2012 will come to an end in just a couple hours and it's difficult to comprehend the year that it has been. It started with the assumption that finally we would get our referral for Mia Jade and indeed we did on June 25th. But it almost seems like two different years - the one leading up to our referral and then the one after referral.
As I look back, the first half of the year was extremely stressful but at every step, our prayers were answered. We were worried about our finances to finalize the adoption but were blessed by unexpected money that eased our fears. Next I had major surgery, which is always concerning but it went along the best case scenario. And the most stressful time, as we renewed our home study, the reality of the life changes ahead and possible challenges really freaked us out for a few days. We questioned if we were doing the right thing, if we were ready to 'rock the boat' by adding another family member. Zane was use to being an only child, he had come to a point where he was pretty ease and here we were ready to 'start over' with baby/toddler. Fortunately God calmed our fears fairly quickly and we were back on track. As scary as it was for a couple days, I am glad we addressed these fears head on and communicated through them. It gave me the confidence that we were indeed finalizing this decision together.
I decided to take the summer off of school so I could focus more on my time with Zane. I knew that it was going to be difficult for him to share me and honestly for me to share my time with another. He is my dream come true, my baby miracle. He changed my life from black and white to technicolor. Would I love this child as much as him? Would I focus too much on her? My mom always told me a mother's love does not divide but grows with a second child and besides I am that second child and what a relationship I have with my mom!
So as referrals were approaching the excitement and anxiety increased. What was our referral going to hold? I reviewed our petition for 2006. We wanted a girl (a friend of mine got a boy referral and was very surprised but there had been a mix up with their original paperwork), so I was pretty confident it would be a girl but the number of boys have increased. I would love another boy but this type of adoption plays weird games with your head when you are asked to request a gender and then six years go by and you expect that is what your referral will be. We asked for 0-12 months of age - generally the youngest is 5-6 months old but referral have been getting older as of recently. I was hoping to get our baby home by her first birthday. And twins...that was on our original request but as unlikely as it was, we submitted an addendum that we did not want twins...we would have our two now, I don't think we could handle three!
We were getting close in April/May and it turned out the cut-off day was the day before our LID so I was confident we were next, which was very comforting. Our agency got our matches on Friday but we had to wait until Monday for 'the call'. I was surprisingly calm all weekend. I was ready - we were ready! Then 'the call' came on June 25th. A girl, 14 months old (I must admit initially a little disappointing), from a province I had not heard of after all the years of following referrals, in an orphanage not foster care, and that face - not what I expected, not the typical Han looking baby but adorable! As I learned of her province, she could possibly a minority of China, not the majority Han. And that name! Fu Han Yu - "cherished jade"! All those years ago and angel whispered in my ear, in a state of half awake/half asleep that I would name her Mia Jade. Her fate, my faith, were nailed down at that moment.
The referral to travel time was crazy, face paced, exciting, stressful, fun, anxious, reality at full speed! It was so comforting to finally have a face to look at and thank God for. Putting together the crib that had been put away for so long, painting the room and made a nursery! I pulled out years of purchased clothes, sadly put aside the 6m & 9m clothes and focused on the 12m & 18m clothes. There was a little bit of 'mourning' period over her age but in the end, her age, as everything turned out perfectly! The mourning did not last long but it was an adjustment in my mind. Now I am so thankful that she is her age, she is easier to care for than a baby as toddlers are independent in nature, allowing more time to focus back onto Zane.
And travel & Gotcha! No words can sum up that trip. It was the most amazing two weeks of my life and with my best friend (mom!). I think about the trip almost everyday since I have been home. Standing on the Great Wall, wondering through the Forbidden City, being handed my daughter, walking the streets of China, seeing her orphanage, her crib, meeting amazing families on the same trip and Chinese who were as fascinated in see me as me seeing their home. I loved that trip!! It was about as perfect as it could have been. (I always thought I would like to take her back as she gets older but now I know it is a place I want to return, hopefully sooner other than later.) And ultimately bringing her to her father and brother, to a home that will give her the family that she was missing, and an opportunity to know Jesus Christ. This year also brought the opening of our new church, the Church of Eleven 22 and another answered prayer, Mike has been going to church with us. To have all four of us walking in the doors of church as a family is as wonderful of a thing as I can ask for! Mike took Zane to church while I was in China to keep his norm and it was another wonderful benefit of the time away from home.
And the last few months, getting to know my daughter, has been better than I could have ever expected. She has adjusted so well. She is happy and joyful, funny and loves to do whatever her brother does! But there are still challenges. Loving an internationally adopted child is interesting. I loved her before I knew her, before I ever saw her face. I loved her when they handed her to me but I have been falling in love with her over the past three months. We are still getting to know each other. Still working on communication. Still adjusting to a family of four. Still working on balancing time for her and time for Zane. Since she has been home we have had Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and five family birthdays. It has been crazy to say the least but it has been very good. That being said, I am ready for a low-key time period and finding a 'new normal' in 2013. I have LOVED 2012, it was a year that I waited a long time for, I'm a little sad to see it go, but I am also really looking forward to 2013. Happy New Year!