Monday, October 25, 2010

Pumpkin Patch & Princess Night

Sunday afternoon we took Liem and Lyla to Ranalli Farms to pick out pumpkins. Liem has been wanting to buy pumpkins for weeks! Lyla was so excited when she saw where we were going. A few weeks ago her class went on a field trip and they got to pick out a pumpkin at the end of the trip so she knew exactly where we were! The pictures say it all...


Tonight I took Lyla to Chick Fil A for Princess Night. She made a tiara, got her nails painted, went for a ride in a limo and ate dinner! She loved it and kept saying "fwain two (thank you) mommy for princess eat". She is precious and was so excited to wear her princess dress to dinner. She told all of the other little girls how cute they looked!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Lyla's Adoption Story

I can honestly say that I never wanted to be a mother of only one child. There is nothing wrong with families that only have one child, some of my best friends only have one...I always wanted a big family...always! When we adopted Liem on 1-22-03, I came to the realization that we would probably never be able to adopt again. That thought process was obviously my reasoning, not God's. I just assumed that we would not be able to adopt again since it is so expensive. For the past three or so years my heart has been heavy. I truly wanted another child. In 2007, I went through some major changes in my job. Long story short, 5 people in my office were let go (myself included) and we all grouped together and started a new insurance agency. We ended up in a lawsuit with my former employer. In March of 2009 I could tell that we would probably settle the lawsuit soon. This is when I began talking to Jeff about adopting again. He was open to it, but not sold. Over the next few months, we discussed options on what country, what gender, and what age. Jeff was adamant that he didn't want an infant again. He didn't want to go through diapers and formula again! I was open to anything, it didn't matter to me what country, or what age. We ended up settling our lawsuit and I received my settlement check on Friday, June 26, 2009.

June 26, 2009. A date that changed our lives forever! Not only did I receive my settlement check that day, but Jeff received the email below also...

We wanted to quickly circulate this e-mail because we have the opportunity of placing two very healthy six year old girls that are on a China special needs list because of their age. They are very bright and healthy and have had excellent orphanage and foster care to this point. Both are lovely girls with so much potential. These children need to be placed with families that are very motivated to move forward quickly and can finish the BCICS requirements and have a dossier completed within three months. Please let us know asap if you are interested in learning more about these beautiful girls. thank you!

We got immediate chills and were both in tears. Jeff never checks his work email when he gets home, but that Friday he wasn't in the office so he wanted to check it before we went to dinner. He looked at me and said what do you think? I said YES. Yes of course, this is God telling us that he is providing once again! We didn't need a photo, we didn't need any other info. He replied and told them that we were very interested but we had a huge dilemma. I wouldn't turn 30 until October 21, 2009 and our dossier had to be in China by the end of October. We emailed Marvin & Carol back and forth all weekend and spent time on the phone with them as well. We found out that my age wouldn't be a problem, Lifeline would be careful about when they sent our file to China so they could make sure I was 30 by the time it arrived. What a stressful & exciting weekend it was. I had already planned a weekend in Tulsa with my mom. It was so hard not telling her what was happening. She just thought that Jeff was bored and kept texting/emailing me all weekend! Little did she know, she was about to become a grandma again!! By Monday, July 29th, we had received Lyla's file with pictures and a video. We were in love immediately. They said she was outgoing, friendly and was ready for a home and a family! We immediately started our paperwork. We told our families on July 4th about Lyla! We gave each of them an envelope with a photo of her and a pink bubble gum cigar that said "It's a girl"! It took a few of them a minute to realize what was happening! Everyone was very excited to say the least! Like I've said before, we have the best support system for our children! There are so many people that love them!

The next milestone email came on October 31st (10 days after I turned 30):
Your dossier was logged-in on October 30th!  Karla

Life is good! We finished all of our paperwork and flew to China in February. We got Lyla on 2-22-10! Older child adoptions are WAY different than infants! I was stressed beyond belief in China! She was so excited to meet us! As soon as we were in the room to adopt her she ran out saying "mama, mama"! Immediate tears once again! In the beginning, she was not a fan of Liem. AT ALL! She didn't want him to be close to her, and did not want him to touch her, pat her, hold her hand, hug her. nothing. It made him sad, but my how times have changed! They love each other so much it is amazing! They were born to be together. He loves her today as much as he did the day we adopted her! I am so thankful for such an amazing family!

First Photo
The pics below are random pics from the day we met thru today

People ask us all the time if we are done adopting. I tell them that we are too young to say we are done. I will say that if we do adopt again then it will definitely be an older child. It is so rewarding, especially to see how far Lyla has come in the 7 months it has been since we adopted her. She looks like a whole new child! She is settled in and is really beginning to talk a lot! She is doing fairly well in school, but has a LONG way to go. Please continue to pray for her. This has been a hard transition for her. She is so far behind mentally and emotionally, but she has come so far already! I love this sweet princess so much! She is compassionate, beautiful, funny, clumsy as can be, dramatic, over the top, girlie girl. I can't imagine life without her. She has changed our family dynamic for the better! She has made us appreciate life so much more. I love you Princess Lyla!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Liem's Adoption Story

I've decided to post the adoption stories for both Liem and Lyla. I am starting with Liem, aka Wild Child #1! Sit down, this post will take a while!
Jeff and I were married in 1999 and knew that we wanted to be "young parents". So, we decided after one year of marriage that we would go ahead an try to start having kids. We did fertility treatments (pills & 2 in-vitro attempts) for 2 1/2 years. We did our first round of IVF in May 2002. I just knew that it would take and that I would be pregnant. Well, obviously it didn't work out and Jeff and I were both devastated. All of our friends were having families and we were hurt and confused. We decided to try IVF again and after the 2nd round, our doctor simply told us that our plan is not always what God wants. He continued to tell us that he felt it could be a dangerous pregnancy if I was ever to conceive. That day is when we started talking adoption. We both knew that we would adopt internationally, but we didn't know what country we would adopt from.

It seemed like everyone we talked to referred us to the same couple in Fayetteville that runs an adoption agency. We felt after 2 weeks of what seemed like everyone telling us, that we had to call Marvin & Carol. We called them and set up an appointment to talk with them. We reviewed their programs & Vietnam was the only one we qualified for since I was only 23 at the time. We applied with the agency in November of 2003 and got a call on December 13th that there is a little boy abandoned at the hospital and he is ours if his tests come back as healthy. They told us it would probably take 10 days to know for sure. On December 16th Carol called me back & said that he is ours! So, our whole "process" thus far had been 1 month. She asked if we wanted to see a picture & I said sure, but knew we didn't care what this child looked like. Below are the first pictures of Liem. He was born on November 30th 2002, so he was only a few weeks old!

We had a delimma...Vietnam was closing for adoptions on December 31st 2002. We had to finish our dossier and get all paperwork done and fly out of the country to be in Vietnam before the 31st. Jeff and I took off work and drove to Little Rock to get state seals, etc. We "expedited" everything that we could. We even had to call in for some reinforcements via our Representative John Boozman. It was the most stressful time ever! We managed to get everything done & were in Vienam on December 30, 2002. We drove down to Liem's town of Vinh the next day, saw him and "signed the book." We were the last people that signed the book that day. Technically, he was the last child out of Vietnam before the moratorium. Here are some pictures of the day we met him, wearing his beautiful PINK hat!!!

We didn't get to bring Liem home with us then. At the time, you were required to make 2 trips to Vietnam. We promised our facilitator that if he would get us back before their New Year, then we would bring him a camcorder. He came through for us! We were home for 2 short weeks and headed back to get our sweet baby boy! (Thanks to the help of Mike & Naomi, we finished the baby room just in time to leave for Vietnam again!) Our 2nd trip was very stressful. With Vietnam's adoption laws, a child must be 30 days old before he can be available for adoption. The day we signed the book for Liem, he was 30 days old. We told them that we came in hopes that a child would be there for us. They accused us of trying to steal him...I.was.devastated. Here I am in a hotel room in a 3rd world communist country with a 6 week old baby, no family with us and Jeff calls me to tell me that they won't let us have Liem. I remember so vividly being in that room with Liem and Lynn (wife of couple that traveled with us). We just held each other and cried. He and Ryan came back and we made some calls to Marvin back home (it was the middle of the night here). Marvin talked to the poeple he needed to & the next day we got a call that we can go home! The guys went and finished the paperwork and we packed our bags! We finished everything there as fast as we could & got earlier flights home!

Liem has been the most amazing blessing to EVERYONE that meets him! His smile is contageous, he loves people and people love him! He is beautiful (sorry sweet boy, but it is true), brilliant, funny, athletic, caring, compassionate, friendly, entertaining, a fabulous big brother and most of all he loves God! As I type this, I can't help but think that this November when he turns 8, he would be moved out of the orphanage in Vietnam and left on the streets. Boys there aren't allowed in the orphanage once they turn 8 years old. I love this sweet boy more than life itself & I am so blessed that he calls me mom!

If you are reading this, please please please consider adoption. It is the most rewarding experience you will ever have! There are approx 147 million orphans in the world that need homes. If you have questions or want more info please ask!