Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Learning how to LOVE (and be loved)



It's amazing what love can do.  Lily Grace has been with us for a month and a half, and home with the family for a month and she is truly continuing to blossom in our family.  Matt and I have been talking about how she seems to really be starting to feel comfortable with us and finding her place in our family.  When we first came home, people would ask me how her sisters felt about her and how she felt about her sisters.  I would respond "Her sisters absolutely LOVE her and she seems to like them too."  It was a little overwhelming to her at times for them to be in her face all the time, first thing in the morning and all.day.long.  But now when they run into her room in the morning and flip the light on, you see her face light up with a huge grin!  It makes my heart so happy!  She really does love them and enjoy their company!


It's a crazy thing, this bonding and attachment thing.  You can learn and read about it, but to see it actually happening is truly amazing!  I took for granted simple things with my other girls that I am relishing in with Lily Grace.  When we first came home with her, she wouldn't let us rock her and now she will let me rock her to sleep many nights.  This has been one of my most favorite things to do with all my girls.  The simple act of cradling her in our arms had to be learned for her.  She had to learn to trust us and feel comfortable enough to allow us to lay her back and cradle her.  She has also started to crawl over and sit in my lap on her own when we are on the floor playing.  This is something new in the past week or two.  For her to find comfort in my lap brings me joy in such a simple little act.  And last night for the first time, she laid her sweet little head on my should while I was holding her.  Y'all, I about lost it.  That sweet little head nestled on my shoulder just about did me in.  She is learning to feel safe and comfortable with her momma and daddy.  Our other girls knew this from the beginning.  It was just something they always knew.  They felt safe and secure with us always.  Lily Grace has and will have to continue to learn this.


What an unbelievable privilege to be her parents and teach her what safety and security and love feels like.  Family.  That's what we are.  She didn't have this for the first 14 months of her life.  She did have loving caretakers, don't get me wrong.  I am so very grateful for the care she received.  I don't doubt that the nannies cared for her.  But when you are caring for many many babies you just don't have the time to snuggle and rock and just be.  It was busy and task oriented and yes, they did fun things I'm sure, but it was always on a schedule.  I am so grateful for time to just rock and sit and play and hug and snuggle and tickle and laugh.  I give her so many kisses all day!  I try to make up for the months of kisses she missed.  We love kissing the little flat bridge of her nose.  It's just the sweetest.  And when she leans over to give us those little fishy kisses back. There is just nothing better.  And to see our big girls loving her is just the best.


So we are all learning together.  Learning how to love each other better and journey through this attachment and bonding process.  It isn't always easy or simple.  But it is so worth it.  And I am realizing that I am also having to learn how to be loved by God.  Our love for Lily Grace and Taylor and Madelyn, while it is a great love, pales in comparison to God's love for me and you.  I can't fathom it.  I realize as I'm watching Lily Grace learn how to trust us and let us love and care for her that I am having to learn the same thing.  I need to learn how to trust God's love and perfect plan for my life.  How to learn to lean into Him and feel the security of His love.  The things the Lord continues to teach me through our journey with Lily Grace are amazing.  I am so grateful for His patience and love for each of us.  What a phenomenal journey it has been and I can't wait to see where it continues to go from here.  This little girl has taught me to enjoy the little things in life.  To appreciate every little act of togetherness.  We are learning more and more about this togetherness and family thing day by day and I'm blessed to be along for the ride!





Thursday, August 31, 2017

One month in our arms. . .


Happy one month Gotcha Day Anniversary, Lily Grace!  One month ago today (well the 30th, but I'm not officially in bed yet ;) ) you were placed in our arms forever!  Wow, you are the perfect addition to our family.  It feels so right and beautifully designed by our loving Father for you to be with us and we love you so!



We have felt so loved by our little tribe of family and friends.  We had the sweetest reunion with our family at the airport!  We were so happy to be home after a complete 24 hours of traveling.  Lily Grace did decently on the flight from China.  The flight was 15 hours and 40 min and we had a bonus 1 hour delay on the runway before we even took off.  The flight was full.  We all had colds.  The first 4-5 hours were pretty dicey but after that she did pretty great!  Then we arrived in Newark and we had to go through customs.  The customs officer towards the end was pretty rude (maybe not as rude as I'm remembering bc I was so tired and ready to be home) and basically told us (incorrectly) that Lily Grace was not a US citizen upon arriving on US soil.  I argued and nicely (ha!) explained that we were told at the consulate that some people would incorrectly tell us this information and he continued to argue.  Long story short I cried after we left him and Matt called the manager and he later apologized for the officers actions.  Definitely happy to have that trip behind us.  



When we arrived home our house was full of groceries from our family.  We had all the supplies we needed.  We also had the sweetest welcome home sign from our neighbors with matching PJs for the girls!  Our Sunday School class at church threw us a diaper and wipes shower so we are stocked up on those for the next few months which is amazing!  We have had so many people praying for us and checking in as we transition.  We are just incredible grateful for the love we have been shown.

Thank you Erin and Mandie! :)

Our amazing Sunday School class!


We have finally settled into a routine (that is until I get back from maternity leave) as a family of five.  Jet lag is being us, praise the Lord!  That was terrible.  I may be being dramatic but it felt dramatic.  Around 3pm or so Matt and I would get sooo tired and a nap would sound so good.  Just a tiny one, 30 minutes, that's all.  So we would give in, wake up and BAM!  Horrible feeling, terrible hit-by-a-truck, nauseated, headache feeling when you wake up.  Word to the wise. If you are trying to recover from jet leg. . . DON'T LET THE NAPS WOO YOU!!  Luckily after about a week we were good to go.  I say we, as in Matt and I.  Lily Grace and her teething, cold catching self still would be up some nights.  And when I say up, I don't mean newborn up that just lets you hold them and rock them to sleep.  I mean toddler up.  Like I'm gonna cruise around this joint at 1-3am and eat and play.  Yikes!  But I'm happy to report (fingers crossed) we have been in a good streak now and she seems to be following in her sisters' good sleeping footsteps.  The poor girl has had 5 or 6 new teeth (mainly molars) come in since we have been home.  So that doesn't help the sleeping situation. 


Taylor wanted them to all pose with a bow! ;)

She loves bath time!

We have had so many adventures as a family together in the last month.  Many just every day adventures, but adventures none-the-less.  Lily Grace has been to our neighborhood pool, church, Abuelos (for Mexican!), walked to school with us to pick up and drop off Taylor, and had her first few doctor appointments.  I would say she is handling everything very well!




Church with Naly


We traveled to Nashville last Monday for Lily Grace's International Adoption Clinic Appointment at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.  At first we thought it would be cool to be there during the eclipse, but whoa, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into!  Hotels were booked solid and the few that were available were going for $800/night!   Luckily I have friends in the area and my uncle was able to get us a place to stay close by in Franklin (Uncle Richard for the win!).  And by the grace of God, we didn't hit any bad eclipse traffic!  We took all the girls and surprised Taylor with a trip the the American Girl Store.  She was such a huge help taking care of Madelyn while we were in China and we wanted to do something special for her.  She was really excited!  We also got to meet some of my very best friends for dinner!  That was a special treat to see them and introduce Lily Grace to them!  The appointment went well and Lily Grace seems to be right on target for where they would expect her to be.  We have a couple things to follow up (minor) on but all and all we feel incredibly blessed!   The lab draw took some time and we didn't know if we would make it out to see the eclipse or not, but NICU nurse to the rescue and we had about 7 minutes to spare!  I was amazed by God's amazing creation.  I teared up as it grew dark and everyone cheered.  What a sight to witness.  We won't talk about how I was concerned for a couple of days that I might have damaged my vision for looking up for 3 secs during totality.  (All is well by the way!)  




A little Shiaman Island reminising!

Getting ready for the eclipse!






So we are doing well!  Are things perfect? No.  Are we still adjusting? Absolutely.  Matt and I are learning to navigate our time between three kids and still keep each other as priorities and then there are jobs and homework and extracurricular activities and laundry and everything else in life.  So it can be a little nutty at times.  But we are loving our family.  We can see Lily Grace blossoming in our family with each day.  When we first got her and first at home she would hit her head against the wall or the floor as sort of a self soothing, and I realized she hasn't done that in a week or two.  We are still working on a bit of a biting issue ;)  It's hard when all sorts of teeth are coming in.  But that is improving.  She let's me rock her to sleep some/most nights now which she wouldn't even come close to letting us do in the beginning.  And I cherish the times I get to rock my girls.  She is coming so far in such a short period of time!  It is truly amazing what a loving home can do for these little ones! Matt and I think and talk about all the kids we met while we were in China and from families we know all the time.  The have my heart.  These kids amaze me.  They just absolutely undo me.  What a privilege to know and love them.  I don't even know how we are so blessed to be a part of such a story.  The Lord is so good to us.  



Kisses for Maddie!

The girl loves to climb


Here are some of the things she has learned and loves:
-Mama
-Dada
-Bye bye! and to wave
-Hi!
-Clapping
-Splashing in the bath
-Giving kisses and blowing kisses
-Climbing on everything (the orphanage staff warned us about this!)
-Walking across the room (started out with 4-5 steps at a time when we got her)
-phones/remotes
-yogurt (who knew since they told us in China she had to avoid this!)
-All carbs! (That's our girl!)

Tonight we celebrated our 1 month Gotcha Day Anniversary with Muddy's cupcakes!  Happy 1 month in our arms sweet Lily Grace YaXuan Wallace!  Here is to forever in our arms and family!



These big girls just adore their little sister!




Saturday, July 29, 2017

To Lily Grace on the eve of Gotcha Day...

It seems surreal to be typing this, but in just over 24 hours your daddy and I will be meeting you for the first time and our adventure together will begin. Tonight will be the last night you sleep in your crib in the orphanage. Tomorrow will be the last morning you wake up to the familiar faces who have cared for you for the first almost 15 months of your life. You will be leaving everything you know and be traveling to an unknown place and given to two people who you have never met.  I can't imagine how scary the day must seem to you. So many new experiences.  So much unfamiliarity and scariness.

But what I hope you feel sooner rather than later is the love and security that we want you to know! We have loved you since we first saw your picture on Good Friday and your daddy looked across the table to me with tears in his eyes and said, "That's our girl!".  I know it may take awhile for you to fully grasp the love we have for you. You are so loved, little one! So many have prayed for you! The Lord knew from the beginning that you would be part of our family and has already been knitting you into the hearts of each of us.  Your sisters are so excited to meet you!  Your grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and so many others are waiting for the day they can meet you too!  You are already apart of our family.

We want to you to know how much Jesus loves you too! He has a beautiful and wonderful plan for your life.  We are so excited to share with you everything He has done to care for you along the way.  His works are miraculous and amazing and we can't wait to see what life has in store for you!  He has already used you to teach us so much about His Grace and provision along our journey to you.  Our trust in Him is so much deeper because of you.  You have already been such a gift and we haven't even met you!

So sleep tight, little one.  It's going to be a wild ride!  We don't even know what we are going to feed you! ;) Tomorrow you will be an orphan no longer.  Tomorrow you will have a momma and daddy and two sisters who can't wait to meet you. Tomorrow, Lily Grace Ya Xuan, is finally the end of our wait and the beginning of a lifetime of love and memories together!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

We're going to CHINA!!!

What a week this has been!  We found out on Monday that our Article 5 was finally completed and sent on to the CCCWA to await issue of our Travel Approval (TA).  Travel Approval is needed before flight and necessary appointments in country are allowed to be booked and is the last step in the long list of our paper chase process.  We were so grateful for the hoopla of the Article 5 to be behind us.  We still don't know what was adjusted that lead to the issuing but in the end it doesn't matter to us as long as we are one step closer to Lily Grace.

So we felt like we were back in the game again!  We could look at dates and begin to make more solid plans for travel, the girls at home, etc.  There is A LOT that goes into not just traveling across the world to bring home a child but also leaving two little ones home that are starting preschool and Kindergarten for the first time while we are away!  (Also a doggie who needs to be cared for!)  We have an amazing family and village that is coming together to help us with this huge endeavor.  I can't even begin to express how amazing each of these people are!  We will never be able to express our gratitude!

So we decided if we could get Travel Approval (TA) soon enough we would try and leave next week (yes we are crazy!) so as to get to Lily Grace ASAP and get home to not miss as much of Taylor's start of Kindergarten.  If not, we hoped we could at least travel the following week on 8/2.  So today we were out running many errands with the girls and I called our agency to ask a question.  During my phone call another number from the agency beeped in.  I flashed over and it was our Agency contact and she said, "I just wanted to let you know that your TA is in the system!"  Yikes!  Crazy!  Praise the Lord!  That was a quick turn around like we prayed for.  She initially suggested we wait until 8/2 to travel but after hearing our thoughts she agreed that we could try for leaving NEXT WEDNESDAY!!!


YALL WE ARE GOING TO CHINA NEXT WEEK!!!  HOLY MOLY!  Well, pending a few other things, but we booked airline tickets today.  So we are kind of in crazy mode right now.  I have all the feels.  I'm getting weapy thinking about how grateful I am for all of you.  How amazing the Lord is and how perfect His timing really is.



And to top it off, as if we even needed any more amazing news today, the Lord in His infinitely loving and grace giving way, orchestrated our goal for our matching grant to be matched today!  I can't even talk about it without getting choked up.  Y'all, that is the Lord!  We don't deserve this and we give Him all the glory and hope to use Lily Grace's story to show many others His love.  We still have puzzle pieces available but it is filling up quickly.  As I write the names on her puzzle pieces, I am humbled by the incredible people He has knitted into our lives.  This will be such a treasure!


So pray for us these next few days (and weeks!).  Pray that plans come together.  That we have the calm minds to remember all that needs to happen for China.  That we get everything we need planned for Taylor and Madelyn at home.  For our parents who will be watching the girls for us while we are gone.  For first days of preschool and Kindergarten to go well without us!  For the friends and family that will help with our dog, house, and entertaining the girls while we are away (watch out you might be receiving a call!).  And for Lily Grace, who's world is about to be rocked.  Thank you for loving us so well!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Overwhelmed

So here we are, just still waiting on our Article 5 pick up.  Yikes, this is no fun!  Over a 3 week delay at this point and still waiting.  We are doing everything possible to "speed" the process along.  Including making phone calls to China in the middle of the night (working hours their time) to discuss the logistics of where information is listed in medical files, etc., etc. and then relaying the correct information back to all other necessary parties.  It feels like a giant game of telephone, except each step is delayed by 12 hours due to the time change.  But that's what you do for your kids right?  You stay up until all hours of the night doing what you need to do to take care of them.  No matter if it costs over $2/min to talk on the phone, just to have a chance to convince the person on the other end to re-look at the information that he already has to make a decision that will allow you to move on to Travel Approval and fly halfway across the world to bring your baby girl home.  It feels desperate sometimes.  And then I remember. . . God's got this.  He knew this would happen.  He is not surprised and He is not desperate.  So I place my confidence in Him.  Not in our government, or China's government who seem to be so difficult and slow to respond. The Lord can change our cirmumstances at any given moment.  So I just trust in Him and His timing.

Amazing shirt my Aunt Linda found at the beach!
Lily Grace has her own brand! :)
Meanwhile, in God's amazing grace and provision, we found out that we have received a $2500 matching grant through Lifesong for Orphans and funded by our wonderful church, Faith Baptist Church in Bartlett, TN!  Wow, what an amazing blessing!  We are hoping to raise $2500 and then the grant will match with another $2500.  Such a tangible way the Lord has continued to show His presence and encouragement to us throughout this journey.  Our total adoption expenses will end up around $38,000 when all is said and done so this will certainly help ease some of the burden towards the end which seems to be so expensive.
This is the puzzle for "Pieces of Love for Lily Grace"

To raise the funds, we are selling puzzle pieces for a 262 piece puzzle that will be displayed in a double sided frame in Lily Grace's room.  We are calling our fundraiser "Pieces of Love for Lily Grace" and each piece is $10.  We will write the names of each person on the back of the puzzle piece it represents so we can tell her about the many family and friends who have encouraged, supported and prayed for her and our family along this journey.  We are off to a great start!  About 33% of the pieces have been claimed!  We can not say thank you enough!  

Would you consider purchasing a piece for $10 for your family, each child,
grandchild or special person in your life?
I was not prepared for how overwhelmed I would be to see the names represented on the puzzle pieces.  As I look at the names, I am reminded about how good God is too us.  He has placed so many amazing people in our lives.  We have seen Him work in so many of your stories.  We have seen Him bring children into families who waited so long for them,  He has shaped us as parents through encouragement and friendship from you, He has brought you into our lives to share and carry our adoption worries and struggles, and He continues to show up in the amazing plans He has in each of your lives.  I am beyond humbled for myself and my family to be surrounded by such amazing family, friends, coworkers, adoption family, and church members!  If you would like a piece, you can donate to https://mystory.lifesongfororphans.org/stories/bringing-home-lily-grace/ or send a check payable to "Lifesong for Orphans" with "Wallace 7071" in the memo to ensure the money goes to the correct account.  The check can be mailed to Lifesong for Orphans, PO Box 40, Gridley, IL 61744.


We so appreciate all the support, prayers and well wishes we continue to receive.  A huge prayer request is that the US Consulate would receive the clarification they want in order to issue our Article 5 so we can continue to Travel Approval.  If you could pray for this we would be so grateful!  And continue to pray for Lily Grace's safety until we arrive!  We just want to get to our girl!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Delayed. . .




Well we are still awaiting the pick up of our Article 5 from the United States Consulate in Guagzhou, China.  It was supposed to be ready on June 22nd but it could not be picked up.  After some "research" we found out that there is some discrepancy in the medical paperwork and one of our required files.  Due to the discrepancies, the  Consulate is requiring the CCCWA (China Adoption Agency) to clarify before they will issue the Article 5.  At this point I believe it is all a matter of semantics and paperwork issues and we are just at the mercy of when someone decides to get the paperwork completed. Of course, I really have no idea what the true problem is and who all is involved and if the Consulate will be satisfies with the additional information they received.  Again, we find ourselves in a position where we have no control and must just sit back and allow God to do His thing.  When I found out we were delayed I said, "OK Lord, we've done this once, I can do this again."  And I have found myself much calmer this time-most definitely a God thing!  I won't lie, it is disheartening to see families who received their approval the day we should have, receiving Travel Approval, booking flights and hotels, etc.  But I know it will all work out in the Lords timing.

A friend at work who has been through the adoption process sent me this quote and I love it!  So true and such great perspetive!

It's a weird feeling for our timeline to be completely out the window now.  I had so many dates planned in my head.  Everything was worked out perfectly and with my plans we would be to China and back home the week before Taylor started Kindergarten.  But again, the Lord had to put me in my place and remind me that my plans really don't matter and it's all about His plan in this situation and in our lives.  He needs no help.  He created the world and everything in it.  He brings orphans into families and beautifully redeems their story and our lives when we invite Him in.  So He doesn't need little ole me to figure out the timing for Him.  I also realized that I was so inwardly focused on our trip and this adoption that I was doing a terrible job of looking around at this world of hurting people I encounter every day.  It's a good reminder that just because our lives get busy, we still need to seek out opportunities to love on others who need encouragement and prayer each and every day.


On a fun note, our care package for Lily Grace arrived safely to China and should be at her Orphanage today!  It's crazy to think that she may be seeing pictures of our faces for the very first time!  We have known her for two and a half months and she has had no idea.  Even though she is too young to truly comprehend, it is so amazing to think about her seeing the faces of her momma and daddy and sisters and grandparents and family that already love her so much!  Even her doggy, Peyton!  I pray that the orphanage receives the package safely and shares the items with her and takes pictures for us! Matt and I both have been wondering how they sleep at night at the orphanage.  We talked about it last night.  Does a nanny sleep in the room with all the babies in the cribs?  Do they stay awake?  Is anyone even in the room with them?  So many questions and so many unknowns but we hope the time comes soon when we won't have to worry about all of those things and she will be home safe and sound with us.

Taylor talks about Lily Grace all the time!  She is quite the budding artist and always drawing pictures of our family.  She never draws a picture anymore without Lily Grace.  This is a picture she drew the other day of Lily Grace in China (to the left with the China flag) and the rest of us in the US (on the right with the American flag).  At the bottom is the airplane that we are going on to get her.  I love that the Lord is working on her heart to prepare her for Lily Grace's arrival!  Madelyn on the other hand. . . we shall see!  She is pretty possessive these days in her 3 year old way and continues to talk about "her crib" and "her room". . . so that should be fun.  ;)



Matt and I just celebrated our 8th Wedding Anniversary last week.  We were able to go out dinner and spending some time together- something that will surely be a rarity soon!  I found this picture and it's rare to have pictures of just the two of us together without kiddos!  Who would have known what adventures awaited us on this day 8 years ago!  The Lord has blessed us indeed!


Pray with us that the paperwork in our Article 5 would be resolved quickly.  This week will be two weeks that is has been delayed.  Pray that the CCCWA submits the paperwork that the Consulate requested and it would be enough to resolve the discrepancies.  Also pray that once it is completed that we receive our Travel Approval quickly and we can book flights without too much of a price hike.  (Tickets to China two weeks out from travel is not cheap!)  And pray for Lily Grace.  That she is safe until we get her.  That her nannies are caring for her and loving her until we can be there to care for her.  Thank you friends for being a part of our journey.  We hope to have good news soon!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Lily Grace updates!

Y'all!! We got our update from Lily Grace's orphanage and we are just more in love every day!  She looks to be doing great!  We were able to send 10 questions to have answered as well as requesting photos and videos and we are pretty happy with the information we received.  Sometimes the questions aren't answered well and there are times when you may not receive videos but we got 3!  She is so dang cute!  I find myself doing the same things I did with Taylor and Madelyn when I was pregnant with them and they were born.  I remember looking at the expiration dates of the cheese when I was grocery shopping and getting excited when I started buying cheese that was at or past my due date.  I did the same thing once we had a pretty good idea of general travel time for Lily Grace and we are way past that mark!! ;)  The next step is looking for the expiration dates on the milk.  Am I the only crazy one that did/does that stuff?  Oh well. . . I also found myself counting her fingers and toes in all the pictures and commenting on her long feet and toes (my other girls had short chubby feet!).  She also looks like she might have some flat feet like her daddy!  Many of the things I did with Taylor and Madelyn, I am doing when we get new pictures of Lily Grace to soak up!



Also, some of the information is just something so sweet and we will cherish forever.  For instance, they said she loves to climb (yikes!) and seems to have no fear.  This sounds like her cousins!  They have not found anything that she is afraid of.  They also referred to her as an "active and naughty girl". . . I LOVE IT! Maybe not in high school but we have time to work on that! They also mentioned the name of her favorite friend which is just so amazing to know and be able to tell her as she grows up.  I'm pretty sure he is in one of the videos.  We were also happy to hear that she sleeps through the night. . . And all God's people said "Amen"!  Let's not let that Wallace child trend end!


We are so close to bringing her home and this new update just makes us more and more anxious to get to China and get our girl!  Our Article 5 pick up is scheduled for next Thursday and if all goes well with that, the only thing we will be waiting on is TRAVEL APPROVAL about a week or so later (fingers crossed).  Holy cow, we are close!  A little over a month away!



We are sending off her care package to her orphanage tomorrow.  We have included an outfit, a panda lovey, a beanie baby, a small toy, her photo album of her family, and a flash drive and camera with hopes to receive more pictures and videos of her first year.  There is no guarantee that the package will make it to her or that she will receive it so we have duplicates of most items.  We just want to start loving on our girl!


Lily Grace's care package!

Pray that the rest of the process continues to proceed smoothly.  Pray that Lily Grace stays safe until we can get to China and get her.  Pray for the precious nannies and caretakers who are filling in the gaps and caring for these sweet babies and children.  Pray for the many sweet families we have met along the way through this adoption process.  Some are just at the beginning, some are right where we are, some are about to meet their children, some have been home a short time and are in the trenches and some have been home for awhile but each of them hold such a special place in my heart!  Thank you for your love and support for our family!