A Mile In My Shoes

Or, more accurately, 13.1 of those miles.  This past weekend I officially registered to run the half-marathon in this year’s Chosen Marathon at the end of October.  This is an event that is all about celebrating adoption, and raising money for orphanages and families who are adopting.  Both Tabby and I were planning on participating in their inaugural race back in 2010 to raise money to bring Judah home.  An early training injury and the craziness of moving into a new house while trying to sell our old house took that idea completely off of our radar–until a couple of months ago when a Facebook post by Jen Hatmaker resurrected it.

Like many families, when we found ourselves making that first call to an adoption agency, it was out of obedience to a burden the Lord had put on our hearts.  It wasn’t because we had stacks of disposable income laying around and were thinking, “Hey, you know what we should do with this money?”  Adoption is an expensive proposition, no two ways about it.  For most, it is God-sized.  There were times during the process where the money we needed showed up just as we needed it–and even once just after we mailed a check in faith that the money would come in time to cover it.  We were fortunate enough that finances never held up the already long process of bringing Judah home; but that’s not the case for everyone.

So, even though we’ve got our Cheeky Monkey home now, we’d like do what little we can to help out those families who have opened their hearts to being the forever family for a child in need of one.  Families who might be relying on the money raised from this event to keep the process moving toward the day when that new member is home for good.  There is no official “sponsor me” sign-up, but that’s exactly what I’m fixin-ta-do (that’s Texas-talk) here.  I’ve been training for 2 months now and have logged 144 miles.  By race-day on October 27, I’ll have put more than 550 miles of pavement behind me in preparation for the 13.1 in front of me.  I’ve never run anything longer than a 10k (6.2 miles), and that was back in high school.  This will definitely be a challenge, but it will be worth it to meet other families and hear their adoption stories and hopefully raise some money for them.  I encourage you to go over to Chosen Marathon and see what it is all about; especially the options under the Donate menu.  While it certainly would be easiest for us to collect and make a single donation, it wouldn’t be tax-deductible for you that way.  So you can still pretend to sponsor me–pick a flat amount, an amount per mile, an amount if I finish under a certain time (my goal is under 2 hours), whatever–but your donation will either to to the general race fund, to the ABBA fund, or to a specific team.  I wish there was a short profile for each of the teams who are directly supporting individual families, but there isn’t.  You can see the list here.  If the Lord moves on your heart to support one of those families specifically, then by all means your donation can go toward their team.

If you would like to add fuel to my fire, send an email to adoption@whapham.com and let us know how you can help.  The run is still almost four months away, so expect that I’ll bug you again at some point.  Oh, and, no, that’s not actually a photo of me running. But I’m told I’ve got chicken legs–so it’s probably pretty close.

Settling In

imageWell, it has been 4 days since we have been home and this is the second day of being home with cheecky monkey and no one else (except for small snatches of Brittney and Jorge). He is doing suprisingly well and we have only had a few, minor meltdowns. He is a sweet and tender boy who just so happens to be VERY active, much like Daniel was when he was a boy; except where Daniel was all knees and elbows, Judah is a solid 60 lbs, in a compact little body.

Yesterday we moved from activity to activity so fast that by noon we had done everything and he was already asking when Daniel would be home so he could play Godzilla. Fortunately, he did go down for a nap which gave me a couple hours to sit and read and just decompress from all the BIG changes that have happened in 3 weeks.

Considering all things – I think we are doing well. It is as tough as I expected it to be and tougher than I had hoped. We were pretty educated by our agency on children who have been in an institute and some of the things that are common to their adjustment and behavior, but we really were not mentally prepared for the effects being in a foster family would have on our boy. We constantly have to remind ourselves that he is grieving a loving family. We also face the challenge of loving him through his inability to understand why he has been taken from his family.

In China we learned his family never told him he was not thier own; in his mind he was taken from a family and this one thing may be the hardest ‘effect of adoption’ we have to overcome (and the fact he was very indulged, but he is learning fast who the boss is). It is something that we will continue to lift up and ask that you join us. It is hard for us at times to seperate the behavior from the boy and to not take it personally when his behavior is directed at us. However, it is not hard to love these children; it IS hard to parent though when the boundaries have been established by others first and we are left to redraw the lines.

T

The Real Journey

A quick update for all of you who have been following along with our adventure.  We are finally back on American soil after a very long day of travel.  (Prepare for one giant run-on sentence, because that’s what the day felt like.)  We left our hotel at 6:00 am China time, took a 3 hour van ride from Guangzhou to the Hong Kong airport, stood in way too many lines and passed through way too many security checkpoints there, left Hong Kong at 11:30 am China time, flew 12 hours and landed in San Francisco 3 hours earlier than we left (Pacific time, of course), made it through immigration and customs, went to the wrong gate, carried and dragged two exhaused kids to the right gate (which had to be THE furthest gate in the entire place), nearly slept through the entire 3 1/2 hour flight to DFW, then drove to home-sweet-home during rush hour, arriving around 7:00 pm to put a not-so-tidy bow on 26 hours of vans, planes, and automobiles.

But we are HOME!  Judah did remarkably well on the flights (thank you, Jesus) and seems to have taken to his new home rather well.  In no small way due to our kids keeping the house afloat for the two weeks we were gone, and the Legos waiting for him to play with last night (big thanks, Kat).  We managed to get nearly 8 hours of sleep last night–even the one who has spent his entire life a half a day off from our time.  Of course, by noon, we were all exhausted again and all four of us crawled up in our bed and managed to “nap” for over 3 hours.

We would love to spend time reflecting on the trip and sharing our thoughts and all of the things we forgot to mention in the updates while in China, but the brain-fog is still too thick.  We were way overestimating ourselves when we said “come out Friday and meet Judah!”  That will have to wait.  But we promise it will happen.  And we promise now that we have an actual usuable internet connection that we will share photos from the trip.  All in due time.  After some more napping.  The adoption process is over, but the adoption journey has just begun.

Stay tuned…

Bittersweet

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So today is our last day in China. It is bittersweet for several reasons. One, because we have made friends here and it has been such an encouragement and a blessing; two, because we are leaving this beautiful city and we have had only a small look into such a vast culture and amazing history, and lastly because we are leaving behind Jia Yu’s world.

Last night was very hard for him and he cried because he was homesick. He talked to us about his Chinese Mama and we were able to catch enough phrases to understand he was sharing his sadness with us. It is all so much for him to take in but in the middle of hitting himself, he allowed Rob and I both to hold him and love him. He finally crawled in my lap to eat some ‘comfort food’ – snacks from his home, and let me hold him for about an hour. This was a first because our little guy never sits still. Every fifteen minutes or so he would turn around and rub my face and kiss me. It was a hard night and all our hearts broke for our boy.

We did get to sleep in after a very busy day yesterday. After the consulate, then swimming, then the park, then swimming again…let me tell you a funny story about that. Jia Yu is a negotiator (even with a language barrier) and he LOVES the pool. Yesterday in the pool we were wrapping up and told him every few minutes when we would be leaving. At 2 minutes he was negotiating with Baba (Rob – 2 minutes Jia Yu, Jia Yu – 4 minutes Baba, Rob – 1 minute Jia Yu, Jia Yu – ok, ok 2 minutes) and so it goes, you get the picture and I was seated behind Baba holding up 2 fingers and Baba had 2 fiingers up and Jia Yu say’s “ok, Baba 2 minutes, and Mama 2 minutes” and he smashes is left 2 fingers into his right and say’s “Jia Yu, 4 minutes!” Cheeky Monkey!

Today has been easier but emotional. I have had the cries and he has been clingy (another first, no flight risk today) and has cried as well. We are all trying to just love him and be close by if he needs us. We spent some time at a famous house and then went to the Six Banyan Temple. It was beautiful and a good look into Buddist religion and architecture. A funny moment came after we were told not to photograph the monks, but we look up and one is on his cell phone. Hum!?

Jia Yu understands well that tomorrow we take a plane to Mae Gua (America). He is excited to see Daniel and “Grittney”.  But, I know that it will be more difficult as we approach leaving. Please pray for him, pray that we are discerning, gentle and loving. Pray all these families traveling have a smooth flight and arrive home safely.

We hope everyone can join us Friday to meet our boy. He loves cake so we will be sure to have that…and Chinese food too. We love you guys!

Oh, and one more thing – for those in our family and extended family who are particularly gassy – he has you beat, hands down! And one more, he has snored so loud that we all slept with ear plugs and it didn’t help!

One Step Closer to Home

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Hello Family & Friends,

We just got back from our Embassy Appointment.  Unfortunately, the government would not let us take a single picture of the oath or anything. So you will just have to take my word for it.  It was fairly painless compared to the other ‘red tape’ agencies, on the other hand we are also trying to find some home services that will take care of us since we have been feeling a little insecure lately, we had just hired Crockett Roofing Contractors to fix our roof because we found out that there was a huge hole in it that anybody could fit through there.

Today we plan on a swim (which seems to tire the cheeky monkey out) and then take a walk down to the other park near our hotel. Hopefully we will find an affordable place to eat tonight. Although we have enjoyed our hotel and Goungzhou very much, there are not as many places to have a meal, Chinese or otherwise…except McDonalds. Bluuh!

As for yesterday, it was probably our first normal-ish day so far. We had to head to the Medical Exam place to have his TB test looked at and all was well. After that we went to the Shaiman Island for some shopping and eating at Lucy’s (a very common stop for anyone on the island).  It was a brief trip, but Jia Yu did well while we were shopping…no running off…and he ate his meal and only about 1/2 my fries. I unfortunately had some stomach trouble the night before after our stop at the Arabian resturant, so I was super happy to get a ginger ale and grilled cheese curds. Rob had his first cheese burger in China, Grace had cheese pizza, and Jia Yu had lamb, again.  It’s a good thing we didn’t try any of their Mexican dishes–we found out after the fact that they have not sat well with others who have tried them.

We came back and took the kids to the pool since it seemed to tire Jia Yu out the day before. We have really enjoyed the pool and whirlpool. After that was dinner and some time in the play park that is in our hotel. This was the first meal Jia Yu had (McNuggets) that he ate at the same pace as the rest of us and only begged a few fries off sister. We played catch where he caught on quick and he loved playing on the swings (although we could tell it was his first time because he had no clue how to do it and almost fell out the front and back a few times).

The best part was that we were there with about 25 other adoptive families there as well. We actually met a family from Texas (Decatur) who have adopted 3 children, they have 10 ranging from 31 – 2). Thier new boy, Ben, was just about the cutest thing you can imagine and ANYONE would have taken him home. He was just 2 and already could count to 44 and speak well in English. It was encouraging to see these families, many with children that just need a simple surgery to repair a cleft lip. All these families have shared about their amazing children and how well they are adapting to the change. It is amazing and such a blessing that God created these children to be so resilient. There are a few though that have shared the difficulties too, extreme mood swings, the silent tears, the children who don’t know how hold their parent because most likely they have not been held. We have seen the effects up close and we have seen in DAYS how these children respond to love and attention and it is amazing. These families are amazing and encourage us so much. At the same time it makes my heart break for that little boy in the institute that was so enamored with his picture, just waiting for a family. Here in China his life and oppurtunities are very limited, I pray he finds a family soon.

We also had the opportunity to Skype with Rob’s father and a woman he works with that teaches Chinese to Chinese children and their American families.  Jia Yu was very happy to have someone to speak with, even if only briefly.  And considering he was about to actually fall asleep on his own at 8:30, we were happy to get anything out of him.  And, while we seem to be wearing him out and he is sleeping well; we, on the other hand, have had to deal with his loud snoring every night.  There will definitely be a visit to the ENT when we get back.

Well, my sweet girl and cheecky monkey have been patiently waiting to have a swim before we head to the park, so I better go. We love you all!

Britt, please have some fruit for us at the house, bacon and oj. This kid is an eating machine! If anyone has Legos to spare…we sure could use some. Two more days until we fly home!

adventures at almosta ranch