News from China!

Rhodes family-Yang Yu Zhen photos2 Rhodes family-Yang Yu Zhen photos3

It was so fun to receive an update on our little cutie yesterday!  She looks like she’s growing every day!  Here are a few things we now know about Olivia.  She’s 89 cm tall – I’ll make you do your own math!  🙂  I compared that to Julia’s marks on the wall and she’s about as tall as Julia was when she turned 3.  (Olivia turned 2 in March).  She’s 28 lbs, so I’ll be working on those biceps for the next month!

She’s a healthy eater and sleeper (ha, my new baby sleeps through the night!) and naps for 2 hours during the day.  She seems to be able to do almost anything with her hands and doesn’t need any special help.  She’s walking well and won’t need special shoes.

Phil may finally have a mini-me personality-wise.  Julia and Rion are showing strong tendencies of my personality.  (I’m sure the stubborn part of Rion is all Phil though).  Julia’s competitive spirit is alive and well just like mine.  And just to prove that he’s MY son Rion started organizing my very-well-organized pantry yesterday!  🙂  Olivia is apparently much more reserved.  She likes to watch and observe before she gets involved.  They said “she needs time to adapt and understand the stranger” and “she will be very quiet in a strange environment”.  I liked how they described what makes her happy (because it shows how they loved her in the foster home): “Combing her beautiful hair and praise her.  Putting on new clothes sent by her parents will also make her happy and proud.”  I think God knows we needed another quiet person around here.  Of course, I know that won’t always be the case, and we can’t wait to hear three sets of giggles and shouts in our house!

 

Love Crosses Oceans

They’re here!  We’re so excited that our fundraising T-shirts have arrived!  Julie Gumm, Phil’s sister, did such a great job designing these beautiful shirts. We’re still taking orders and will be ordering a second batch very soon.  It has been fun to see who’s buying these.

Some friends and family have ordered shirts mostly because of their support of Olivia’s adoption.  Others have bought them because of their own adoption connections to China and Africa (yes, we have two designs).  One lady saw our link on Facebook and bought one because she herself was adopted from Africa.  I love that the shirts say adoption to us, but to others they might be about their passion for missions or maybe sponsored children through Compassion International or World Vision.

DSC_0096Julia and Rion can’t wait to wear their shirts in China and see Olivia in hers too.  🙂  You can buy yours here.

Redeemed

DSC_0065“I’m ready”, Julia said last night when I asked what she wanted to pray for,  “To ask God to come into my heart”.  What an amazing Easter gift!

We already knew our little girl believed.  Her favorite stories of the Bible are the ones surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus.  She has been able to explain clearly for quite some time now how God planned these events to save us from our sins.  And it is personal for her.  She knows just how much Jesus loves her and that she can always count on him.  She has such a mature understanding that we thought Easter week would be a great time for us to specifically ask her if she’d like to pray to invite Jesus into her heart.  Friday was the big night.  We were a little surprised to hear her simply say, “No, thank you”.  Hmmm.  We just told her that was fine, and that if she felt ready at some time we would be happy to pray with her.  We never wanted her to do it for us, but only once she was ready to make her own decision.  We figured it might be months or years, but we were confident the time would come, because God has been clearly working in her for so long.  I was happily surprised when she said she had been thinking about it yesterday and had decided she was ready.

Watching a little one grow in their faith is such an amazing experience.  Sometimes their faith seems to outpace our teaching and what we could even imagine they could understand.  Just the other night I asked Rion what makes him happy.  His first answer was “Jesus”!  After that came Mama, Julia, Olivia, and Baba (Daddy).  The fact that Jesus could come first tells me that Jesus is actively doing great things in his heart.  This little boy is only just learning to formulate sentences that don’t contain Chinese words.  The hugs, kisses, comforting, games and everything else he gets every day come from those of us he can SEE.  Yet Jesus is already so real to him that He gets first ranking.  Oh please, let Jesus keep that position in Rion’s heart!

We’ve prayed for each of our children before they came into our family.  But God has loved each of them long before we even knew about them.  The Bible tells us that caring for the fatherless is at the very heart of God, that he is a father to the fatherless and that he sets the lonely in families.  Adoption allows us to understand him and know him in a whole new way.  God pursued each of us when we were destitute and alone and he himself adopts those of us as his children who turn to him and trust in his son, Jesus.  Despite the pain and loss that goes along with adoption, I pray that their adoption experience will help our children understand God in a profound way.

Now we get to see that God is already taking care of Olivia.  She is in the care of wonderful Christians who are hopefully already giving her a glimpse of a loving God.  Now we just need to get her home to her forever family!

Happy Easter everyone!

Happy Birthday Olivia Jade!

Today in China there is a little girl celebrating her second birthday.  We have already grown to love her and very soon, she will be ours, so we wanted to introduce her to you.  This is Olivia Jade (aka Hannah), and she currently lives at the very aptly named House of Love in Guilin, China.

Happy Birthday Olivia!  We’re coming for you!

We hope that along with a little party with her friends in her foster home, that she is getting a very special gift.  She has probably already opened her presents, including a little “Olivia” doll, because that’s going to be her name, a recorded book with some voices she doesn’t know yet, and most importantly a photo album full of pictures of her new family: her sister Julia, her brother Rion, her daddy, and ME, her mommy!  If you’d like to help celebrate her birthday, you can help us give her the best present ever, a forever family, by making a tax-deductible gift to her adoption fund.

OliviaBday

The “Olivia” doll is of her literary and television namesake OLIVIA.  Isn’t it great to have your own theme song?

This will be the first time she sees her new family.  Perhaps it will be the first time she’s even told about that she has a new family.  We sure wish we could be a fly on the wall.  In this scene, Olivia’s friend Lydia recently saw her family for the first time, and you get to see the beautiful place, Guilin, where Olivia is being fostered.  Olivia’s other little friend Emmie also recently found out about her family!

Our First Adoption

2009-10-12-DSC_0104

October 12, 2009.  We sat in a room, decorated in red and black and white.  We were surrounded by couples and families.  We, like the other couples, looked around anxiously, hardly able to contain our emotions.  It was probably not the maternity ward most of you experienced.  No labor pains.  Those had taken place in the months and even years leading up to that day.  But tears and smiles from moms and dads.  And yes, crying, very loud crying from babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers.  Most of the parents were Americans.  All of the little girls and boys were Chinese, and their lives were suddenly changing in a huge way!

Our guide Simon, walked up to us and said “she’s here”.  We stood up and walked to the middle of the room.  A lady came out of a side door with a tiny little girl walking beside her.  She had a cute little pixie haircut, yellow bunny shoes, black Mickey Mouse pants, and a red and white striped top.  Tears were in her eyes and she looked so scared and sad.  She had no idea that the two people in the world who loved her more than anything were about to hold her for the first time.  That first day, our hearts were full to exploding with love for our sweet little girl, but Julia was sad and scared.  She had already experienced way too many upheavals in her little life and had no idea what this one meant.

But the next morning we got our first shy smiles.  And the morning after that we heard her laugh at us and she burst out of her shell.  This silly little bundle of joy was the child we’d always dreamed of, full of energy, laughter, and love!  Over the past 3 years we’ve watched her blossom into a sweet, smart little girl, who fills our house with her creative and fun energy.  She is kind and compassionate and already shows an amazing understanding about the world around her and the God who loves her.  We couldn’t ever imagine not being her parents.