Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fully funded.

I can hardly even believe I was just able to type that. Let me type it again....

Fully funded. 

Us. Joseph. 

This post is not to brag about our accomplishments (for they are not "ours") or to rub it in and make anyone feel bad who isn't there yet. If you know me at all, then you know my heart. This post is solely designed to encourage.  To give hope.

This post is for you--you know who you are--the one with the open heart who feels that tug to adopt a child, but feels the pressure of financial restraints and then pushes the idea away.

This post is especially for you.

Let me ask you a question...If you knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that your adoption expenses would be completely covered, would you do it? 

Would you then allow yourself to be immeasurably blessed?

Months ago, I remember reading posts about families being "fully funded," and thinking, "that could never happen for us."  Yet, at the same time, I remember--this time last year--when our adoption journey began, promising my husband that God would show up for us. And boy did He.


And He uses all of the people around us to do it. People that you'd never even dream would want to help you. God's good people will come out of the woodwork to help you. There are AMAZING grant organizations (Show Hope and JSC Foundation to name a couple), too. His provision is everywhere.

You just can't be afraid to lean on it.

Please, oh please, friends whose hearts yearn to love the least of these through adoption, know that He does equip the called. Don't let money be the thing that holds you back from adoption. Ever. The treasures that await you on the other side are far too worth it.

He does provide. I promise He will. And I would be honored to help coach guide pray for walk you through it all.

I feel so blessed to be taking this leap again. I feel so blessed period.

And I want you to feel that blessed, too.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Joseph Updates!

As we've waited for various approvals in this adoption process--and now as we anxiously await travel approval--we've become quite curious about our son. So we recently compiled a whole bunch of questions, which Holt condensed into a great little list for us, and submitted to China.

A few days ago, when I returned home from a beach play date with Charlie, we were surprised by an email update from our agency with all of our questions answered! Along with three gorgeous pictures of Joseph, smiling in all of them (and even being goofy in one of them), we also learned some other things that make us feel like he is God's perfect little fit for our family! So heartwarming! These are some of the things we learned...we are so excited to meet our son!

He likes his bath. 

He likes to drink milk. He also likes fruit and candy. 

He likes to play with toys. 

His favorite color is red. 

He likes to watch cartoons and read cartoon books.

There is nothing that scares him.

He doesn’t need anything to help him fall asleep but just lies on the bed by himself. He sleeps in his own small bed and sleeps with lights off. 

He is closest to his caregivers.

He likes to be held and to be close, which is the way to comfort him.

According to the updated measurements, he is three inches shorter than Charlie and about seven pounds lighter! 

His nickname, as we suspected, is “Xiao Xiao" which was Madi's nickname in China, too!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

When I'm five...

The other night at dinner, Charlie began to volunteer random details about what's going to happen when he turns five. I don't think he quite realizes that this is happening in only two months!

Anyway, after his list began to get longer, Madi shouted, "Mommy!  You need to write this down so he will remember what he said!"  She, too, knew that his good intentions might be bigger than he can grasp.

It started like this.

"When I five, I'm guzzin to be patient." (side note: he meant "going to"...I would've corrected him, but I was way too interested to hear what he had to say.)

"Oh really," I replied. "What else are you going to do when you turn five?"

"I guzzin to eat lettuce."
"And I'm guzzing to eat green light foods and drinks."
"And I won't hit myself." (sigh)
"And I guzzin to help!"
"I'm guzzin to vacuum da house."
"I guzzin to say peeze and thank you."
"I guzzin to pull people's chairs out for dem."
"And I'm not guzzin to suck my fingers."

(That's the point at which Madi instinctively knew this conversation must be properly documented.)

"And I not guzzin to ask why."

Whoa. What?

I instantly remembered that, earlier in the week, he and his best buddy had a little argument. Basically, his best friend was sent into a tailspin of tears because Charlie was relentlessly asking him "why?" I completely understand how that could happen...especially when two almost-five year olds are involved. It obviously affected Charlie to the point that he figured he shouldn't ask the question why anymore.

Mama put a quick stop to that thought.

"But Charlie," I explained, "We want you to ask why. Because when you ask why, that means your little brain is thinking. We don't ever want you to stop asking why! Ever!"

I could almost feel his intense relief.  So we scratched that one off the list.

"And I not guzzin to ask why."

..."I'm guzzin to be patient."

He ended with the same one he started with. At least he's consistent.

So there it is. All documented here on our bloggy blog. We will be sure to bring this post to his attention on or after September 16th whenever necessary. Especially when those two middle fingers gravitate to his mouth like magnets. If he delivers on the patience thing, that would be a bonus of ginormous proportions.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The latest...

Today came a big milestone in our adoption! We've received our I-800 approval from USCIS, which approves our family to adopt Joseph as our child. We now move on to several different steps to obtain our travel approval. Fingers crossed, we may be in China in early August to bring our son HOME!

As anticipated, we received an email from our friend at Agape Adoptions, once she just returned from China last week. Her email message came as an early surprise to me, knowing that she had just returned home and was likely very jet lagged. Not to mention the fact that it was Saturday night, yet she chose to take time to accommodate the hearts and minds of waiting parents! She truly is a kind person, and Myriam will always be remembered in this adoption process.

I had woken up around 3 a.m. a few nights earlier, and instantly--as my eyes popped open--I envisioned Joseph opening our gifts. It was as if I could sense that it was happening a world away (China is 1/2 day ahead of us). It turns out that Myriam was there delivering his gifts that day! At the exact time? Who knows, but I like to believe that the Holy Spirit was sending me signals!

So back to the update. The beautiful update...

She had this to say about our son:

"He is a very sweet boy. He takes a while to warm up to people, and its hard to get him to smile, but he is so very sweet and his shyness is just that. He is very alert and aware of his surroundings. He gets along well with other kids and seems very age appropriate to me in his development."
The only tough part of her update, that might've stood out to you, too, is that it's difficult to get him to smile. That is what hit my heart the most. We will have our work cut out for us, but Jimmy and I have faith that we'll get Joseph to come out of that shell. And hopefully he'll be smiling quickly and often.

Thanks to Myriam, we also received a few photos of our little munchkin. I think he looks like a wise, old soul, and I can hardly wait to wrap my arms around him. Forever.  Soon, little man, soon you will be a part of this Murphy family. 


Monday, June 2, 2014

Extra Brave

About a month ago, a sweet friend of mine, Andrea, offered to translate Joseph's Chinese name for us. If you are a blog stalker, you might affectionately know her as "Rini's Mom" and you may know of her beautiful family, and their precious survivor Empress Rini, through her blog. Andrea and I share a love for heart babies, and we also share the same adoption agency!

In all of Andrea's busyness with her family, and the medical needs of her precious children, (not to mention her dedicated advocacy efforts) I was so thankful for Andrea's kind offer, as this was something I'd often wondered about, and it was not mentioned in Joseph's file. 

Andrea was able to translate his name by looking at his Chinese file, which contained the characters for his Chinese name, Xiao Xiao ( 骁 骁 )

I waited, with anticipation, for this reply:

  "The character used for "Xiao" means "brave, strong."  
When doubled, it means "very" or "extra." 

We know in our hearts that Joseph is, indeed, extra brave and strong. All of these children are, aren't they? They are all warriors in their own right, surviving with and without things that most of us take for granted on a daily basis.

I can't begin to imagine what the first five years of our son's life have been like. But come August, that's all about to change... 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

His first report card

What is it about that very first school evaluation that's so incredibly special? I opened the envelope from Charlie's teacher on Thursday and studied those few pages for what seemed like hours, smiling at his straight "A" progress report.

It's in that moment when I soaked in just how far he's come. I couldn't help but well up, as I digested his progress in this past year.

And then my mind drifted to his teacher...his very special teacher who shared beautifully written comments about how much she's enjoyed watching him grow and become so independent in her class.

She was our daughter's teacher when Daniel died.

She was there at our fundraiser--celebrating with us--on our journey to bring Charlie home.

She was there when he was a face on a photo and just a dream in our hearts. And now, he graduates from her class, and he's taken a place in her heart.

Throughout the year, she celebrated his milestones with us. She chuckled in his feisty times when he exhibited emerging confidence and spice.

She tells me, repeatedly, what a sweet child he is, and how sometimes she just has to give him hugs. I see the look in her eyes when she speaks about Charlie...she loves him, too.

She tells me, on numerous occasions, how she had tears in her eyes listening to Charlie say the Pledge of Allegiance.  She knows how far he came to say that Pledge. And it brought tears to her eyes. Charlie doesn't know what that Pledge even means yet. But he will. Someday, he will, and I hope he remembers who taught him those precious words.

Thank you, Kendra Bivins, for being you, and for loving our little monkey so much. Our family will always remember you. And Mr. Charlie, please keep those grades up, young man.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Answered prayer.

When I first corresponded with Agape Adoptions in this post, I expressed a sincere interest in connecting with any adoptive families who are traveling to Joseph's city and orphanage.

I was stunned to read this reply, which certainly piqued my interest, to say the least:

"I will pass your name and email onto our families that are preparing to travel there. His friend is being adopted by one of our families- and I am sure she will contact you."

A day later, she did. I received an email from the new mom of our son's best friend.


Carrie's email gave me chills...seems like I constantly have "God-bumps" throughout the adoption process.

"Not only were we hoping he (your son) was adopted, but we also hoped that we would be able to be in touch with the person who adopted him - so our son could stay in touch with him."

I quickly wrote back to her, feeling an instant sense of "family" here. Along with my message, I attached our family photo. Carrie replied that my email had brought her to tears. You see, they've never adopted before, this family, and a friend told her to "find a friend who has recently been there, done that, or is in the process...a friend who you can call in your craziness and they will understand." When she saw our children, she knew I was that friend.

She calls me an answer to her prayers. And I call her an answer to mine.

Several days later, we spoke on the phone. We both marveled at this glorious unfolding, and she shared something big that I hadn't known....our boys had their surgeries together last year! I've often looked into Joseph's eyes and thought about our son going through surgery all by himself and dealing with the pain of healing. I've wondered if anyone was there to comfort him. Knowing these children shared this experience--and perhaps were able to comfort each other--gives me some peace.

These are Carrie's beautiful words that she posted. I can't love them enough.

"God has a way of knitting hearts together and cares about the littlest needs of the orphan. This is how much God loves the orphan, adores us, and cares about every need... through His divine and miraculous orchestration, I met (via email, FB, and then a phone call), my now new sweet friend and sister in Jesus, who is adopting our son's best friend - our son in China! They have been best buddies for the past 14 months, in the same orphanage, and now we have the privilege of knowing the family he will be joined in. And to top it off, I get to hug on her son when we go get our kids, and tell him how much they love him and are waiting for him - and maybe even bring a gift to him from them! Seriously! What a miracle!"

That brings tears to my eyes every time I read it. The fact that she is already thinking about loving Joseph on our behalf?

She calls me an answer to her prayers. And I call her an answer to mine.

The Holy Spirit's presence is just beyond words sometimes...