Saturday, May 26, 2012

Colin is shaving!

Normally, when a new child is welcomed into the family, you've had 9 months to prepare (gestate) and lots of time to move from one phase of life to another.

Well, with adoption, and especially the adoption of older boys, some natural phases are missed.

It is also expected that when adopted children get home to their new families and experience new relationships, new food and new customs, their growth is often accelerated.

We hear stories all the time about kids, even younger children, coming home and growing a full inch in a matter of a month or so and putting on weight almost instantly.  

In our case, our "baby" was already 14 years old and taller than his mama at a whopping 5' 6" tall the day we met.

This week marked 9 months with his new family and Colin has really changed.  He has grown almost 2 full inches since that day and has gone from a thin 127 pounds up to 140!  

And the physical changes are not the only changes that Colin has been experiencing.  This year, he has a family. This year, he has a Mama who adores him and a Father who shepards him and teaches him.  I am so glad that the Lord chose us to parent this child and very happy that he can go through these years with a mom and dad that will help him transition into the man God has created him to be.

Silly as it may seem, one of these significant milestones came today.

It finally arrived. 

I have been telling Colin for a month or two now that the day would soon arrive when it was time for him to shave.

He would giggle and shake his head, "no".  He did not see the need for this, but...

Today-- today was the day.

Tom took him upstairs to our bathroom and his first shaving lesson commenced.

Splash a little water...

  Apply a little shaving cream...

add in a few giggles...

a short demonstration....

and away we go...

yeah, that sideways move would soon cost him...

time for that soft mustache to go!

a little clean up by Dad...

Tom told Colin he could shave in our bathroom for awhile so that the "littles" in the house did not bother or tease him too badly.

One small knick later, a little toilet paper and Mama had a clean shaven baby boy!

Ok, clearly, he is not a baby, but he is so sweet! (Ask anyone!)

Part of the sad part of adoption is all those moments that you miss. The first steps, the first word, the first smile.  

We missed all of this, but God in His loving kindness allowed us to be there today for his first shave.  

And to think..I will get to do this three more times! :-)


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Glimpses of the past

Colin had the joy of dental work today.  This has been an area of concern since we first met him. You see, it is quite common for children from other countries to have less than stellar dental hygiene.  We were well prepared for this when we met him in Ch*na.

All in all, I was pleased that he did as well as he did on his first dental visit.  If you missed that post, you can read up on it here.

Today, we took him in to get 2 cavities filled. (or so we thought). I tried to prepare him for what that would involve.  He was also scheduled for sealants and an orthodontic consult.  Once the dentist examined him, she quickly decided not to fill both cavities in the same day so that she would not put him through too much all at once.

He was a real trooper. Of course, he is 14 and not about to show fear unless absolutely necessary, but a mama knows.  I made sure he had his laughing gas to help ease the tension.  His cavity was in a difficult spot to reach, so they really put him through the ringer to get the job done!

After all that, it was time to go in for an orthodontics consult.  That was a no brainer. So, we quickly signed away our lives finances and proceeded with spacers and molds and lots of Xrays. 

The dentist recommended that I stay with him and keep a close eye on him this evening, so I stayed home from Orchestra practice and hung out with my favorite teenager. 

Once the novicaine wore off, we had a nice conversation.  It was nice to chat with him and see him so relaxed and willing to talk.

Those less familiar with international adoption of older children might be surprised that this is such a big deal, but when you bring a child into your home who has a past that you were not a part of, there are so many things about them that you don't know.  I think every adoptive parent has experienced a time when they wish their child could answer all their questions about their childhood and the caregivers, friends and teachers from their past.  Often, those holes of information are never filled. 

But, every once in awhile, a crack appears in the armor of an older child.  Tonight was one of those nights.  We have had moments like this before, but each time we get to be alone and talk, I learn a little more about my son and the experiences that have shaped his personality.

I have often remarked to friends about how surprised and grateful I am that our son has grown up to be such a fine young man, despite his difficult beginnings.  I am so grateful to God for protecting my son from becoming angry or bitter. He could have easily become scared and untrusting, but he is anything but.  I am certain apart from God's grace, I would not have faired as well.

   It opened the window for me to tell him that he had a family now and that he could always count on us to protect and care for him.  I acknowledged that the adults in his past didn't always protect him and care for him the way that he deserved, but that God has always loved him and that his Father and I would never leave him.  I could see in his eyes that he understood and that he believed me.

I am very grateful for that cavity and for the chance to spend some quality time with Colin tonight.  I am grateful to the Lord for allowing me to parent this wondferful child. Our lives are better because of it.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cooper Rylands

We are so excited to finally share here that we are adopting again.


(I know, it seems like we do that a lot around here...)
But, we are so excited about this little guy!

Cooper Rylands  

Cooper will turn 9 years old at the end of May. 
  (So, yes, it has finally happened!- The Rylands will have to take the slow route to China this time and wait in line like everyone else!)
Help us Lord! :-)


On April 23, I was visiting a few adoption blogs and saw this precious boy being advocated for on a blogger friend's page.
You can read the post here.  "Matthew", as he was named for purposes of advocacy is mentioned here along with two other sweeties who still need families. 
Much like my other two boys, he literally hit me in the heart.  BAM!
An older picture, but how CUTE is he???
What was so strange about this one was that I was NOT looking for another child. 

Now, in my line of work, I see lots of PRECIOUS children who are waiting for parents.  And I often share their sweet faces with my hubby who enjoys hearing their stories and occasionally comments on how cute they are...

but this one, this was different. On this night, I showed him this little treasure and he took notice. Not a passing notice, but actually stopped what he was doing and read the blog post. He read about this boy with interest.  
The next day, he happened to be talking to one of his grown daughters and I heard him talking about this child. (Read: ears perked up!)  I heard him tell her what a doll he was and how she might consider adoption one day.  When their conversation was over, he asked me to email her a picture of him.  (Hmmm..)

Well, I prepared the email and then asked, "Is there anything you want me to add or shall I just send the picture?"  His response was, "Sure. Tell her that he would make a great middle child." (for her)  
That's when I knew.  
Right there in that moment, I knew that I couldn't write those words because he wasn't her child. (Not that she isn't an amazing mom, but...) 

He was my child.  

But, how could that be?  I wasn't looking for another child. I have three unbelievable blessings already and...

Oh yeah, God. 
One thing I can say is that, in my experience with adoption, God has never taken the subtle route with us.  Maybe we are too hard headed for that! LOL  
With each and every one of our adoptions, God has made His choice for our family crystal clear!  I hear from families all the time that they know they are meant to adopt, but have no idea which child God has in mind for them, or which country or ???.  
Sorry, can't relate.  Each one of our children came to us suddenly and with absolute certainty. And I have to say, I am glad of that.  

So, it is with the utmost joy that we prepare for our 4th son.  Let the craziness begin! (again)

God also knows that I need, he arranged to have two other families travel to his orphanage recently who would be able to send me pictures and video!
Here he is ya'll!
Watch Video Here:

Once again, we dive full speed ahead into home studies and medical clearances and...and...and...

And, lest you think that Tom and I are the only ones on board with this new plan....

We found these shirts recently and Colin insisted that we get one for Cooper too, so we had to pull them out for the family photo shoot. The boys were real troopers that night despite the swarm of mosquitoes that plagued us...

We are becoming quite the ball team
and can't wait till we can fill that last seat of the dining table!

For the record, Tom insists that he is burning the table leaf! LOL

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's Day

Our first Mother's Day as a family of 5!

Well, to say that this Mother's Day is a little different than all those that have come before would be such an understatement.

(Tom always says that I have the gift of understatement!)

This year, I am celebrating with not one, but THREE very special boys!

Saturday night, my boys all took me out to dinner to celebrate Mother's Day.  We enjoyed our meal and the boys were perfect gentlemen.  Doors were opened for me by my sweet boys. I even overheard Colin telling Tommy to "be good"..."today is Mom's Day".

At dinner, I received this beautiful necklace from my guys. It is a "bird's nest" with little egglets.
Our friend, Jessica Carpenter makes these beauties to raise money for her adoption fund. I LOVE being able to support orphan care when we shop. 

I also received these two very sweet Mother's Day cards- one from my dear husband and one from my boys. 
 The cards were great, but what I will treasure forever was the note inside the boys' card.
In case you can't read this well...

Tom wrote at the top,
"I Love My Mom Because..."

And each boy took turns writing their conclusion to that sentence.

Tommy: "...she loves me."
Cameron: "she chose me."
Colin: "gave me a family."

I almost stopped breathing. How can a simple little piece of handwriting paper mean so much?

It was not lost on me that for my older two boys, this is the first time they have ever celebrated having a mama of their own.

Of course, each of them has a Mother. And while the boys are celebrating me this year, I am forever grateful for their birth moms. These two women, regardless of the details of their lives- chose life for my two boys.

They chose to put them into a position where they could be loved and cared for by our family-and for that, I am forever grateful. 

Because of their sacrifice, my Tommy has two of the best big brothers I could have asked for. Because of their decisions, we have the opportunity to share the love of Christ with these two children.

So, today, on Mother's Day, I say a prayer of thanksgiving for the blessings God has given me. 

I also find myself looking back over the past year....

A year ago, we were starting our home study to bring Colin home from China. 
We were excited, but mostly, just exhausted. The pace of completing everything in time was oppressive.  

With Colin's adoption, we received so much support from our family (well, most of them) and friends. Our community of believers rallied to support us with their prayers and their finances, their time and their talents.  It was amazing to see God open doors so that we could bring this amazing boy home.

With Cameron's adoption, mere weeks after our homecoming with Colin, we began to receive questions about our sanity and our judgement. And this was tough, but not for the reasons you might think. 

It was tough, because we couldn't understand how anyone would ever begrudge a child the chance to have a Mom and Dad to love.  
It was beyond our comprehension how people who have so much could think it somehow wrong to open your home to a child in need. We seriously had people tell us they would not, could not, support this again. I mean, once was ok, but twice?  Who did we think we were?

We heard things like, "What are you trying to do, save the world?" and "How in the world can you afford this?"and my personal favorite, "What's wrong with the kids in our country?"

Now, as I said, as aggravating as it was to hear these criticisms from family and "friends", what was most upsetting was that all of these individuals claimed the name of Christ. These were Christians that were sitting in judgement of our obedience.

That is what hurts. That anyone would claim the name of Christ and then openly judge someone who chooses to obey God's commandment to care for orphans in their distress...James 1:27.

It hurt my heart that someone would be so removed from the very heart of God that they could see, even for a minute, adoption as wrong.  There is no Biblical standard of wealth, or intellect, or age whereby God calls us to care for the least of these.  We are ALL called to orphan and widow care. All of us.  

So as we are celebrating Mother's Day, and as I look into the eyes of my three sons, I am so grateful to God for softening my heart to the needs of these orphans and for handpicking these two incredible boys for our family!

I am grateful that He has given me a deeper understanding of His heart and of my own "adoption in Christ".  

I am grateful. I am just so grateful.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Please share--"William" needs a family!

Our son (L) with his best friend
Friends, many of you remember when Colin and I traveled to China in December to get his brother, Cameron from Wuhan.  While there, we had the privilege of meeting Cameron’s best friend, “William” on Lifeline’s individual list, (together for 6 years!) and to give him his first gift bag/photo album.  He was originally matched with a family from our town who we adore.  When given a large bag full of clothes and goodies, the ONLY thing he grabbed from that bag was his family photo album.

Here he is looking at his "new family"
For reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with the child, this sweet family has made the very difficult decision to return his file and not pursue his adoption.  This is heartbreaking to me for so many reasons.  I haven’t had the heart to tell my son yet that his best friend may not be coming home to Charleston after all.  I must do everything in my power to find his forever family so that this story can have a happy ending, no matter where that leads him.
This young boy who turned 13 last week is beyond precious.  I have lots of video of him and pics galore!  Please contact me or Annie Hamlin to learn more about him.  Wuhan is a nice facility and the director is a physician.  The kids receive good medical/dental care.  Kim Jackson also brought her daughter Jenny home from Wuhan and would be happy to share her experiences with an interested family too.

Our crew with Jenny Jackson
If you feel the Lord leading you to care for an orphan through adoption, I strongly urge you to pray about “William”.  I am thrilled that the Chinese adoption authority has granted his file to Lifeline so that we can search for a Godly home for this precious child.
 Will you join me in praying for his family to find him soon?  This is his last year of eligibility.  Thank you!
You can check out more about "William" on the Lifeline website here:

Saturday, May 5, 2012

We have a Wii!!!!

Today was the Big Day!  Today, after a last minute and oh, so convenient visit from the tooth fairy...

The boys finally had enough money saved to purchase the Wii game from our sweet friends, the Hester Family!

Not only are my boys excited about their new "toy", but they worked together in raising the funds and were able to bless another family while supporting orphan care all at the same time!

Phew! If only all our goals were able to accomplish this much!

Just a few shots of the setup and initial game...

Now, to start sharing....we'll keep you posted on that one. Two controllers for three "controllers". Hmmm...

Special thanks for the Hesters for blessing our boys with a very expensive toy at yard sale prices!  They are a very happy bunch!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Common Goal ~ A Clean House!

Life with boys is NEVER dull!

  But, every once in awhile, they pull together and it is a beautiful thing to behold.

Their most recent scheme endeavor is to purchase a gaming system for the house. (ok, I have resisted this as long as I could....)

Colin hit the jackpot when a neighbor asked him to care for their dog while they went on vacation for a week.  The money he made was a big "jump start" to this plan.

What was really cool about this, (and really, about this boy in general) is that he got his two younger brothers together, presented the plan to pool their funds and purchase a game system for the family.

Yes, you heard me 14 year old son.  

The son who has the most earning potential!  
The son who grew up with no real possessions of his own...
the son who undoubtably knew that his 7 & 10 year old brothers would not really be able to contribute much, but who wanted them to have some ownership in the process.

In no time, they had over $65 saved!  

So, Mom & Dad (that's us old folks) decided to help them out. Problem is, we don't believe in hand outs for our kids.  We also don't do allowance.  But, we want them to learn how to responsibly handle money while they have no bills!

So, this is where we landed.

We decided to create a "chore chart" for our crew.  

Each day, in addition to their schoolwork, they have certain responsibilities that help us keep the house in order.  

If these chores are completed (well) and with a good attitude, (read: without complaining) then they will have the privilege to complete EXTRA chores for money. (Don't you just have to LOVE parental psychology?)

Talk about motivating!  My house has not been this clean in ages! (No judgements, please!) 

These are not high paying jobs, but they are opportunities for the boys to work together to contribute to the common goal.
If you have very good eyesight, then you will notice that one of the chores--ironing--was adjusted.  Dear Colin decided he wanted to tackle ironing last night. So, while we all watched Karate Kid 2 for "Family Movie Night"

Watch out world!

Colin got his first lesson on ironing clothes.  He did amazingly well for his first attempt.  **3** hours later, I decided that all that work had to be worth more than $.10/shirt, so we upped it to a whopping $.25/shirt!

By the time he went to bed, (complete with tired shoulders) he had successfully ironed 28 shirts! He was so pleased with himself!
(And mama was pretty darn thrilled too!)

Then, there were windows that needed cleaning...15 of them!
Cameron working on windows!

Tommy working on the windows!
A whole $1.50 later...I had clean windows. On the inside, anyway...

Last weekend, the boys all joined forces to wash the two vehicles, vacuum them out and clean the windows. Tom was leading them in their first attempt to wash a truck, and well...I am going to have to let HIM post about that experience.  On that blissful day, my honey let me stay inside and Nap! (A famous three letter word that you don't hear much in these least not associated with me!)

So, there are no pictures of this madness family time.
But, rumor has it that it all ended well.  

To date, they have saved earned about $85! Way to go boys!

Of course, if you read here often, then you know how much I like to point out how much God is in the details of our lives and how He cares about the "silly little" things that we care about.  

Well, this is no different.  After the boys had hatched this "plan", we found out that our dear friends were selling their Wii system to help raise money for their adoption!  An adoption of a little boy that I advocated for.  

What a joy to be able to help them fund their adoption as they raise money for the orphanage donation.  An added joy was the price that they could give our boys--saving them lots off the retail price of such a toy.

So, they are close.  So close in fact, that I am already brainstorming their next "savings goal"!  A girl can get used to driving a clean car and coming home to a clean house! 

What??!! I'm just sayin'!