Monday, December 17, 2012

Merry Christmas from our Table to Yours!

Merry Christmas from the McClintocks!

Wow, 2012 has been full of adventure and the day-to-day joys of being an expat.  Thank you for taking the time to read about our family and to cheer us on!

In case you were wondering how to say a few Chrismas-related words in Chinese, here is a quick lesson for you...

Merry Christmas  = Sheng dan kuai le (pronounced: shang dan kwhy luh)
Happy New Year = xin nian kuai le (pronounced: sheen nee-an kwhy luh)
Father Christmas = sheng dan lao ren (pronounced: shang dan laow rin, literally translates: Christmas old people!)
turkey = huo ji (pronounced huwoah gee, literally translates: fire chicken!)

By the way, the picture below is the one that didn't make the cut for this year's Christmas card!

My favorite part is the 4-year-old that
had to literally be pulled into the photo
on the bean bag chair.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

30 Days, 30 Posts: Adoption...We've Reached the Finish Line

We have made it; we've reached the 30-day finish line!  Thank you so much for following along on this journey with me.  I hope you've learned something and maybe had a bit of fun along the way too.

When we were getting ready to move to China I knew that there was an adoption community waiting for us (at our first playdate in Suzhou the adoptive mamas or future adoptive mamas out-numbered the non-adoptive mamas).  But I had only "met", if meeting by email counts, one person.  That one person was Michelle Maple and it seems fitting to end this month's series with her family's story.

Some day our families will meet again in Central Illinois, probably at a McDonald's, and watch our China babies play and eat french fries.  Enjoy Michelle's story!

My name is Michelle Maple and I'm just an ordinary person blessed by extraordinary children.  My husband and I met and married nearly 18 years ago (another extraordinary blessing) and have had some amazing adventures over the years.  In college I took an Asian Civilization class and LOVED it...Dr. Perez left an impression!  I loved it so much that I took the second course which was not a required credit and my enthusiasm was contagious...Matthew also took both classes. This class planted a idea...a dream!  We wanted to move to China one day...we didn't want to just vacation we actually wanted to move to China and take up residence for awhile.  We knew God had a daughter for us in China.  We began praying about this.  If we truly had a daughter in China God would lead us to the East...

Before we were even out of college Matthew landed an internship at a major manufacturing company.  It wasn't a job teaching english in China!  Then came Luke...then came Jack...then came major post~part-um!  Matthew and I made a very tough decision, we decided we should not have any more children.  I was terrified of the post~part-um as it was not  anything I ever wanted to risk having again!  Sadly this was devastating as our hearts were still open, ready, waiting and wanting more...  We continued to "remind" God about our prayer and our daughter.  In 2005 Matthew was approached and asked if he would consider relocating with the company for a different job!  Yahoo, this is it, God has heard us and He is telling us our daughter is ready!!!  But the job was in North Carolina...  We were definitely disappointed, we just knew we were going to China to get our girl.

In 2007 the boys were 8 and 9 and life with them was so diapers, no midnight feedings, no tantrums, etc!  Our family was complete and that was ok, we were blessed beyond words with two amazing boys and life was great.  You can't miss what you don't have, right?  In late 2007 God answered our prayers with a job offer...IN CHINA!  But now it was too late, God I'm sorry but you waited too long to send us to China, we are old the boys are 8 and 9 and we are passed the baby stuff.  I guess like so many things we felt like we were once again a day late and a dollar short.  But we weren't sad we were still very excited to move to China...with the news came many people looking at us like we were crazy!  We had shared our dream with many of our close friends and family!  We quickly said we would not be adopting because it was simply too late, we were too old to start over! :-)

We packed up our life leaving the baby things in storage, selling the crib, the stroller, the play pen and the bouncy baby things and moved half way around the world!  Well you know where this is all headed...on August 27, 2009 we brought our beautiful baby girl home!  After all those years of waiting and wondering we knew why we had to wait so long, she simply wasn't ready.  Ironically she was born in late December of 2007 when we first learned of the opportunity in China...little did we know the seed God was sowing.

As much as this would make the end of a very beautiful story it didn't end here.  In November of 2010 Matthew came to me and said "it's time!"  I asked "for what?"  Matthew was ready to another daughter he felt God had one more for us...I was not so sure.  It reminded me of Luke and Jack, you know we got Luke he was so stinking cute and perfect we needed another and bam we had two boys 17 months apart!  I said Kate is perfect and our family is perfect and complete!  In December he came to me again and this time I could see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice so I conceded and we began the journey to daughter #2!  She joined our family one month later...  It doesn't usually work that way but when God is in control and you submit to His plan instead of your own...anything is possible!

Our journey through adoption not once but twice was incredibly difficult and I often look back and wonder how we did it, how we survived it...  Then I look around my house and I know...because it was all a part of the plan.  One funny and interesting note is that our family has recently repatriated and our things from storage arrived a couple weeks ago...the girls love the baby toys we packed up in storage! :-)  They've been a real hit while we wait for all of our other toys from China to arrive...  Maybe, just maybe that was even a part of the plan!

Don't miss a thing! Follow the entire 30 Days, 30 Posts: Adoption series

Saturday, December 1, 2012

30 Days, 30 Posts: Adoption...A Foster Mother Visit

I can thank Suzhou, China for bringing together today's guest writer and me. Although we are expats together in China, I actually knew of Becky before we moved.  She and her family were a mentor family to friends of ours in the US.  Both families used the same agency for their adoptions.  I'm so glad to be enjoying this overseas adventure with Becky!

Becky and her husband, Dan, have adopted three children from Korea.  Recently they were able to return to Korea and visit their children's foster mothers.  Becky first shared the story of their visit with their agency's newsletter and now she is sharing it with my blog.  Enjoy!

From Becky:
Since the day we met our oldest son in Korea, we hoped that we could one day return and again thank his foster mother for the love and care she gave him in his first precious months of life. Almost eleven years later, we had the pleasure of traveling to Korea with not only our oldest son Andrew, but also our son Nathan and daughter Erin, who were both adopted from Korea as well.

After notifying Eastern Child Welfare Agency of our travel arrangements, they planned a meeting with all three of our children and their foster mothers. We arrived at Eastern for a lunch with the other families visiting from Australia and the United States, all of us excited and nervous to become reacquainted with the foster mothers. When it was the time for our meeting, we were led into a room where our foster mothers were waiting, all three having arrived early.

We were not prepared for how much love the foster mothers had carried with them all these years. These wonderful women who had cared for our children could remember every picture we sent and all the details of what the children were like when they were babies.

Through a very busy translator, our kids were able to tell the foster mothers about themselves and they were able to ask about each foster mothers' own children. We found out that all three foster mothers have retired from fostering and that they never forgot about any of the children they fostered. There was joy in their eyes as we told them of some of our kids’ accomplishments, they looked like proud grandparents.

The three women were very curious how Korean culture had been incorporated into the kids lives, even asking if the kids had learned to speak Korean. While the only memories my kids have of their early days in Korea are from photos, they quickly developed a bond with these loving women. After endless photographs and countless hugs, we found ourselves at the end of the reunion. What I didn't expect were the tears shed over saying goodbye again, not all that different than when we picked the kids up as babies.

Reuniting with our children's foster mothers was one of the sweetest moments we have experienced as parents. We originally assumed the visit would be a one-time opportunity, but since returning home, we can't wait to do it again!

Don't miss a thing! Follow the entire 30 Days, 30 Posts: Adoption series