, give life to old furniture, spend time at the beach and read. She strives to live her life to glorify our Heavenly Father.  With His love, all things are possible.

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We’re building the nest this month!

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The Fruits of Attachment Labor

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While we were waiting to bring Sunshine home back in 2010 and 2011, I learned as much as I could about fostering attachment. I tried to memorize all of the attachment advice. Build trust by meeting needs quickly, check. Be the only ones to meet all of her needs, check. Love unconditionally, check. Don’t let other people hold her, check. Wear her for as long as she’ll let me, check. Cocoon for a few months after coming home, check. The list goes on, but those were the ones that stuck in my head. The ones I repeated over and over.

Sounds easy enough, I suppose. Except, it wasn’t.

I prayed a lot and became very close to God during that time. Sometimes I got the attachment thing right, but I failed miserably many other times. Occasionally, I felt isolated because most of our friends didn’t understand. Many of our extended family members didn’t understand either. Sunshine appeared “fine,” so I’m pretty sure a few of them thought I was being a controlling crazy person. It’s hard to put into words how much I desperately wanted to protect the bond with her! I should have done a better job explaining the attachment theories back then though. Maybe it would have made more sense to everyone else. I had only a few friends to lean on for support in those first months home. I relied on them and my husband heavily, and we pushed forward.

Fortunately, attachment came easily for Sunshine. I think her strength and bravery, coupled with the year with her foster mother really helped her thrive. I didn’t fully realize it then, but it was such a blessing! Over time, attachment became less of a concern as our precious girl blossomed into the child God created her to be. We became less intentional about attachment based on her cues, but I always remained protective. Hence, the reason it took a year and a half before I was ready to leave her in the church nursery.

Fast forward to this past week. Over three years home with us. It was a big week of firsts. First Mandarin lesson with a new teacher. First day of homeschool co-op with a new tutor. First day of Community Bible Study (CBS) with another new teacher. First day on the IEP with a new speech-language pathologist. That’s a lot of firsts, even for an adult!

And you know what? She rocked it. Every single new adventure I threw at her. Rocked all of it. When I picked her each time, she was beaming with a smile that clearly showed how happy she was. She has been asking for “dat Chinese wady” since her lesson. She has been singing the new songs she learned in co-op. And she said the only thing she didn’t like at CBS was “da bwocks” … I’ll call all of that a big win. I couldn’t have been anymore proud of her, she tackled it all so beautifully.

As I reflected on Sunshine’s successes this week, I thought back to those first few months home. The intentional attachment parenting was worth it. Every bit of it. To see her effortlessly thriving in so many new environments is absolutely priceless. I have a smile on my face just thinking about how well she did. It can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel on some days, but the fruits of all that attachment labor are paying off in such big ways.

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NicoleNicole is a daughter to the King and a wife to an amazing man. She is a classical homeschooling mama to {almost} four, by birth and adoption. She is a part-time newborn photographer, a founder and adoption photographer at Red Thread Sessions, a contributing blogger at No Hands But Ours, and an advocate of orphan care and adoption. When she’s not with her family or behind her camera, she loves to blog, create, give life to old furniture, spend time at the beach, and read. She strives to live her life to glorify our Heavenly Father. With His love, all things are possible.

 

During the Process

During the adoption process, there are few things more fierce than the determination of an adoptive mama (or baba) to get to her baby. She has a strange, indescribable love for her child that carries such intensity, it’s often overwhelming. The “my-claws-will-come-out-if-you-get-in-my-way” mama bear protective instincts kind-of-love are ferocious and very real. Anything that stands in the way of getting to her baby is met with aggressive determination to overcome. She is her child’s best earthly advocate and she knows it, so she fights with love for her baby in a way that may appear insane to bystanders. To have such powerful feelings for a child, sometimes living on the other side of the world who she has never met, is confusing for many people. It’s not logical and makes no sense. I know this. But love often doesn’t make sense, does it? And I am, once again, feeling these intense emotions as we wait to bring Dumpling home. Maya Angelou said, “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” Yes, that sweet Maya Angelou, who’s poetry I so enjoyed reading when I was younger, knew a thing or two about love.

Knowing that my God is fighting even harder to bring him home to us makes the feelings even more intense and staggering. He is already moving mountains, and I am anticipating Him continuing to overcome barriers in amazing ways as the process continues. I am so grateful for the opportunity to bring a SON home through adoption, to experience God’s intense love for His children in a small earthly way. Knowing that we will bring Dumpling home at the end of this long process is what keeps me focused and pushing forward. He is waiting for us and doesn’t even know it. I think about him all the time. I look at the clock, factor the 12 hour difference, and wonder what he’s doing. I study his referral paperwork over and over to try to memorize his routine, realizing that it’s probably different because the information is a year old. I cling to the information I have nonetheless. I watch the few videos I have of him obsessively. I stare at his pictures, looking for any new piece of information I may not have noticed before. I wonder if he got enough to eat today, if he got to play with friends, and if his boo-boos were kissed. I wonder if someone loved him today, yesterday, last week, last month. I wonder if he knows he matters. I wonder if he knows what hope is. I wonder if he knows how much he’s loved, by us and his heavenly Father.

Despite all that I don’t know right now, I know that He knows. And that gives me peace. I know that the Father has His hand on our precious little guy and He loves Dumpling more than I can imagine. His love is stronger and greater and mightier. His love is deep and His love is wide. His love prevails and crosses all oceans. His love is all we need, and knowing that is so freeing.

I’ll finish with this sweet quote from the late Maya Angelou: “I am grateful to have been loved and to be loved now and to be able to love, because that liberates. Love liberates. It doesn’t just hold—that’s ego. Love liberates. It doesn’t bind. Love says, ‘I love you. I love you if you’re in China. I love you if you’re across town. I love you if you’re in Harlem. I love you. I would like to be near you. I’d like to have your arms around me. I’d like to hear your voice in my ear. But that’s not possible now, so I love you …’”

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NicoleNicole is a daughter to the King and a wife to an amazing man. She is a classical homeschooling mama to {almost} four, by birth and adoption. She is a part-time newborn photographer, a founder and adoption photographer at Red Thread Sessions, a contributing blogger at No Hands But Ours, and an advocate of orphan care and adoption. When she’s not with her family or behind her camera, she loves to blog, create, give life to old furniture, spend time at the beach, and read. She strives to live her life to glorify our Heavenly Father. With His love, all things are possible.