Friday, January 28, 2011

A Family Blessed (Three times!)

Although I will get passed over in the hundreds of followers of Kelly's Korner, I want to write this for my few followers and in hopes that it may encourage at least one. Again this week, I COULD NOT pass up the chance to link up with Kelly's Korner 'Show Us Your Life' Friday because this week is on adoption stories! If you know me at all, you will know adoption has richly blessed our family in three ways. I hope this post teaches you to never give up on starting a family and that it is never too late to adopt :) This is going to be a long post but I hope you'll read my story and find encouragement in our Creator's perfect plans.

It started when I was about 6 and I heard talk of my aunt and uncle being unable to have children. I knew she was sad but I had later heard she was going to get a baby. I still remember the day I got to go see my baby cousin at the foster house he was staying at- it happened to be a good friend of my aunt's. With domestic adoption, the parents have 10 days to change their mind after the baby is born so during these days he stayed with a 'foster mom'. I still remember seeing those big blue eyes peering up from the bassinet.

Wesley is no longer a little baby. He is a HUGE teenager- full of life, amazing athlete, and the sweetest kid you'll ever know. Ladies- he's single too!

Then, we again got to be blessed by adoption again as a family. My other aunt and uncle also could not conceive so they began the process to adopt. Time passed and I'll never forget the call I got that this little man had just been born.

Look at that smile! Isn't he precious?

Kaden is all boy- he loves video games and sports AND LOVES his momma and daddy. But I love him because he is also my godson and he LOVES his 'B.' He steals my heart with those big blue eyes and sweet little prayers to Jesus.

People are always surprised to find that Kaden and Wesley are adopted. They are SO much like their parents and even look like them too. To be honest, we forget they are adopted sometimes! Just because your the 'adopted' family member never means you are any part less part of the family.

After Kaden, we thought our family was through growing (at least until I got married and had kids) but we all know that God's plans are not always our plans :) My freshman year of college a children's choir came and performed at our Tuesday Chapel service. They were kids from all over the world who were orphaned. I was so moved by the joy in their faces and the stories they shared. I knew from that day that one day I wanted to adopt. I ran to the dorm to get my checkbook and make a donation and then I called my parents to beg them to consider adoption- they laughed of coarse and thought I was crazy! "People with kids in college don't have babies!"

During Christmas break, my Dad and I were invited to receive free tickets to see Steven Curtis Chapman in concert. My Dad was a huge fan so we gratefully accepted and went on a father daughter outing. After intermission, a video played talking about adoption and how it had blessed the Chapman family with the adoption of their little girls from China. After that, Steven came on stage and shared a song he had just written, "When Love Takes You In." By the end of the song I was heavily sobbing and was sure my Dad had to be too. "Don't you want to adopt now, Dad?" I asked. "We will give a donation, that is more for us," he replied. I was devastated but vowed from that night on to pray that God would stir in hearts to adopt- I just didn't know how close to home that prayer would hit...

Two months later, I was back at college sitting on my dorm room bed one Thursday night when my phone rang- it was my Dad. I was slightly perturbed because he was interrupting my favorite show at the time but what I didn't know was he was about to tell me something that would change my life forever- "Your mom is going to have a baby," he said. I knew this was impossible so I knew this could not be the case. "But really," he said, "we started the process today to adopt." He went on to share how he felt as if he had been running from God for months and after talking and praying with my mom, they were both at peace that this was what God wanted them to do.

We thought the process would be fast- expected about 1 year-a year and a half wait so we rushed to design the perfect room and began dreaming and shopping for adorable girl outfits. We also picked out a name so we could specifically pray for our new family member. Then, we waited.....and waited.......and waited.....and waited some more. I can remember talking on my phone with my mom while I was at college and hearing the distress in her voice knowing that her little girl was over in China and she was just having to wait. God used that time to teach our family so much patience and that His timing is perfect.

I'll never forget the day I got out of class and got the phone call from my dad..."How do you feel about the name Caiyu?" he said. What was he talking about? We named her already. "Because that is your baby sister's Chinese name who is 13 months over in China- we got our referral!" Tears of joy ran down my face and all of the pain of hoping and waiting washed away.

My parents traveled in July of 2007 and my family of four became five. On July 23rd, 2007 "Gotcha Day" Abby Caiyu Schaefer was put into her forever families arms.

Doesn't this picture give you chills? I LOVE it!

On August 1st, 2007 she flew home to Arkansas and I, for the second time in life, became the proudest big sister there ever has been.

Abby is SO much fun. She is sassy, girly, silly, and makes me laugh hysterically until my stomach hurts. She has brought us so much joy and has completely fulfilled our family. I waited 20 years for a sister and finally got one! My mom and I joke she will always have to moms her whole life because when you have a 20+ years older sister, she mothers you too. I love to pick our her clothes, go watch her at gymnastics, read her books, have slumber parties, and take her to the movies. Most of all, I love her hugs and kisses that make this sister's heart overflow! On the days I struggle with being unable to have kids yet, she feels a void.

I think the best thing of this whole process was what God taught our family. Adoption is the perfect picture of Christ's love for us. He seeks us out, loves us no matter what, and desires the day He can call us His. I love this excerpt from Max Lucado in The Great House of God-

"We as biological parents know well the earnest longing to have a child. But in many cases our cribs were filled easily. We decided to have a child and a child came...I've heard of unplanned pregnancies, but I've never heard of an unplanned adoption. That's why adoptive parents understand God's passion to adopt us. They know what it means to feel empty inside. They know what it means to hunt, to set out on a mission, and take responsibility with a spotted past and dubious future. If anybody understands God's ardor for His children, it's someone who has adopted, rescued an orphan from despair, for that is what God has done for us. God has adopted you. God sought you, found you, signed the papers and took you home...for good."

I don't believe my adoption story ends here. My husband and I have both talked about adopting one day. I strongly believe that being a family doesn't see color, if you look alike, or who birthed you, family is tied together by love. I ask you pray that God will show us when and how He would have us answer that calling one day.

I currently serve on the Board of Directors for Bethany Christian Services with my dad and one of my best friends, Monica. If you feel lead to adopt or to donate financially to a great pro-life organization, please check Bethany out.
I challenge you to always have your eyes open to what God may be calling you to d0. If you are someone struggling with infertility, always know there is a way to have a family. Foster Parents and Adoptive parents out there, you are my heroes. My parents could be enjoying the 'empty nest' right now but instead they have chosen to spend their days watching Dora the Explorer and playing dress-up and for that, I love them! People love to tell us how our family has blessed these kids lives and we like to tell them that isn't the case, they've blessed ours.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Single (and he needs to mingle!)

Okay, okay...I've been a terrible blogger! But today I MUST! I'm hooking up with Kelly's Korner-Show Us Your Life- Show Us Your Singles! because I have an adorable single brother!

Isn't he the cutest? (Okay, maybe I'm a tad partial...)
So, to tell you about Blaine...well, he is just Blaine! He is 20 and lives in Central Arkansas. He LOVES music and when he feels like it, is an awesome guitar player. He works, enjoys watching movies and playing video games (typical male, right?). If you know me, Blaine and I are quite opposites- he is laid back and fairly shy. Once you get him talking though, he is super nice and can be really sweet. And as much as I hate to throw this out there, I have to because it is part of who he is...He collects 'urban vinyl toys' and is PASSIONATE about them. Moving on...He has his own house which is really nice and most of the time (not all the time- right, mom?) is a clean freak. He LOVES trying new foods and is a big sushi fan.

To explain this picture, it was taken in Disney World last year. He kind of has a thing for Asian girls and well, I made him get a picture with this big group of girls from Japan. (that's just a fun side note).

Anyways, he is just 20- doesn't have to be anything serious but I thought I would play match maker and throw his cute little self out there. He is a great brother and I would LOVE him to find a sweet girl so ladies...don't miss this great catch!