Monday, October 26, 2009

Emily and Ivy

To Ragena: How Do I Thank Someone for Being One of My Dearest Friends in the World...and Yet I've Never Met You?

Life is full of mysteries. Some things just possibly cannot be revealed here on earth in this life.

Ragena is one of those mysteries.

She has loved my family for several years now -- prayed for us, and been an undergirding force of strength...literally moving heaven and earth to help "make things happen" in the world of international adoption.

I didn't even know she existed.

Ragena has a heart for China and for the children in orphanages who need families. Truthfully, she simply has a heart for people, and life's circumstances have allowed her to learn more about the beautiful almond eyed faces whom she'll likely never see.

She's not been there, to China, in person when...precious 'heart babies', skin color seemingly blue b/c of very little oxygen flowing in their veins...when they have breathed their last breath. No. BUT she's supported and prayed for the organizations who are on the ground in China working feverishly to show compassion and be the arms who DO who hold these babies & children in the hour of their greatest need.

Ragena's an ordinary person with an extraordinary heart to care for the helpless & the hurting. She commits herself to intercede/intervene for this beautiful people group, the Chinese, & especially for "the least of these" who are in desperate need for others to think of them & consider their plight.

She knew there were little children needing families and eventually heard through other sources that I wanted to adopt from China. She lives a gazillion states away from me -- never met my family or me, but just sorta became our own personal missionary, took us in as the recipients of her love and concern, and now we're forever friends/family.

Although Ragena didn't know what my future daughter's name would be (and neither did I), as she prayed for us & Chinese children in orphanages...Ragena nicknamed/tagged her "Willow". I believe her inspiration was a scripture in Psalms about a person being "like a tree planted by the water...its roots never fail and it flourishes always". After the adoption when she revealed to me this sweet nickname she used in prayer (when referring to the daughter I now embraced), I was delighted. Such a gentle name - denoting a strength that runs deep.

Back in the spring of this year, she sent the most wonderful box to Miss Emily. She sent her an American Girl doll...the Asian one, named Ivy. Too precious. When the box arrived and Em opened it up, ooooooo-ed and aaaaahhhhhhh-ed, I had to explain that the doll, accompanying clothes, shoes, book...were all from someone who loved her: Aunt Ragena. I told her how Ragena loves the people of China, the children who need/needed mommies, and how Ragena did NOT just stumble into our lives -- but that it all was miraculously ordained.

She got it.
As best she could for her level of understanding far away people and far away places.

Yep. It's a mystery. The Lord placed this special person on earth to consider our lives in the most meaningful of ways when we didn't even know what needed to be considered ourselves!? She paved the way spiritually for red threads to connect, for lives to be touched, and for relationships to be formed.

A while back Emily and I were riding down the street in a local neighborhood. (This is NO lie.) Em gave a little gasp to get my attention to tell me about a tree in one of the yards. She said, "We got that tree in China. I know it (translated: I remember it.)." It was a Willow tree. I told her, "Ah. Yes. Your Aunt Ragena loves Willow trees. Let's get out and take a picture of you standing by it. We'll have to send it to her so she can see it, too."

We took the pic.

DO they have Willow trees in China where Emily lived? I have no idea, but she has commented on this particular type of tree (Weeping Willow) on 2 separate occasions that I specifically remember. I happened to have my camera with me on the second go round.

Hopefully I'll get the photo in Ragena's Christmas card (...preferably this year as opposed to next). Ha.

Ragena retired from the teaching profession this past year. I understand from other sources that she was the epitome of what a teacher should be and VERY well loved by all who came under her influence. Here's a Smilebox compilation of her life in photos that was presented at her retirement party.

We love ya, Ragena.
Vicki, Emily/your "Willow", and Family

P.S. I lied. I wrote that you likely will never see the faces of the ones for whom you've prayed. I plan for Emily to meet you one day. We'll be there. Promise.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sweet Angels at Autumn Moon Celebration

Although I planned to buy a few outfits while in
China, I'm shocked that I really had the presence of mind to do so. Seems like the trip became all about adjustment/survival/transition while there with my new grieving daughter --- that some of the "feel good things on my to-do list" sorta went out the window.
Emily and I had to stay at the hotel one day when ALL the others went to the Pearl Market. Phooey. Emily needed to spend time with me, one-on-one, alone to have attachment opportunities. I missed some of the sight seeing chances b/c of this....but after was NOT supposed to be planned as a vacation. (Wishing in advance it would be. Glad I'd done my homework on adoption, attachment, grieving children, yadda, yadda.) It was critical that Emily's emotional/physical/familial needs get met. So...darn the luck and my once in a lifetime shopping chances. Em and I stayed behind at the hotel. I have no clue what we actually did that day. Probably surfed the Chinglish tv channels looking for a familiar face that liked me. Ha.

I DID buy this little red dress and another Larger sized for later years. I bought some shoes, too. I don't think Emily's really worn them yet. Honestly, I'd forgotten I even HAD them. I found them in the basket where I dumped all my China goodies -- a week or so after jet lag departed and I was unpacking my suitcase. That basket became the "officially from China trip" items.

It was a rainy day when we celebrated the Moon Festival with our local China Adoptive Group. Em asked if she could wear the shoes. I sorta hemmed and hawed at first response as if to say, "....rain puddles". Whatever. I told her she could. Why not. No need to preserve them flawlessly. Get them wet. Wear them out. Make memories in them. Enjoy. I'd rather have them filled with her feet experiencing precious times instead of saved for a museum. Ha. Like a museum would w-a-n-t them.

She chose her black dress slippers instead. Sam Walton specials won out over Guangzhou Goodies. Hmpf!

As for the Pearl Market. I handed Christy a wad of money and said, "Just get some that she/Emily can wear." I didn't specify amount, quality....OR even to get me a necklace. Aw man

Monday, October 12, 2009

Went to Ayi KK's House to Celebrate Jeffu and Kristen's Birthday...

Happy B'day to the Dynamic Duo: Father and Daughter.

Kristen - We are all sooo proud of your accomplishments. Emily adores
you. Thank you for being such a wonderful friend
and influence in her life.

Little Miss "Pull-a-Prank" is Getting Ready to Make Jeffu Her Latest Victim.

Deed is Done: Jeffu's Face Covered w/Southern Living Magazine

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Two Peas in a Pod at Gotcha Day Celebration. Need I Say More?

Kristen and Emily acting goofy!

Emily and Kourtney (a.ka. Cinderella)

This is from our Gotcha Day celebration last month, too.
See Emily's hand around Kourtney's neck? Mom
commented on how darling this photo is of the two of them.
When we arrived home from China last year and after being w/Emily 24 hours a day, 7 days a week....after weeks of jet lag, adjustments, some meltdowns, and just generally making my way through this new change in my life/her life....I called Kourtney to come over and babysit. She came with her "bag of fun": games, toys, you name it.
As I explained to Emily that I was leaving the house for a little while, Oh.No.Way.
She wasn't gonna have any part of staying with ANYone.
Why? Because she loved me so dearly? Of course not. She still didn't even know me that terribly well. It was because of her security. Her safety. No more changing of her life on top of the HUGE change she was undergoing simultaneously -- not even for a few hours. She could not handle it.
Emily screamed, grabbed me by the leg, and in her best Chinese speaking way begged, begged, begged me not to leave. As best I can remember, she was likely just saying, "No, mommy. No, mommy. No." Well, case closed. I wasn't leaving. She obviously wasn't ready.
I felt sorry for Kourtney b/c I didn't want her take it personally.
I felt sorry for Emily b/c I realized how challenging her life experiences were at the time.
Is this the same for all internationally adopted children? I don't know -- but it is more OFTEN than not for those who've been adopted at an older age. They are well aware of what is going on around them and can voice their emotions.
Oh brother. I was so very, very disappointed that it did not work out that Saturday evening. I was desperate for some time "away" even if it meant being gone only for a few hours. I'm sure I started crying after Kourtney left just b/c of the missed opportunity.
Well -- time, experience, and love have a way of working life out, don't they?
By the looks of the photos above, Emily treasures time with Kourtney & Kristen. And I ain't cryin' no mo!! I'm blessed to have them as dear family friends.

Yep. These Worked Just Fine for Celebrating Autumn Moon Festival!

I couldn't find Moon Pies in the "normal" grocery stores. Had to actually go to a convenient store and snatch up a few. At 79 cents an individual cake, I didn't buy lots. Ha.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the tradewinds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~Mark Twain

Other Stories that Inspire...

The statement, "He is a very good boy." weighed heavily on this family's heart as they sought God's will about another international adoption.

His mom writes, "We also knew this was a family commitment. Once we were sure all our kids were for it and we were “All in for Adam” there was no turning back. He is not just a good boy. He is our good boy!"

Friday, October 2, 2009

Happy Moon Festival - October 3, 2009: Traditional Chinese Holiday

Wikipedia Says:
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, or in Chinese, Zhongqiu Jie (traditional Chinese: 中秋節), is a popular harvest festival celebrated by Chinese people, Koreans, and Vietnamese people (even though they celebrate it differently), dating back over 3,000 years to moon worship in China's Shang Dynasty. It was first called Zhongqiu Jie (literally "Mid-Autumn Festival") in the Zhou Dynasty.
I've actually had -- well, tasted shall I say -- Chinese Mooncakes. Um. (hem hawing around taking place) I don't particularly care for them, but seems like I'm not solo on that opinion. Even THE Rumor Queen (China Adopt Talk website) doesn't care for them either.
Gosh. The darling little cakes are lovely to behold. They're thick and somewhat similar in texture to an American fruitcake. I bought one in Guangzhou, China at a Starbucks on Shamian Island. Emily wanted one then, and I felt if it was "comfort food" to her, so be it. Enjoy.
I tasted it with my coffee. It was an enjoyable, had-to-be-there moment. Good...but not my fave.
All that said, some folks American-ize the holiday and eat Moon Pies. Seems like the whole Moon Festival concept is reinforced, and a fun tasting time is had by all. I plan to do a little more research about the Chinese traditional holiday, buy the Moon Pies, and explain to Miss Em
W-H-Y we get to enjoy a little snacky-poo.