Friday, September 6, 2013

A Nave for 6 Months

It's been a long time since I posted here.  The remainder of our trip in China did not go the way we had anticipated.  Since the name of this blog is "We planned, God laughed" that seems appropriate.  We had all planned to come home on March 14 but due to issues that arose in country, Kevin and Sean had to wait 7 weeks before they could travel home.  For now, the reasons aren't important.  What is important is how we were blessed and managed during that time.  For me there was incredible growth in parenting alone and having absolute trust in God that this was all happening for a reason.  Thanks to Facetime and email I was able to continue connecting to Sean even though we were thousands of miles apart.  I think the kids got a new appreciation for their dad and all he does for them.  And I was so proud of Kevin.  He managed to get around a city of 12 million non english speakers for 7 weeks!!!

God worked a lot in our lives during that time.  The support we got from people in China, our parish, family and friends was amazing and I couldn't have done it without that support.  We were truly blessed!

But, this blog is about Sean.  It was so hard to get him and then have to leave him.  We knew it could be a period of time and so the options presented to us were returning Sean to his orphanage in Jia Musi or foster care in Guangzhou.  Our guide was shocked when I told him neither of those were acceptable and that one of us would stay as long as it took to get Sean home.  He worked right away to help get Kevin and Sean a place to live, a phone, internet etc.  Without Richard things would have been bleak so we are forever in his debt.

So, Sean . . . wow what an amazing kid!  He is funny, affectionate and brilliant!!!  He is getting along with the other kids spectacularly!  Sean and Luke are very connected, perhaps they were brothers in another life.  He is not above snuggling on the couch with Catherine or Claire.  There are lots of hugs and kisses.  He has nick names for each of us that at one point or another started with the word "Baby" as in "Hello Baby Mom".

He has jumped into our family and all that we do with both feet and an open heart.  He tries and repeats everything.  He loves the pool, boating, playing Wii and joking.  The only thing that has been difficult to get used to is having a tween boy who loves the sound of bodily functions.  Saying 'poop' or 'booger
seem to be his special joy.

Sean's transition has been so easy, well other than that whole 7 unexpected weeks in China thing.  Sean has been such a blessing.  He has added a symmetry to our lives that we didn't expect.  The ease with which he has become a part of our family has been astonishing.  Just like the birth of a child you wonder and worry about how it will all go.  Today, I can't believe we ever worried.  The special part of this story is that we acknowledge God's hand in Sean's adoption.  Recently Kevin told me that when he saw the 1st picture of Sean it was like God grabbed him by the back of the neck and said "Listen, this boy is supposed to be in your family."  Truly called to Sean and so blessed that we heeded that calling.

Fresh off the plane from Guangzhou!  So happy they were home!!!!!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Perfect Fit . . . .

Today is day 3 with Sean and I am constantly amazed by this sweet boy!  It feels like he has been in our family for much longer.  Having him here is so comfortable that I can’t believe it’s only been 3 days.

Yesterday, Friday, we received his passport and left Harbin for Guangzhou.  We had been watching the weather in Harbin for about a month before traveling and were delighted to see that it had warmed up into double digits(meaning the teens).  That seemed manageable as it gets cold like that where we live.  However, we really were surprised at how cold it was there.  Sean came to us wearing a pair of long underwear, some kind of insulated pants and then jeans over those.  He was probably the only one of us that was warm.  It was 9 degrees when we left.

Friday afternoon we flew to Guangzhou where the weather is 65-70 degrees warmer.  It was a long flight and Sean did just great.  We let him have a window seat so he could see everything . . .take off and landing.  We arrived in Guangzhou and two really amazing things happened with Sean.  First, he recited the alphabet for me.  Second, later in the evening he said “Dad! Come here!”  We were shocked, but thrilled of course.  He has apparently studied some English and that puts him ahead of the curve which is wonderful.

This morning, Saturday, we had a wonderful breakfast.  The hotel where we are staying is not the same as where we stayed her when we got Claire.  We wanted to stay on Shamian Island but all the adoption related appointments have moved off Island so there really wasn’t a reason to stay there.  The hotel where we are now is lovely, the room is much bigger and the hotel is centrally located.  There are a lot of other families staying here, including some that I met on line through our agency prior to travel, so it feels very comfortable here.  

After breakfast we headed to the medical appointment.  Our guides Richard and his wife Alexa had a plan for us to leave a little early to try to beat the rush and that was a great plan.  We were one of the first groups there and went right in to see all the doctors.  Sean had to be seen by nurses and doctors for cognition, ENT, eyesight etc.  Poor little guy also had to have blood drawn as well as 4 vaccinations.  He took it all in stride and came out of the shots with a grin.

The kids got to go swimming today.  The weather was perfect, the pool temperature was a bit cold.  At least that’s what I figured based on the screaming when they hit the water.  Sean was a trooper for what I have to assume is his first time swimming.  He got in and did a whole lot of splashing.  
 He and the kids are doing well together and Kevin and I are so glad that we brought all of them.  I think it really makes a difference for Sean, as it did Claire, to have them here.  He is teasing them, looking out for them, playing as if he’s always been with us.  

I am still mindful of all that he is giving up to be with us.  At our US Consulate appointment on Tuesday he will again be asked if he is sure he wants to be adopted and come to America with us.  We face that appointment with much less trepidation than earlier in the week but still acknowledge that he will again have to choose.  It’s hard to know what’s going on in his head.  I just hope that over these last few days, he has come to believe, even if he doesn’t understand it, that we love him and will do what we can to make his life a happy one.  Our job, from this day forward, is to help him understand it.  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

He Said Yes!!

It's official!!!  We are now the parents of 6 kids!!!

Our 24 hour "Harmonious Period" was up this morning and we went to the Heilongjiang Adoption Center to complete Sean's adoption under Chinese law.  There we met the director of his orphanage as well as the teacher who we met yesterday.  There was a lot of paperwork to sign and make sure was correct.  After Kevin and I signed everything they had Sean come over.  They asked him if he was sure that he wanted to be a part of our family, to be adopted and come to the United States.  He replied (in Chinese of course) "Yes!  Absolutely!"  Then he signed the paperwork and gave his finger print.

We all let out a sigh of relief.  I didn't realize I'd been holding my breath.  It certainly seemed like our harmonious period was just that, but until he signed that paper I couldn't be sure.  What has been interesting is that I think he was just as nervous as we were.  Since we left, there have been many smiles, running with the kids, and joking around.  Sean seems more at ease than he was just earlier this morning.

We had the opportunity to spend time with the director and teacher to get a clearer picture of what Sean's life has been like to this point.  There are people there who want to keep in contact with him and of course we will encourage that.  They are important people to him and we are happy that he has been loved to this point.

So now we are settling in.  Just being relaxed and wishing we could tell him so much.  Like Claire he will have to learn the family ropes, the ropes of being an American boy over time.  If the "Harmonious Period" is any indication, I think he will do just fine.

Adoption Complete!!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Got Him!!

All I can really say is WOW!!  I can't believe we have our boy.

We woke up early for breakfast and we were all a bit stressed.  We sat down with the kids this morning and asked Claire to explain exactly how she felt when she was in Sean's shoes 17 months ago.  She of course explained that she was very scared.  She also disclosed that she thought we were robbers!  Not sure if she was trying to be funny or if she was serious but it led to a good discussion of how as a family we where going to make things as easy as we could for him.  As we were all getting dressed, Claire said "I think we should pray" and she quickly offered up a prayer for Sean.  So proud of her and all she has learned over the last year and a half.

We headed down to breakfast and ran into our guide Lynne about 30 minutes before anticipated.  She told us that she had received a call from Sean's teacher (my heart lept into my throat for a minute) who said that they would be early so she asked if we could leave early.  Leave early we did.  It was pretty quiet in the van as we all were thinking about the change our family would be undergoing.  We went up to the adoption office and we thought we'd be placed in a room and Sean would be brought to us.  We more or less stumbled into the room where he was waiting.  Our guide turned us around and asked us to go to another room.  Sean followed us in.  Here is our first family picture.

After doing the paperwork we left the adoption center and headed back to our hotel.  The kids presented Sean with his DS and new clothes and then we headed out to explore Harbin.  We have just missed the Ice Festival for which Harbin is famous.  There are still ice sculptures out, because its so cold no ice could melt, and I think we'll head out again tonight to look at the sculptures in the dark.

    We had a quick lunch, a little shopping at Walmart for hotel room snacks and have just been hanging out.  Sean has been doing math problems on his DS, looking at pictures and repeating people's names and becoming a master of Temple Run and Batman.  Already an American boy!!  

When we got Claire, one of the first pictures I took of her was of the kids all together and holding hands.  It's one of my favorites.  I had that opportunity today and I'm posting it here because I think it says it all.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Fears . . .his, mine and ours

It's an understatement to say that I've been thinking about Sean all day.  Obviously he is the reason for the trip, but as we were touring Beijing, I couldn't help but think about all the things he must be thinking.  I would be terrified.  I'd like to think that a life with the Naves sounds incredibly exciting, but any excitement he may have at the prospect of a brother and sisters, mother and father and numerous other family, I'm guessing his focus is not on what he is gaining but rather what he is losing.  At a minimum he will be leaving behind his friends, caregivers, language, culture and and home.  That has to be overshadowing any excitement he may be feeling.

Tonight my thoughts turned to a family I know about who made this journey for an older child, about 10 months before we got Claire, and their daughter was with them for a few days and then it became clear she didn't want to be adopted.  There is an age, I believe it's 10, that the child also has to consent to the adoption.  This girl didn't.  And they were devestated.  I remember feeling grateful that Claire didn't have to make that decision.  As I remembered how I cried for this family, the realization dawned on me that this could happen to us!  Do I think it will??  No!  But still, I had forgotten about it until tonight and I felt that little bit of fear creep into my heart. 

As Sean is packing his things tonight and spending his last night in his orphanage, a place he's known since he was very little, please pray for all of us.  That our arms will be wide enough to reassure Sean that he is meant for our family, that his heart is accepting of us and all we will offer him, that this plan of God's for us is filled with mostly tears of happiness and very few misgivings.  

Oh, and if you think of it could you pray that he knows a little bit of English???

Sunday, March 3, 2013

We are in China!

I have decided that international travel is all about stamina . . . . how long can you sit in one place and how many movies can you watch at one time.  I just about hit my limit getting here.

We left Spokane on Thursday, February 28, 2013.  Approximately 24 hours, with stops in Seattle and Seoul, we landed in Beijing.  Luke, Catherine and Claire were troopers and so that made the trip pretty easy.  We got to our hotel and literally dropped into bed.

We got up about 5:30 a.m. the next morning, which was actually Saturday in China, and headed to the train station.  We travelled to Zaozhuang to visit Claire's "Chinese Family".  Zaozhuang is where Claire  lived while in China.  When we adopted her we promised we'd bring her back for a visit as soon as we could.  I'll post more about that trip as an update to Claire's blog:

We fell into bed again anticipating all that we would see in Beijing over the next few days.  Also spending a lot of time thinking about Sean, wondering about how he is feeling, and anticipating that moment we will see him.  We can't wait!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

We had a plan, God laughed!

Here, on his 12th birthday, begins this record of the road to Sean.

In October 2011, we completed our second adoption of our sweet Claire.  Changing the family dynamics are always challenging and with three children 10 and under we had decided that our family was finished growing.  We made a plan, God laughed!

Then, in early April 2012, while I was at work I received a message from my husband.  He wanted to know why I had sent him an email.  I had been in court all morning and had neither seen the email nor forwarded it to him.  I asked what it was about and he told me to open it.  It was an e-newsletter from Madison Adoption Associates, the agency we had used to facilitate our adoption with Claire.  I was perplexed because my husband had never been on their email list, or on any list serve and so it was strange that he received this particular email.  As I scrolled through the email, my husband drew my attention to the featured child.  

He said "It just breaks my heart that this little guy doesn't have a family".  My first thought was "Welcome to my world.  I've been looking at files of orphans for at least 2 years."  I don't remember what my second thought was.  I also vaguely remember my husband saying something about our son saying he thought this boy would be a good addition to our family.

The conversation ended and I went about the rest of my day.  I headed home and almost immediately it was clear that something was afoot in my house.  The family sat me down and told me that they had talked about it and taken a vote.  They wanted to adopt this boy!  I was stunned!  My husband talked about being drawn to this child, feeling like he was meant for our family.  It was at that point that I understood what it meant to be called to an action.  I said yes and our third adoption journey began.

Since we had just adopted Claire, only 6 months before, China allows the reuse of a dossier.  This mean I didn't have to redo all the paperwork, but merely update most of it.  The process has been a bit shorter than with Claire and I've been so much more trusting of the timing.  Knowing that our son will come home at the perfect time.  We received our Letter of Acceptance from China in October, our I800 approval from US Immigration and our Travel Approval on February 1.  We leave for China on February 28!

We have received very little in the way of updates but did get a few pictures from our agency and one from China as part of a brief update.  These are the pictures.

He was at a camp sponsored by our Agency.

A pretty picture probably from last summer.

There has been much debate over what we shall name him.  My husband has long loved the name Evan.  He thinks it's a cool name because it is Nave backwards.  I just couldn't go there.  I didn't like the name to begin with but after that reasoning I just couldn't.  I wanted to name him Joseph after my great, great grandfather who immigrated to the United States from Ireland.  We agreed on that name but it soon became clear that my husband wasn't totally on board and a little bitter that I didn't like Evan.  Ultimately we agreed on Sean Calvin.  Sean is the Irish of John, the name of my husband's father.  Calvin is my father's middle name.  So our son is named after his grandfathers.  We are also keeping his Chinese name as a middle name.  

Sean knows about us as we have been able to send him letters and some gifts.  We have not received anything back but this is not unusual.  Looking back it is absolutely clear to me that the Hand of God has really guided us to Sean.  We eagerly await the next 16 days until we leave for China and the time Sean will finally be with us!