Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Finally...a great family photo!

Since bringing Emma home last summer, we have not been able to get a great family photo. I just have random ones taken here and there. We went to my brother's house in Rochester, NY for Thanksgiving and I had my sister-in-law, Tressa, take some pictures for us. She is professional photographer so I finally got what I wanted! Now to print and frame!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Paper Pregnency Has Officially Begun!

Since we have decided to move forward without an agency, I started gathering as much information as possible on the process. I have been making so many new friends. They have been so helpful and encouraging. I feel like I have the dossier process for Rwanda pretty under control. It helps already knowing the lingo. Last week I began ordering a few certificates and filling out some paperwork. It is so hard not to just jump in with both feet. I am trying to hold back as much as I can but you know me. Once I have my mind made up, I have to jump!

We are continuing to pray that the funds for the adoption (that are so generously being given to us) will be available by January. From what we are hearing from agencies and other families, the process is going to most likely slow down before it speeds back up. Where have we heard that before? HAHA A representative from AWAA told me that there is a large increase in the number of dossiers they are receiving (it went from 1-2 adoptions a year to 17 in 2008. this year will probably be much larger) and the Ministry is not hiring any additional staff to process them. They are also still fine tuning their process which can increase the wait. So, we are getting as much of the dossier ready as we can so that when the time comes we can do a quick home study, medical exams and the USCIS fingerprints. This will hopefully allow us to get our dossier to Rwanda pretty fast. I hate the thought of all this time being wasted.

Great news for the families who recently received referrals. Most of them have posted today that they have passed their court date. This means that the adoption is actually already final! They are now allowed to post photos of their children on their blogs for the world to see! If you would like to see some adorable faces, check out that blogs on the side under Rwanda Adoption Blogs. Hopefully, in about a year it will be our turn!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Going It Alone!

I have been doing a lot of research on Rwandan adoption. I am finding it much harder to get answers than with Chinese adoptions. There just aren't as many people out there doing it. I'm thinking that once we go through this process I need to become the Rwandan version of the Rumor Queen.

The biggest thing that I have learned about Rwandan adoption is that the country actually prefers to work directly with the families. There are no agencies licenced in Rwanda. The agencies with Rwanda pilot programs are just facilitating. Other than piece of mind...which is worth a lot in international adoption...there really is no big reason to have an agency work for you in Rwanda.

I have been on several blogs and forums talking with people who have gone through the process on their own and they have said that it is completely doable and actually preferred by the government. You simply complete your dossier, do a home study, file with USCIS and send everything to Rwanda. Then, you hire a Rwandan power of attorney and lawyer to handle everything on the ground there. Sounds pretty simple after having gone through the China process.

So, we are going to give it a try. It will save us thousands of dollars and hopefully make the process move a bit faster.

Here we go!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rwanda Referrals This Week!!

This week several families received their long awaited referrals from Rwanda. I think there are about 8-9 families who have received referrals from America World. I have links to several of them on the side of the blog. The top several under Rwanda Blogs just received referrals. Check out their great stories!

It just brought such joy to my heart and tears to my eyes reading all of their stories. This time around I know Exactly how they feel when they describe hitting refresh on their computers 100 times a day and finally...finally...having THE email! I know exactly what is spinning through their minds when they say..."We saw his/her face!" "He/She is perfect!" "We are soooo in love!" OH what a fabulous day! What rejoicing in Heaven! They will never ever forget that moment and feeling! The only thing that tops it is the day you actually get to HOLD that precious little child.

The way that it works in Rwanda is that you are sent a referral directly from the ministry in Rwanda. No going through the agency first. The families then have to wait for some paperwork and a court date in Rwanda. Once the court date happens, it is my understanding, that the adoption is final. At that point, you can freely post photos of your child on your blog for the world to see. Right now all these families are able to email photos to friends and family and hang them in every room of the house (I can guarantee this has happened in every one of these house holds already this week.)

HAPPY DAY to all these families!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bellies Are Growing

I have been thinking so much about Jack's birth mother lately.

Let's just say we are able to start the process in January and the 12-15 month time frame is still in place. That would put our travel sometime in the winter of 2011. That means that if Jack is 12 months old when we get him he is already conceived and would be born sometime this winter. We all know that time lines are in constant flux with international adoption but I can't help but think about this right now.

I think that the reason I have been thinking about her so much lately is because we have several friends who are pregnant and due between February and April of 2010. Whenever I am with them, I can't help but think about how old she is and how much her belly has grown. I am watching my girlfriends go through pregnancy and it seems like I am seeing Jack's birth mother at the same time. It is so awesome to have this visual connection to her. I also love the fact that Jack will already have little buddies waiting for him his same we already know is a boy!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Red Guard and Interahamwe

Those of you who really know me will be amazed at the fact that I have read 2 books in a week. Crazy! They have been 2 fantastic books that I just couldn't put down even when Emma was crawling all over me. I know...I'm horrible.
I must be honest that I don't know an incredible amount about Rwanda and the genocide. I watch Hotel Rwanda when it came out and cried through the entire thing but that was pretty much all that I knew about the country.
When we started the process to adopt Emma from China, I devoured every book I could get my hands on about Chinese culture, adoption, women, history, foot binding, the Cultural Revolution, etc. It was the only thing that I could do over the 2 years of waiting that made me feel like I was connecting to her and her birth family. I also wanted to be able to have a clear understanding of how things in China had gotten to where they are today. Reading the struggles of Chinese women made me have such love for Emma's birth mother. It made me feel like I could understand where she may be coming from or what may have led her to the point of placing Emma at the gate of the Xinyu Orphanage.
I want to be able to have that same connection to Jack's country and his birth family. So, I am trying to educate myself as much as possible on Rwanda, its history, and its people. This is difficult, however, since just about every book out there is about the genocide in 1994. I just don't know how many books I can read about this. I read about a lot of horrible things that took place during the Cultural Revolution in China but I don't think I can handle this in such volume. The details are just horrendous.
While reading, "Left to Tell," I found several similarities between the Cultural Revolution and the Genocide.
1. The radio was full of propaganda fed by the government.
2. The president of Rwanda was convinced that any Tutsi with family outside of Rwanda must be collaborating with the rebels. This is just like Mao saying that anyone with connections to foreign countries was considered a spy or a class enemy.
3. In Rwanda, President Habyarimana's political party organized a youth movement called the Interahamwe (means-those who attack together.) When reading this, I couldn't help but think about the Red Guards. This was a group of young students who followed Mao Zedong's every command. They destroyed temples and books. They mocked, tortured and killed anyone they deemed to be "black" or the enemy.
4. An unfathomable number of people were killed in both countries. It is estimated that 1,000,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus were slaughtered during the genocide in 100 days. That's 1 MILLION people killed in 100 DAYS. That is 10 THOUSAND people per DAY! In China during Mao's 26 year regime, it is estimated that around 60,000,000 people were killed. That is over 6 THOUSAND people per DAY! Everyday...for...26 YEARS!!!
And the rest of the world did NOTHING in either situation! Did we learn nothing from Hitler? Do we really have to keep allowing this terror to happen over and over again before we learn? Why don't we see the signs? It's all there. We just need to stop thinking so much about ourselves and our lovely, comfortable lives in America and start opening our eyes to the rest of the world.
If you want to read an incredible story about the power of prayer and forgiveness, read "Lived to Tell." Immaculee's story of surviving the Rwandan Holocaust is unbelievable. She goes into detail what those 100 days were like as a Tutsi woman. You will cry through most of the book but you will not want to put it down. It will change how you pray and how you forgive.

From Ashes to Africa

Since we can't actually start the adoption process yet for Rwanda, we have been trying to use the time to learn more about the history and people of Rwanda as well as African adoption in general. We are finding it difficult to find many books on adopting from Africa. With China, they were jumping off the shelves of Barnes and Nobel. Well, Matt found this one and we are so glad that he did.

"From Ashes to Africa" is the story Josh and Amy Bottomly and their journey to Africa. They book goes back and forth between Josh and Amy writing so it is a very quick but powerful read. They are very honest about their struggles with infertility. It brought back many memories that I had put way back in my mind. Without giving away the whole story, they end up adopting a baby boy from Ethiopia. The way that they talk about adoption and God's command for us to take care of the orphans of the world seemed to fan that flame that is already inside of me. I am so thrilled that we are adopting again. This is what God has commanded us to do.

Halloween Fun

I can't believe that this is Emma's second Halloween already! How time has flown by since last May when we first held her in our arms. I wasn't going to buy Emma a costume this year because we have my niece Sidney's Snow White costume from when she was 3. But, we went to the Disney Store the other day and the Mulan costumes were on sale marked down from $55 to $15! I just couldn't resist. And, I'm so glad that I didn't. Emma has worn her Mulan costume everyday since Saturday and even asks to wear it to bed. She walks around the house saying, " I love my Mulan costume Mommy! I love it!" I'm so glad you do little Miss Emma Rain!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Blue Cribs, Blue Walls, Brown Eyes

One of the things that we have learned so far about the Rwanda adoption process is that as of now, America World has received all of its referrals from the same orphanage in Kigali, Rwanda. We have been able to look at the website of the orphanage and see pictures posted by other families. This is so different than what our China experience was already. With Emma, we had no idea where in China she was. It is such a huge country and we had no clue where in it our sweet little daughter was living the first several months of her life. It is strange for me to see pictures and know that, most likely, this is where our Jack will be living until we are able to go get him. It is difficult to see all the little faces in blue cribs with bright blue walls jammed together. At least they seem to be smiling. We have also seen pictures of the outside of the orphanage. There is no grass to play on just dirt.
Here is a video that I found today while reading the blog of another America World family. They are waiting for their referral and hope to receive it in the next few weeks. From what most people think, the photos in this video with blue cribs and bright blue walls are probably from Home of Hope in Kigali where Jack will someday be and where we will meet him. It is almost surreal for me to watch it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The People's Republic of China turns 60 today

Today is the 60th anniversary of the communist take over of China. Mao Zedong proclaimed China The People's Republic of China 60 years ago today in Tienanmen Square. I feel very torn this morning as I always do when thinking about Mao. It makes me so angry to think about all the horrible and inhumane things that he did and allowed to happen to his own people...forced sterilizations and abortions, public humiliation, destruction of temples, books, etc., "re-education in labor camps", torture of millions of Christians. The list goes on and on. Over the last 3 years I have read things about communist China and pre-communist China that just make my stomach turn. While standing in Tienanmen Square last summer I couldn't help but think of the students crushed by tanks for simply stating their opinion...something we take for granted here in America.

The thing that tears me apart is that if it were not for Mao and those who followed him, I wouldn't have Emma as my daughter. The string of events that occurred over the last 60 years is what led to tens of thousands of children being adopted out of China. If Mao had not encouraged the people to multiply to build a stronger China, there would not have been the need to enforce the One Child Policy years later. This is why it is so hard for me to really think about China. Everything inside of me not only as a Christian but as a human being can't stand the policies and practices of China's government. But at the same time, everything inside of me LOVES Emma and can't remember what life was like without her. I will always be grateful to China for allowing me to adopt Emma. But it is hard to respect them. i want Emma to appreciate her heritage but I also want her to understand the hardship that exists there.

So, Happy Birthday to The People's Republic of China. I hope that you grow wiser with old age.

Dave and Heidi's Wedding!!!

Matt's brother Dave got married this weekend in Minnesota. It was such an amazing wedding! Matt performed the ceremony so that was really special. It meant a lot to him to be able to do that for Dave and Heidi. Emma was the most adorable flowergirl ever! She had so much fun wearing her pretty "wedding dress." The wedding was at Heidi's parents' house on a gorgeous bluff. The view was incredible and the weather turned out to be just perfect! The night was capped off with fireworks! We are so thrilled for them as they begin this new phase of life together. We just adore Heidi and are so happy to have her Officially as a Sister!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Saturday, Matt and I went to see Snow Patrol and U2 in Chicago at Soldier Field with our good friends Doug and Mara. I have been to see many concerts in my life that I can't even remember them all. This one I will NEVER forget. It was absolutely mind blowing. The stage was enourmous, the lights were spectacular and the sound was fantastic. We had awesome seats and the weather was perfect. You really couldn't have asked for a better night.

Here is a video that Mara took. I hope it works! Enjoy!


Monday, September 7, 2009

Families in Rwanda

There are currently 3 America World Families in Rwanda picking up their children. It has been so awesome to follow their journeys. Because Rwanda is such a new program, there just isn't the amount of information out there that we had when we were adopting from China. It has been really helpful to follow their trips and begin to piece together what the trip will be like for us when we go get Jack.

If you would like to follow along, here are their blogs!

The Limmer Family is adopting a baby boy, Moses-
The Higgins Family is adopting 2 boys, Zeke and Etienne-
The Himes Family is adopting 2 girls, Maya and Keira-


Friday, September 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Grandpa Ross!

Today is my dad's birthday! Happy 56th!
We are speding a couple of days in Trufant to celebrate Labor Day. Friday night is always the Kiddie Parade. A few hours before it started, my grandma asked if Emma was going to be in it this year. We hadn't really even given it a thought. Matt said that he would walk with her so we got out one of Jade and Sidney's old Halloween costumes and Princess Emma was ready to go. When she looked in the mirror she said, "Emma Butterfly!" and smiled.
yes...she is still into making sad faces.

Emma with Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa Hubbard

Thursday, September 3, 2009

B-O-O-T-S In my yellow boots

When my niece, Jade, got to be a toddler my mom started buying rainboots for her to wear around the lake. The cabinet in the garage is full of rainboots to fit kids from 2-10. Jade, Sidney and now Emma love to splash in mud puddles, wade in the streams, and run through the fields in bright yellow rainboots. Today, Emma decided to help Grandma water the flowers. At least her feet stayed dry!

Sad Face...Don't laugh, Don't laugh

Right now Emma is into making sad faces. She will make what she thinks is a sad face (I just think it's cute) and then we both say, "Don't laugh, Don't laugh!" until we both laugh. She could play this game for hours.

Don't Laugh!
Also, the adorable dress is from Panama! David and Heidi brought it back...along with a diamond ring...from their trip this winter. Isn't it awesome!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Corn is Good!

Emma and I spent the day freezing sweet corn with my mom, grandma and grandpa. I remember when I was a kid we used to do this every August. My brother and I would help husk the corn out by the garden but our favorite part of the day was eating the "corn logs." Those are the bits of corn that are left in chunks when you cut the corn off the cob after blanching it. Yum Yum! Today we froze 54 quarts of sweet corn. My grandpa said it was a record for him. So that must really be a lot. It was so fun for me to have Emma experience this with my grandparents. Growing up in the country, things like this were such a big part of my childhood. I love that Emma got to experience it for the first time this summer. She had so much fun husking the corn. She picked every little hair off the ear. Of course, she really loved eating the corn logs. She also snuck over to the raspberry bushes for a mid-morning snack. I must admit that I couldn't resist the little red jewels myself. It was a great day that we can remember every time we pull out a bag of great-grandpa's juice sweet corn this winter.
Emma and Great-Grandpa picking the corn

Corn is good!
Emma with Grandma Ross...again eating corn.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Miracle...and his name is Jack!

This spring, Matt and I began to consider the possibility of adopting again. After several weeks of research, prayer, number crunching and more prayer, we decided that it just wasn't going to happen. We came to the conclusion that by the time we could a) afford another adoption and b)wait for the process to happen Emma would be about 7 and there would be too large of an age gap between the kids. We decided not to adopt again and eventually became at peace with the fact that Emma was going to be an only child. Emma is our miracle and we would be a happy family of 3.

Then this week, God did another miracle. He has put it on the heart of another to provide the funding for an adoption. I almost fell off the couch when I was told the news. I can only imagine that it was like waking up one morning and discovering that you are pregnant. I was in complete shock! This was not even on our radar and now we are going to have another child.

Matt has always wanted a son and since going to Malawi in 2006 he has had a desire in his heart to bring that son home from Africa. So, that is what we are going to do. We are going to adopt a baby boy from Rwanda. Unfortunately, Holt does not work in Rwanda at this time but America World does. It is kinda funny actually. Back in 2005 when we were first looking into adopting from China, America World was our agency of choice. It is also the agency that our dear friends Craig and Julie used to adopt their little Ivy from China. We know that we will be well taken care of through this brand new process. There have only been a handful of adoptions from Rwanda in the past few years so this time we are helping to blaze the trail.

We are hoping to submit our initial application in the next week or two and then begin the paper pregnancy all over again...this time the wait is only 12-15 months though! At least it better stay that way!

Monday, July 20, 2009

BoBo went to China!

One of the girls in our youth group, Bethany (Emma calls her BoBo) went with Royal Servants this summer to China. She was there for 6 weeks teaching English and sharing Christ with children. Before she left, the youth group had a big going away party for her. Emma wore one of her Chinese outfits to celebrate!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Surprise Trip to Rochester

My brother called on Wednesday to tell me that he had a 3 day weekend for July 4th. So, Thursday morning Mom, Dad, Emma and I jumped in the car and drove to Rochester. It was so much fun! The girls had a blast feeding geese and ducks, playing on the playground, jumping through the water sprinklers and playing in the yard. It is so fun to watch them all together now that Emma is old enough to get in on the action. They are coming to Michigan for a visit in August.

Friday, July 3, 2009

MeMa Came to Play

Matt's Mom, Cindy, came to stay with Emma and I while Matt was in New Orleans with the high schoolers. Emma had so much fun playing and reading with MeMa.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Master Matt!

I am so proud to announce that Matt received his Masters of Divinity from Rockbridge Seminary last week. We, along with my mom, were able to drive to Springfield, MO to attend the ceremony. Matt's mom and dad flew in for the weekend so we all stayed at their condo in Branson. It was such a fun weekend. Our good friend Ann who is working for a non-profit ministry in Branson was able to attend with us, too. She was in youth group with Matt when they were kids so it was fun to have her there with us.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Remembering An Incredible Day...

On May 25, 2008, we landed in Nanchang, Jiangxi. We had spent 4 fantastic days in Beijing and couldn't believe that this day was finally here. We found our Holt guide, Lisa, and quickly made our way to the hotel. Lisa told us that we had about an hour before we would leave for the Civil Affairs Office to get Emma. We walked into our room to find an empty crib waiting by the window, a stroller tucked in the corner of the closet, and a baby tub in the bathroom. It was really happening! All the things I had read and heard from other families were finally happening to us. It was just like I had pictured in my mind.
We wrapped the gifts that we brought for Emma's foster parents, the orphanage nannies and the director. Lisa helped us write cards to them thanking them for taking care of our precious daughter. How do you even put that into words on a postcard? Then...we grabbed the camera and headed down to the car. When we arrived at the Civil Affairs Office we took the elevator to the 16th floor. It was such a hot and humid day and there was no air conditioning. We stopped and took a quick picture in front of the sign. I expected that we would have time to get settled in the room before Emma was brought in because this is what usually happens. So, when I walked around the corner and saw her standing there with her nanny, I almost couldn't breathe. It had been 2 years since we filled out our first piece of paperwork you would think that I would have been ready for that moment. I guess you never are truly ready for that moment whether you are picking up your child in a hot room in China or giving birth in a hospital. I just wanted to run and hold her but they wouldn't let me near her until they checked our passports. I thought...Are you kidding me? You can't tell that it is me after all the pictures I had to send you?! Give me my baby!!

Finally, we were allowed to go near her. I walked up and knelt down beside her. She had such sadness and confusion in her eyes. She was covered with little red spots and sweating like crazy. I picked her up and her big beautiful lower lip shot out and began to quiver. The poor dear had been tossed around so many times in her short life. She was with her birthmother, the orphanage, a foster family for a year, then back to the orphanage for 4 months and then handed to these strange looking white people who sound and look and smell so different. My heart just broke for her. We were able to spend a little time chatting with her nanny and the orphanage director. She gave me additional pictures that I saw in Emma's file. She answered our questions about sleeping, eating, etc. She said that Emma enjoys joyful music. This is still true. I asked her why she chose the name Cai Juan for her. The director said that in China the name Juan is a "pretty girly girl" name. Emma was such a pretty baby that she gave her that name. I agree...she is the prettiest baby I have ever seen! When we finished, the four of us went into the elevator. That was the moment that Emma realized that her assumptions were correct. She pulled her head back and let out the saddest sound that I have ever heard. It wasn't even really a cry just a shout of pain and sadness. It was like she was not again.

We got into the car and Matt held her close. She fell asleep in his arms. It was lovely.

For the next 3 hours she cried and slept and ate. We filled out more paperwork, fingerprints, footprints, etc. Finally, it was time for bed. The nanny told us that she likes to be tickled before going to sleep. So, Matt laid her down and started tickling. He finally found the right spot and she burst into laughter and smiles! It was the sweetest sound I had ever heard. We both burst into tears. It was finally a moment of relief. She was going to be okay. Everything was going to be okay.

The next morning we were back at the Civil Affairs Office to complete the adoption. So, on May 26, 2008 Yu Cai Juan officially become Emma Rain Nash. It was a beautiful day!

On Tuesday we had a Happy Adoption Day Party for Emma. It is hard to believe how much she has changed. HAPPY ADOPTION DAY EMMA!!! We can't remember life without you! We love you!