Friday, December 26, 2008

Soon We'll Be Found...Out

Christmas Eve
My Parents House
Luckily, Cami had so much Christmas on her mind,
she had not thought to mention
her sister.
Waiting still in China.

The holiday passed without our secret
being told,
but we were not alone.
It is in the unexplainable that sometimes
we find the most important truth.
The spirit of our missing Delilah
was with us on this day.

As I reached into the bag that would be my last present to open,
I found a beautiful and fragile ornament
wrapped in tissue.
I opened it and admired it only for a second,
before my mother exclaimed,
"What are you doing with that"?
"Why do you have that ornament"?

Quickly my brother caught on and pointed out
that I was holding a "New Baby" ornament.
He joked, "Well, do you have something you aren't telling us"?
"Is there a baby in your future"?

I was confused,
for a few reasons.
Because I actually collect this particular type of ornament,
as does my mother apparently.
And because
there is a new child in our future.

But the ornament was not for me.
It was from my mother's tree
and it had "accidentally" fallen off the tree
and into my gift bag.
And now I was across the room holding it in my hand.
She did not intend for it to be part of my gift.
God Winking?

A beautiful moment for us to remember
the coming of Delilah.
what are the chances?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

What Can You Do?

There are many great organizations helping children in China! I have spent hours viewing websites and crying through videos on YouTube. I always want to help in some way, usually in some way much bigger than I have the finances for.

So I developed a plan. My idea actually came from Moving Mountains and I want to be sure they get the credit they deserve. At this website, they had a form to print that I wrapped around an empty breadcrumbs container. Of course any container will do. Sometimes decorating it, or letting your children decorate it can be inspiring.

Into the container goes all my loose change! The coins I find in pockets before pants go into the washing machine, and the coins that I miss and I find in the dryer. Also, the loose change from my husband's pocket at the end of the day. I also try to put some paper money in too when I get change for a larger bill.

Then...... about every two weeks I take the container to my grocery store because it has one of the CoinStar coin counter machines. Immediately after I find out how much money I have saved, I go to Customer Service and ask for a money order. Then I put it in the mail to my "Charity of the Month". (any leftover money goes back in the container)

What I think I'll do on my blog is to let my readers know a little about the different groups I'm sending gifts to and I would love to hear if any of you think this is a good idea and decide to do it yourself.

I have a growing stack of groups I can't wait to collect money for! My container is filling up quickly. I think I'll be ready to make another donation right after Christmas.

My first donation went to Moving Mountains . I'm not able to completely sponsor a student for a school year yet, but maybe my donation will help a girl buy books or paper she needs.

Here is a snippet from their website:

"What if you could promote gender equality in China? What if you could help alleviate poverty for generations to come? What if you could take a female honor student off her farm or out of a factory and put her back in school? Not just any school, but the best high school in her county. What if that girl became your pen pal - a role model for your children, writing about the importance of education and sharing stories about daily life in China?

Moving Mountains provides scholarships to exceptionally bright young women in rural China. These girls understand the importance of education. Despite challenging circumstances, they have proven themselves with top scores on the rigorous entrance exams and they have been accepted into the best high school in their county. They’ve done the work and they have what it takes to succeed, but there is one last hurdle:

Their average family income is $266 a year.

The cost of high school tuition is $300 a year*.

To these girls, the cost of tuition is a monumental obstacle.

Together, we can move mountains!

109 scholarships provided and counting!

Moving Mountains' mission is to reduce poverty and promote gender equality through education by creating an opportunity for sponsors to make a direct impact on the future of a deserving student.

So that's what I am able to do in 2009 to make a small difference in the world.

What Can You Do?

Friday, December 19, 2008

This Child

Oh, how I look forward
to unraveling the mystery of Delilah!
Will she have an quick laugh?
Does she like baby games?
Is she active or thoughtful?
She grows in my heart,
a flower not yet unfurled.
I hold her protectively already,
and I can't wait to show her our world.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Our Past and Future China

Our red thread to China began
before we could have
started to imagine
the places and people
who surround us today.

A week ago
I discovered a
hand stitched
bread cloth
my Appalachian
great-grandmother had sewn,
with a traditional Chinese woman
appliqued in bold colors.

My cultural studies in college
included a class presentation
on the Lives
of Modern Chinese Women.

Now my daughter,
a university senior
is applying for a position
through her school
to teach English
in a coastal China town.

Our red thread is not tangled,
but woven into a tapestry
of lives,
a humming hive of moments,
each one
set in motion
long before we came to know them.

How lucky I feel to be here!
How honored I am to travel
this story!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Items Collected for China Care

Last weekend my family held our annual
Christmas Party.
We have to have it early in the season
because we all have other branches
of the family tree
to swing on!

This group is fun because
not only are there mamas
and mama's mamas,
there are my cousins,
the ones I grew up playing with,
and all their children
who now play with all my children,
and we pretend to figure out how we are all
but we know in the end
it really doesn't matter.
We are family because we are,
and because we continue to make the choice to be.
We have opened our doors and our hearts
to more inlaws and outlaws
than I can even count.
So mostly I just count myself blessed
to be one of us.

We buy gifts for the children,
but the adults have stopped giving each other presents.
Instead we put our heads and hearts together
and give something
somewhere that it is needed.

This year I requested that we support
China Care
This wonderful organization provides
medical care,
foster care,
and more
to special needs orphaned children
in China.

Delilah has fortunately
been part of the China Care program
since she was a young infant.
They provided for her specialized surgery
and foster care.

My family and I
decided to collect items for the
China Care Medical Program.
They have a specific list
on the website of things they need
as they provide ongoing medical care
in several areas of China.

We collected:
9 packs of Preemie Pampers
8 baby bottles
7 packs of replacement bottle nipples
6 Infant Tylenol
5 Children's Motrin
4 tubes of Neosporin
3 tubes of Balmex Diaper Rash Cream
2 bottles of Poly Vi Sol Infant Vitamins
One Digital Thermometer with Celsius Setting

(better than a partridge in a pear tree anyday!)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

How Do You Measure Success?

"To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one's self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived - this is to have succeeded."
Words of Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas Card 2008

From left to right,
Delilah's Siblings
Kegan: 18
Jillian: 14
Cami: 3
Lauren: 22

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Turning a Corner

Last winter Delilah stayed warm in this fluffy green snowsuit.
How much of winter will she spend without us this year??

Time is moving forward.
We are inching toward China.
The holidays pass time in warp speed.
How can Thanksgiving already be over?

We are close to thirty days since our log in.
We are thinking in new ways.

We had flu shots yesterday.
I don't usually get the vaccine
and I don't usually get the flu.
But I want to do all I can to ensure I am healthy
when China calls our name.

I sort through clothes and Delilah has a pile.
She has shoes.
Cami sometimes saves a cookie for her sister in a bag,
and she is willing to save ALL her beans.
But we aren't that close yet I tell her.
So eat the beans.......

Aside from you,
you who have found my blog here in space,
the secret is ours.
We will tell our families after Christmas.
We've held onto this secret so long,
it will be hard to let it go.

We don't keep the secret to hurt anyone,
and I hope we will not be misunderstood.
We want Delilah to come into the family
in her own special time.
She deserves a moment that is hers.
As she steps
a place that we have prepared for her.

Today I wonder if we are near or far,
in this process where anything can happen.
I wait contentedly
while I dream Delilah home.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

We Have a Log In Date

I can finally say
the real wait is upon us.
Our dossier was officially logged in
at the
on November 4th, 2008.

Now we wait
for words
and good news.
We wait our turn
to be called forth
to travel.

Our family beats with an extra heart
and we dance in secret
and smile at strangers.

How odd
that we live leaning forward
toward our little Lilah
who doesn't yet know
she's waiting for us.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Girls in Hats

Oh, the fun we will have!
A special angel sent me the top two photos
of Delilah
trying on different hats!
The bottom photo is Cami in her Easter hat.

The more I learn,
the closer our journey brings us
to Delilah,
the more certain I am.....

that she was chosen,
not by us,
but for us.
There is something much larger than me
at work here.

I continue to be humbled by the power
and the glory
of each new discovery,
each new comfort,
each new promise.

I am not worthy,
but I am willing,
and I guess that goes a long way

Dear Delilah,
our dress up trunk is overflowing.
There are hats and scarves
jewels and clickity clack shoes
plenty enough
for two little girls.
Dear Delilah,
We wait for you.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Care Package Photos

According to the guidelines
of our agency,
we are allowed to send
a care package to Delilah
as soon as our dossier is logged in
with CCAA.

This weekend we visited a park
and took a few pictures
to include in the care package
to help Delilah get to know her new family.

The first one we will probably send her.
The second one is just precious to us.
I would like to send it to Cami's ayis
so they can see how she has
"embraced adoption".

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Dossier to China


Our dossier went to China on October 23, 2008!

This means the paperchase has ended in the West.
The US government has deemed us good students
of adoption.

In the middle of gathering documents
and waiting on forms to arrive
and multiple trips to the notary,
it seemed the work would never be complete.

Now already
I've forgotten the frustrations.
I've forgotten my impatience.

My dossier is winging it's way to China.
And I think God is winking.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Joy of New Pictures!

Nothing makes the waiting both easier and harder than pictures, glorious new pictures!!!

These two pictures were part of an update we received
earlier in the week.

What do you think?
Is she going to be FUN or what!!!
The update stated that Delilah
walks and runs on strong legs,
and she is a TomBoy!

Cami is very anxious for Delilah to come home,
though she just today began to process
the detail
of me being also Delilah's mommy.
She actually said she thought Delilah would be
bringing her own mom with her.

"No honey, but she will be carrying a gun..."

Friday, October 3, 2008


Soon there will be two little girls
with brown eyes laughing,
two shiny heads
that smell like cinnamon
and tumble among us,
drawing from our lips
the songs
of life.

I can't do much now. Our agency told us we could send Delilah a care
package after our dossier was sent to China.
That will happen soon.

For now
I gather trinkets for two girls
who will have two matching backpacks
and for two sister girls who will share snacks and secrets.

Won't you Please Join Us?

I don't know if many people read this blog yet. We are still early in our journey back to China, and to Delilah in Inner Mongolia. But if you would like to follow us, please sign up in the column on the right. And if you have the same widget on your blog, I would like to follow you! I look forward to meeting friends I don't yet know!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Goldfish Street Bike Vendor in China

"Call the loneliest person you know. Go flirt with the oldest person at the bookstore. Fill up a box with really cool clothes that you haven't worn in a year, and take it to a thrift shop. Take gray water outside and water whatever is growing on your deck. This is not a bad metaphor to live by. I think it is why we are here. Drink more fluids. And take very gentle care of yourself and the people you most love: We need you now more than ever. " From a Call to
Arms, Anne Lamott

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

On the Wings of Angels

the police clearance letters I put in
a Fedex box at 5pm
in North Carolina
in Oregon
15 hours later.
They were immediately
sent out again
to the Secretary of State
for Authentication.
The process can now continue!

China From The Sky

Update on the Delay

I think it is all good now! Yesterday I took the documents to the police department and they did everything they could think of to make them officially notarized in the way the Secretary of State requested.

I picked the papers up at 4:30 and dropped them in the Fed-ex box. Now they must go back to Oregon and then return to the Secretary of State in NC. This mistake will cost us a week's delay and getting our Dossier to China.

I suppose in the big scheme of things that is not alot of time. I could not have imagined meeting Cami at a better time, though if I had my choice I would have traveled sooner. But come to find out she probably had chicken pox earlier in the summer. That would have made our first meeting less pleasant for her.

These connections are so big. They have a way of working out exactly as they are intended. It is only me, in my limited earthly form, that grows anxious and discouraged, when really I know that time is moving exactly as it should for a series of events that could not be played out in any other way. By becoming a willing participate, I gave over control to the One who knows the story of all my days.

We said yes without knowing what all we were saying yes to. God knows our hearts. And the beauty of it is that all we really have to do is to be willing. The details will be provided! It's a perfect formula in my opinion.

So I try to handled the rough patches with grace. They are there for a reason. Today I am thankful for the cooperation of the local police department and the timing of the Fed Ex pickup and I will wait for news of progress.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Someone who has known Delilah since she was a month old wrote to me saying, "She is cute and very photogenic. She is a happy little girl. I can only imagine the attention you will receive when you go out with your two daughters".

I cling to these few words. They are a small connection to Delilah and a large comfort to me to know she is happy and being cared for. I am thankful for every person who has touched her life. So many angels along the way......

We have a Delay

I shouldn't be surprised. I knew going in that most adoptions have complications in the paperwork or some kind of slowdown somewhere along the way. Our paperchase was so smooth and simple. I thought we were finished when we sent the last document to our agency.

Then came the phone call.

You see, once all the documents have been filled out and approved by the agency, they must be authenticated at the State level, and then the National level. Our dossier got as far as the Secretary of State for authentication. Someone there didn't like the way our local police station had notarized our clearance letter saying we had no criminal record in the town where we live.

So this letter was returned to me, along with instructions on how it needed to be notarized. On Monday I will take these papers to the police department. I will smile and be really nice, and hope they won't mind taking time out of their busy day to correct this little problem for me.

Once that is done, the police clearance letters will be sent, fast as lightening, to re-join all our other documents on the desk of the Secretary of State. Even with this slight delay, I am hoping we can send our Dossier to China by mid-October!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Every call has a beginning
A quiet moment when God
whispers a promise to a mother’s heart
A holy place where a father bows and faithfully accepts
the journey set before him.
A miraculous morning that unexpectedly dawns…
Casting its first light on a chosen threshold.
A gentle knock..a closed door opens.
A sacred invitation sent by the Father..
Leads to the other side of the world.
Where lonely hearts stare out orphanage windows
Praying for someone to care..
And then one morning,
On an ordinary day
An orphan’s life changes...
God sends them a second chance...Through you..

--author unknown

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Harmony in a Single Step

I like to think we are about halfway through the time frame of this adoption. Already I'm forgetting details from the beginning so I need to write as much as I can before it leaves me and becomes replaced with more pressing matters.

Anyone who has adopted knows there is something highly spiritual about this process of bringing a child into your family from the other side of the world. It's mind boggling to think of all the details that have to fall into place in order for the new families to be formed. Not only are all the necessary connections made, and not only are we given the precious gift of a child to care for, but somehow we find that the child is perfect for our family, even in ways we could not have imagined.

It is my experience that this special magic happens when I am in complete agreement with my destiny. As I give up my feeble attempts to control my life, and give over to the flow of holiness in the universe, all my perceptions are altered slightly and I see and understand in ways that are only possible during the times I'm willing to cooperate completely with God.

There are many things I could do better, and many things I'm sure I leave undone everyday, but I am convinced that I'm doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing with my life. I may not be doing it well all the time, but a small, still voice reminds me I'm on the right track. Knowing this, however, does not eliminate an occasional trembling terror. I'm not always sure I can follow this road. I'm not always sure I'm up to the journey. I'm not always sure I'm worthy.

My older children still need me and I want to be there whenever they need me and in whatever capacity they need. But as soon as I start to worry about this, I remember how adopting Cami multiplied the love in our family. Her sweet presence brought us together in a special way. The older ones see themselves in her toddler antics and they get to see, as if in an old movie, the tireless patience and snuggling love I have for them too, even if they aren't so comfortable with the snuggling anymore. Seeing my six foot son fixing breakfast for Cami or my daughter home from college, not only painting Cami's toe nails pink, but then giving her the bottle to practice painting big sister's toe, are the kind of Hallmark moments we've seen alot more of this year!

Then sometimes is seems so small....... wiping sticky hands, cutting up apples into bite size pieces, picking up toys, waking up and putting to sleep, and all these little jobs are repeated day after day. It doesn't seem like much, but every once in a while I catch a glimpse of how much these simple things DO matter in the lives of little people. And there is peace in the harmony of a purposeful life, no matter how small my purpose, I'm connected with a greater plan.

And so we began. (We were home half a year in March.) Not to adopt exactly. But to prepare. Cami has had a wonderful year. She had her palate surgery in March and she's ready for her 3rd birthday and to start going to pre-school a couple mornings a week. She's learned English at lightening speed and surprises us daily with the connections she makes.

April brought many changes to International Adoption with new regulations under the Hague Agreement. To begin with, it changed the process of requesting permission to bring a child into the United States. During the last week in March, we made the decision to apply with the immigration department under the old rules while we still had the chance. We filed the petition with our government This was our first commitment to another adoption and it went flawlessly.

In April we were fingerprinted and we started working with our social worker on our homestudy. Even though nothing of significance had changed we had to prepare new documents and present proof once more that we are who we claim to be.

In May I followed the story of a little girl in foster care who had a form of spina bifida. She was so full of life and when I heard she might be available for adoption I tried to find her. Later I realized that while I wasn't supposed to adopt this child, she certainly was a teacher for me. Because of her, I began researching some of the types of spinal birth defects.

The rules for China Special Needs adoption changed. Many children were being listed on a large list shared by many agencies. It was puzzling to understand exactly how to proceed. We had instinctively, or by divine guidance, started out doing the most important assignments. It looked like China was expecting families to be paper ready before allowing them to commit to a child.

Our first plan was to finish our homestudy and sign on with one of the large, reputable Chinese agencies and wait to be matched with a child by their special needs department. This was our plan, but something kept me from completely following through with it. We filled out the paperwork, but we hesitated committing to them further.. I was put off by the answers I was given to the few questions I had.

The shared list rules kept changing. First you had to already have your dossier in China to petition for a child. Then you had to have it close to being ready. They gave some children a 3 month window and some only one month. We kept watching and waiting. We never actually saw the shared list, nor did we ever review a file from the shared list.

The second week in July I saw an email to a group I'm a member of announcing that an agency called ASIA had received their very own list of waiting/special needs children. Now since the shared listing began, lists of children specific to one agency were rare. This is the way we were matched with Cami and it felt very comfortable to me. But I waited two days before contacting ASIA.

When I wrote to them, I received a list of the children who were available. The list had no photos. It was date of birth and special need only. I emailed and asked if I could review the file of the little girl with tethered cord syndrome. About an hour later, I was sent the medical file on Dang Nan, and two pictures of a baby girl smiling.

I knew this was our daughter. I knew we had been led to this moment, to this place, because we were willing to be led. And I knew that everything would work out. Mark worked until midnight that night so I got up early the next morning to show him the pictures and the information. I think he knew her as a daughter quickly too, but he was worried about working out the financial details. It was about this time that I told him of a great quote I had heard. "Sometimes you have to jump and build your wings on the way down". He said this wasn't one of the smartest ideas he had ever heard. But...... we did it anyway.

And our wings have been built for us.

First, we had our International Adoption Pediatrician take a look at the files and paperwork. He had some questions and concerns for us. Ironically, not the obvious ones. In general he felt this child would have minimal complications from her birth defect. We requested an update and received it quickly. We also received the current photographs which show a laughing and healthy little girl.

Even as we are saying yes to the agency and scrambling to provide the first set of documents, our leap of faith was being rewarded. Mark received an offer unlike any he'd had before in his work. Within two days of our committing to adopt Dang Nan, Mark was contracted for enough work next year to help him feel confident that we could move forward.

During the first week of August our homestudy was approved by ASIA and we sent our Letter of Intent to China. Two weeks later we had our answer. China approved us to adopt Dang Nan. The first part of the miraculous story had come together. Something had shifted, in the world, and in our family, and in our hearts. And now we are working everyday to bring Delilah Dang Nan home.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Please Welcome
Delilah DangNan McInnis
into our family and into your heart.

Dang Nan was born July 18, 2006.
She is eleven months younger than Cami.
She is currently living in foster care
in Inner Mongolia.
The reports we received describe her as a lovely
and smart little girl. She knows her colors and
can make herself understood among children and adults.
The report says,
"the child grows more and more beautiful with two pigtails in her hair now".

I think we knew,
even while in China with Cami,
that we would return.
We didn't know when, or how, or for whom,
but when we were given a chance to review
Dang Nan's file,
we felt comfortable with her and drawn to her,
even before seeing her pictures.

And so already we start to love her,
and to make a space for her,
a special place in our family
in the shape of Delilah.