Sunday, August 23, 2015

Happy 3rd Birthday, Macie!

By far one of the hardest things during the adoption wait is when you miss out on your child's birthday.  It happens and there is not much adoptive parents can do about it, but it is a bittersweet day celebrating your child's birthday WITHOUT them.   What makes it a bit tougher is that we really thought we would have had her home for her birthday or at the very least been in China celebrating her birthday with her.  With our 2nd file delays, that just could not happen.

Yesterday (Aug. 22nd), we had smiley cookies and ice cream.  We are really looking forward to a special celebration next year WITH our daughter, Macie, HOME with us!   I tried to send a cake to her, but was told that the orphanage already sends a cake to the kids in foster care and that they had already arranged that.  I hope her foster family celebrated her and made her day a special one since we couldn't.

HAPPY 3rd Birthday, Macie!  
We will be coming for you soon- hopefully November.
This picture is from April. It's the most recent we have.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

An Update, the Waiting, and an Introduction

A lot has happened since our last post!  That might even be an understatement.  After we received our I-800 Approval for Macie on June 4th, our agency dropped off our Article 5 in China and then two weeks later it was picked up.  At that point, you are officially waiting for Travel Approval.  Most people are SO excited to finally reach that last step. Excited we were, but we were also extremely nervous.  You see, if you get your travel approval, it is officially too late to add on a second child. Your option at that point is to re-use your paperwork and go back to China many months later.  That really couldn't work for us for many reasons.  So, we chose to do the only thing we could do at that point.  We had our agency hold the Article 5 so we wouldn't get Travel Approval too soon and lose out on the chance to bring this second child home at the same time as Macie or at all.  Definitely less than ideal, but our only option.  That meant we would continue to wait.  So we waited and waited some more.  We are getting pretty good at this waiting thing and it seems to be the theme of this adoption.  To say God is teaching us more about patience, trust, and faith than He ever has before would be another understatement. We have been waiting for this file since December 2014!  We kept crazy busy in June with the end of the school year, Rick's work adventures, summer school classes, birthday parties, going to parks, baseball, t-ball, and swimming.

 Saying goodbye to some teachers who have grown near and dear to our hearts...
these two for the last TWO years (well even more for the special lady above since she had both of these boys for two years each).


 With that came July!   More birthdays, baseball games, celebrations, and time outside.  
 July 1st we celebrated Reid's 8th birthday and his 2 year gotcha day with our family! 
3 of our kiddos got to be on the same t-ball team and they had a terrific coach who is hard of hearing and knew sign language.  Three of the other kids on their team were adopted by a family in town who sign.  Their dad is deaf and works at Lena's school and their mom used to be a teacher at the Texas School for the Deaf.  God had an amazing plan with the formation of this team!

 The rec dept lost our registration and so could not keep our four big boys together on one team.  We struggled watching two practices and two games on two different fields most weeks, but really enjoyed the games when they got to play each other.  Reid and Jonah had the same coach as our t-ball kids so that was special and Evan and Elijah were on a different team and even made a new friend.

 4th of July Fun!


 Adoption Picnic- Reid got to see some of his buddies again!

Shortly after the 4th of July, Rick's grandma took a turn for the worse. She had been doing awesome this last year or so in the nursing home she was in up until this point.   On July 14th, she went to be with Jesus.  It was certainly a bittersweet week for us.   

On July 15th, we celebrated Elijah and Jonah's 7th birthday and Lena's 3 year gotcha day.  That same day we got the call from our agency that the file we had been waiting on FINALLY came!  It wasn't translated though.  Our agency quickly sent it out to be translated and we had the translated version the next day. Our letter of intent to adopt this child had been ready for some time so we submitted it that same day.  Later that week we celebrated GG's life with her visitation and funeral.  We know she in a better place and with those who had gone before her who she has missed for so many years.  There is an empty place in our hearts and many who are missing spending time and making memories with her.  We are treasuring the memories we do have with her though and are thankful that our children were able to know her and that most of them will be old enough to remember her.  

 Celebrating a 7th Birthday and a 3 Year Gotcha Day! 

July went on and we kept busy as ever, but the waiting continued.  This time we were waiting on China to give us Pre-Approval to adopt this child whose file we had waited on for so very long.  Our agency eventually had their China rep check-in on the situation because it was taking so long.  Almost 3 weeks after we submitted our letter of intent, we got Pre-Approval to adopt this sweet girl!!  August 4th was the day.  Now we are waiting for a log-in date for her adoption case, which should be any time and then for our Letter of Approval from China for her.  We sure hope that will come quickly and not hold us up for 2-3 more months.   At this point, it looks like we will be traveling in November. October is starting to look less and less likely every day. We never would have guessed it would be this long, but it is what it is and as Rick reminds me on a weekly basis, we don't have a whole lot of control over most of these things.  

Now before I introduce you to our newest daughter, I need to go back a bit and share some special details of our story to her.  In November I had asked our agency's in-China facilitator to keep us in mind if he knew of any waiting kids from our daughter's province or another province we'd be traveling to who might be a good fit for our family.  He was quick to tell me about a little girl who was from the very same orphanage as our Macie, but living in a different foster family. He said that the orphanage had prepared her file almost a year ago but that they didn't believe she had a family.  As the advocate for our agency, I knew I had not advocated for her.  Oddly enough, I did feel like I had seen her before. I don't know if it's possible to dream about a child you've never seen or met, but I do believe that may have happened.   I contacted our agency's assistant director and China program director to ask about her and she had never seen her before either.  We know she would have been listed with our agency because they have a partnership with this particular orphanage.   This person warned me more than once over the months to not get my hopes up.  There were so many things not in our favor.  I am not going to lie- my hopes were up. I just felt like she was our daughter. It was an instant feeling too- I didn't have to think anything over. I didn't even know what her special needs were. I had an idea of what they may be, but knew no particulars. I did know her birthday, March 17th, and thought that was cool because we enjoy St. Patrick's Day in this house with me being part Irish thanks to my Grandma Linse whose maiden name was King.  The next cool detail was her name.  Her Chinese name is He Lin or HeLin.  I noticed immediately that her Chinese name was made up of part of our last name: HEnningfeld and my maiden name: LINse.   Let's just call these things God winks.  

Fast forward to July- the file FINALLY comes.  But it doesn't just come on any day in July. It comes on Elijah and Jonah's 7th birthday and on Lena's 3 year gotcha day, a very special day in our home.  It also comes right between Rick's grandma passing and her visitation and funeral, helping to make our bittersweet week a bit sweeter.  July 16th- we get the translated file.  Two things stood out to me. HeLin was found on June 20th, 2012. June 20th was Rick's grandma's birthday.   Another God wink.  I had never looked up the meaning of her Chinese name.  The file said He meant peace and Lin meant beautiful Jade.  Another God wink.  We had chosen a name for her awhile back.  We just weren't sure how we planned to spell the first name.  The middle name was 100% set...Jade.

So without further ado, we'd like to introduce you to our newest meant to be daughter:

Maeleigh Jade HeLin Henningfeld, age 3.

 Looks like she has a bit of silly in her- she'll fit in perfectly!
 We sent a care package for her and were blessed with many pictures. I believe we officially have many more pictures of her than of Macie, which seems crazy.  We even got a 12 second video clip of her:

 These two are the most recent we received, taken in July when our in China rep visited her orphanage. Unfortunately he was unable to visit with Macie on that trip but we were told she is doing well.  I am pretty sure Macie's foster parents must think we are never coming for her.

I've also been asked this already, so I figure I should share this here.  Maeleigh is hearing and not deaf, like Macie and Lena.

Our TWO girls: Macie Brynn on the left (she'll be turning 3 in less than 2 weeks) and Maeleigh Jade on the right (those were the first two pictures of her we had ever seen- the ones I felt like I had seen in a dream).

We thank you as always for your support and prayers.  We'd sure appreciate prayers for the rest of our journey- for things to go smoothly and approvals to come quickly, for a grant we're waiting to hear back about that we really need, for safe travels to and from China when the time finally comes to bring our two treasures home, and for our girl's hearts as they will have to say goodbye to their foster families who clearly adore them and to everything they know.

 Some things we know without a doubt about our God:  His timing is always perfect, He is in the details, and His plans for us are amazing!  Many prayers have been answered.  
All glory to you, O Lord!