My dog is so quiet and so sneaky that sometimes I don’t even realize she’s behind me; particularly when I am folding laundry. I’ll catch the slightest movement out of the corner of my eye, turn and see my dog quietly, yet emphatically, shredding a dryer sheet that has wafted gently out of the dryer with some article of clothing. Freed from its duties and newly released from the sultry heat of its tumbling prison, it has joyously floated out so softly that I am totally unaware of its meager existence. Mason however is acutely aware that this wispy, gossamer like sheet has fallen from the dryer. She swoops in like a stealth bomber and picks it up with the prowess of a ninja slinking on the roof of an ancient palace (after all, this dog could hear a cotton ball hit a sidewalk from a fifth story window) and she swiftly and skillfully shreds it to perfectly fluffy strips that even an Eastern Bluebird would eagerly snatch up during his springtime nest gathering ventures. Her eyes meet mine; I say nary a word. The look on her face is as shameless as it is mindful, oh yeah, she knew what she was doing and she also knew that it was a no-no. She tucks her tail, bows her head and curls up on her bed, leaving the mess for me. Best let guilty dogs lie.

This post is not really about laundry, or my dog. It’s not about fluffy dryer sheets or even bluebird nests. It’s about getting things done; better yet, it’s about doing things.

 

I’m not really what you would call a procrastinator. I am a doer!! I make things happen! Heck, I am a maker of THINGS! I make my own Christmas cards. I decorate two Christmas trees. (Why? I don’t know why? Why not? The trees are pretty, that’s all. I like pretty.) I also cook, I paint, I shoot a lot of pictures, I create, I do, I make, I do, I make. Well, I used to do all of these things.

I finally managed to decorate the big tree…took me three days, but I did it!

 

For the last couple of years, however, I feel like I am indeed a lost and troubled procrastinator. I make plans. Great plans. They sit, these plans, like tidy little warriors ready for marching instructions in one or two or more of the many little spiral notebooks that I can never resist buying –  for inspiration of course! My big plans; my organized thoughts, my personal stories, all jotted down for later and further elaboration. The more I buy, the more productive I will surely be. For the book I am writing- my rough drafts, for my blogs – oh so slow to get started you have been, Yoda would surely scold. I think you get the picture. I write plans.  

Then…I fail. I make more plans. I fail. I come up with grand and elaborate schemes, ideas and plans. But, alas, I don’t seem to be able to follow through. The problem is not that I am lazy or that I waste my time per se, the problem is that I am sick. Crazy sick. Like it won’t go away and leave me alone sick! My rheumatologist calls it chronic illness- well that sounds chronically annoying to me! I do not have time for this anymore! I’ve become rather irritated by it all. However, irritated gets me nowhere. No. Where. Freakshow!

I’ll explain some of that some other time. Now, I have someone who is helping me work through my feelings and my dealings with this ‘sickness’. She has taught me that I have to, absolutely must, no way around it…make a date with Dawn.  So, that is what I have done!

Today, I decided it was time to do something with my ‘chemo’ hair. My hairdresser stopped me from going completely pixie- she cut a beautiful little bob that made it seem so much more full and happy. We had a date with Dawn!

I worked on some of my photography, wrote this post and reflected on a wonderful meal I cooked on Sunday. I liked my date with Dawn. 

 

A family photo before Pauline’s surprise birthday party at Nori Nori…that little guy ate his weight in sushi! Thank you Scott for inviting us and caring and Pauline and kids for loving us so much!

Part 2  is finally here.

We have decided to adopt our summer orphan! 

I had to wait for China’s pre-approval (which came a week ago) to be legally allowed to even mention this publicly. Then of course, I had to let it all sink into my head a bit. I have a mound of paperwork to do already. They tell me it takes 6 months to prepare the dossier. I believe them. CCAI is the acronym for Chinese Children Adoption International. Our little Emily was adopted through this program 12 years ago. CCAI is chock full of orphans and the angels helping them. Close to 12,000 children have been placed by them in the last couple of decades. They are amazing folks.

http://ccaifamily.org/

I was unsure of how to proceed with part 2 of this; my Chinese Orphan Series. You see, I was unsure of whether we would even be allowed to adopt a child, due to my Churg-Strauss Syndrome. I was torn on moving ahead with advocating for this child. I wasn’t ready to give him up to a stranger. Not after he stole our hearts. My job this summer was to advocate for dental, vision and health check ups for this little guy. I did that, and I will say that I did it well. I did it well only because God put the best doctors with goodness in their hearts in my path. These doctors all donated their time, efforts and full exams to our little man’s disposal. They were amazing. As was this little boy.

I have also had some awesome support from friends and family in making this happen. Thanks to all of them!

This child has been an orphan since he was two weeks old. He turned 12 on February 29th of this year. He’s the size of an 8 year old. He is bright, he is kind. He is full of mischief and love. Today will not be the the day that I share his full personal story. I have too many tears just thinking of it all: the pain that he has felt, the family he has missed, the God he has never even been told of…

Medically speaking, he should not even be alive. He beat the odds. God has purpose for him; for me, for our family.

I have decided to simply post the ‘gist’ of my answer to the very first question on the very first ‘pre-approval’ form:  Preliminary Assessment for Special Needs Adoption.

Because LOVE wins.

——————————————–

PRELIMINARY ASSESSMENT-

How did you arrive at your decision to adopt a child with medical needs? Please address the attitudes of all your family members towards this decision.

We hosted ‘our’ special-needs child, Ni Zhang, in our home this summer because we had prayed to the Lord for guidance on being more in tune with doing ‘good’ in the world. How, I asked God, can I find what it is that you need us to do Lord? Ni Zhang was what I prayed for, and we fell in love with him in the 3 weeks that lived in our home and moved into our hearts. We had to make a decision to advocate for him to find him a forever family or to make a move to adopt him ourselves. I stalled as long as I could, try to be sure that I was the right Momma for the job, so-to-speak.

I asked my daughter a few weeks ago in a quiet moment on a paddleboard, out on a lake, in the middle of East Tennessee: “Can I do this Whitney? I don’t know. What good would I be to a child if I were too tired. I’m older now, I’m not the 25 year old I was when I had you. Would that be unfair to a child? Why am I doubting myself? I asked for this!?”

My wise and beautiful daughter explained to me, without hesitation, just as if our roles had suddenly changed and she was now in charge:  “Would it not be better to have a Momma who is tired, than to have no Momma at all?”

Silence.

I will say that this was the pivotal moment. I have never looked back.

Whitney the Wise has reminded me too, on occasion, that she knew how I had always wanted to help a child. “Remember, how you always wanted to teach? How you said, ‘If I can save one child from dropping out of school, I will have done some (good) in the world.’ Well, Mother, you helped Robert and you helped me to be proud, honorable high school graduates. You taught me how to work for a master’s degree, for what I believed in and wanted for myself- not what someone else wanted me to do. Your love is what taught your son to be loyal to himself, his family and his country- your love taught Robert humility and humor, it also taught him how to be secure in himself and the Marine that he became. You are also making an impact on Emily like no one else in her life ever has.

My wonderful daughter reminded me how I have introduced young Emily to a whole new world in the last 3 years. I know she’s right, I know that I was unsure of how to step into the life of a child whom I had never met in her previous 10 years. I have taught Emily of the beautiful and abundant love that God has for her. She has been given responsibility and learned of the satisfaction that can be reaped with that responsibility; how to do things for herself, not wait for someone to do it for her. I have taught her to to cook a few things and help prepare meals and to not be afraid of the oven or the knife- “yes, Emily, you will get burned and you will get cut, more than once in life; you will learn from it and you will grow strong and wise and accept new challenges.” I have shown her that she is a beautiful person who is capable of standing on her own two feet and thinking for herself. She has learned that I am tough; my guidelines on life come heaped with love and acceptance.

Thanks to my daughter, Whitney, for her young, but infinite wisdom; her sincere and true love for me. Thanks to her for reminding me that I am Momma! Thanks to her for knowing truly, that I am more than capable of making the best life for Ni Zhang that he would never have without my motherly love.

This is how we, (and I personally), came to the decision of adopting young Ni Zhang, medical needs and all. My Vincent and his big heart, Emily and Whitney as loving sisters were already fully decided; my son – in summer college courses, so far away in Texas – and his wife were not able to meet Ni Zhang while he was here. My son knows of my wishes and he supports me- he agrees this child deserves our family. Their support will be fully wrapped around Ni Zhang as will my entire, large and extended family’s love and acceptance. I only had to get past my  own self beliefs that I am not perfect. I realized finally that perfect has never been asked of me. Ni Zhang is a blessing of goodness that the Lord has bestowed upon me and my wonderful family. He loved us unconditionally while he was here. These are the reasons why we have decided to adopt this child.

Ni Zhang on the day before he went back to China with the photobook of summer memories I surprised him with that morning.

In closing, I will say that I realize that anything could happen. Something along the way could derail our plans. This child begged me for 3 days not to send him back to China, it was gut-wrenching for all of us. We have to go and get him. 

I have FAITH…if this is truly God’s will, then let His Will be done. Blessings to all for your love and support. Prayers are always appreciated.  

With love, Dawn and Vince

Our little friend from China!

What is an orphan? Are all orphans created equal? Are American orphans better than Russian orphans? Are all orphans children of God? He who numbers the hairs on our head will certainly not turn away from the orphan.

All Orphans Have a Father

God is the great protector and loving Father of all orphans. Psalm 68:5 says, “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows, is God in his holy habitation.” 

The People of God Will Care for Orphans

James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (1)

In January of 2016, I was so sick of being sick. I was praying for a way to learn acceptance of the ‘sentence’ I had been dealth. I had, at this point, been sick for a little over 17 years- but, for almost 2 years, I had been “chronically ill” almost every single day. I was more than a little annoyed, way past feeling sorry for myself; welling up with a feeling anger about being sick. I was angry that not a single one of the 8 or so ‘ologists’ that I saw could (fix) me. Good grief! this is the year 2016 for Pete’s sake! And so it was that my little brain finally accepted…it is what it is. Dawn, you must buckle down and find a way to perservere like you always have always perservered- with the Grace and Strength of the Lord’s guidance.

I have a strong faith in The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. Never once have I been angry at God for this. In fact, I am stronger in my faith. More grateful, more open minded and more conscious of the world around me. Please understand, I have never been selfish, or closed-minded to others needs; quite the contrary. But I had never had the courage, nor have I been strong enough mentally to do anything bigger than fundraising and praying for other peoples’ needs. I don’t know why; can’t give anyone an answer any better that. I have dreamed big schemes and helped others do ‘good’, but I simply have not had the support I felt I needed to do it myself.

Early this year, I asked God to help me focus on acceptance. Acceptance of my taciturn health, acceptance of the loss of my ‘livelyhood’ in working as I had done since the age of 16, acceptance that I am not going to be healed, that I am going to deal with this ‘sickness’ for the rest of my life. I prayed for discovery. “Please God”, I prayed, “show me how to move on with what I deal with daily; mostly, please help me figure out how to help other people who are in a worse situation than I am in Lord. I don’t mean to seem, act, or be pitiful of my situation. I don’t want to BE selfish. I need your help in figuring this out Lord.”

Things started to materialize and dawn on me in my thinking process after I read an article in the CCAI Circle – December 2015 Issue. The arcticle was “Life’s What Ifs- The Baby We Didn’t Adopt”. (2) My husband and his ex-wife had adopted my step-daughter from China 12 years prior, and my husband is still a supporter of the charitable funding of Chinese orphans- so we get this little flyer from CCAI periodically.

http://www.ccaifamily.org/Newsletter/Circle/Circle-2015

The beautiful story prompted me to go the website and have a look around. I came across a page that listed about 20 or so Chinese children who were spotlighted as needing summer host families in the United States. Each child had specific medical issues, some more severe than others. All needed love and a ‘break’ from their normal routines in their orphanages. Immediately, I wanted them all. That’s just me with kids though. A few of them really tugged at my heart and kept me glued to my laptop. I watched each video and read each profile. My heart was excited. My soul thrilled. For weeks, then months, I watched and re-watched, read and re-read. I researched their medical issues. I tried to figure out how a country would do this to it’s people. How hard it must be for mothers to give up their babies- because the culture will only accept perfection in children?? We all know of China’s One Child Policy (recently changed to 2). If you don’t know it well, I encourage you to go out on the web and research it.

I was also cautious. I know that I am a big dreamer; since childhood, through my teen years and onward. My life story will appear in words here someday as well…but this post is for the children that I feel have dreprived of a full chance to dream their lives, let alone live it.

My daughter was here with me for a weekend visit a few days after I had seen the site. She knew of my long desires to adopt a child in need. We talk daily and she knows me well. My open heart, my soft emotions, my determination and my struggles. I showed her the videos…and one that especially touched my heart. We agreed the little boy was totally adorable and his bio made us believe that there was a possible chance for his medical needs to be easily attended if he had the opportunity of a family and good doctors. We both agreed that his tiny little self reminded us a lot of Vince’s childhood pictures.

To be continued…

(1) http://showhope.org/4-things-the-bible-says-about-orphans/                        (2) http://www.ccaifamily.org/Newsletter/Circle/Circle-2015