Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What's in a name...

The night that the kids and I arrived in New Smyrna Beach, and I shared the details of Xiao Xiao's file with our Aunt and Uncle,  Aunt Diane ran right into their library and grabbed a book of Saint names. 

Together, we looked up some of the pertinent dates in Xiao Xiao's life to see if there were any stand-out names, but nothing. None of the names jumped out at us at all. So I grabbed a yellow pad and began to jot down some of my favorite names as they popped into my head.

By the end of the night, we had some strong contenders, but I knew that I had a "Board of Directors" who would need to give me their valuable input, too.

The next day, Jimmy and I shuffled the necessary emails back and forth to submit our Letter of Intent to adopt Xiao Xiao.

Later in the day, I noticed that I had a voice mail message on my cell phone. It wasn't surprising that I missed the call, as my cell service is always sketchy up there.

The call was from a friend sister-in-Christ who had intended to call me for a while but life got busy. She had never called me before this day, and had just come across my business card the day before. She felt the timing was right, and planned to call me soon. Shortly thereafter, she went to grab her sunglasses from a shelf, but they were stuck on something. When she further investigated, she found that they were stuck on my book, which had been sitting on her shelf for months. Interesting timing, right?

Well, she went on to say that she picked up the book, couldn't put it down, and proceeded to read the whole story that night. She laughed and cried. She felt both the joy and the pain of loving Daniel. She felt compelled to reach out and embrace me verbally the next day.

And then she said this, "Today, on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, the Feast Day of the ultimate foster father, I went to church this morning, and I prayed for your family." 

As I listened to those words from her sweet message, goosebumps flooded my entire body. In that solitary moment, I knew in my heart that the Holy Spirit had just worked through her to give our son his name:


It was March 19th. It was the Feast Day of Saint Joseph. And we had submitted our Letter of Intent to adopt him that morning.

I quickly found my yellow pad where I had been listing our potential boy names, and, to my amazement, guess what name topped the list?  Yep...but I had no idea--when I first wrote it--that it would be so meaningful the very next day (pictured post-scribbles). And yesterday, when I originally posted this, I was quickly informed by a Facebook friend that Joseph means "God will increase." How appropriate.

His middle name will be Holt. It is a family name in our Danish lineage, and it belonged to my Grandfather...the Grandfather who shares Joseph's birthday.  Holt also happens to be the name of our adoption agency that has now matched us with our three sons.  Lastly, it is also the given middle name of his cousin, Matthew, (my brother's son), so we love that these boys will share that common thread.

And, as we've done with our other children, we will keep Xiaoxiao in there, too.

I've received the proper approvals from all of our household officials: Madi, Jimmy, Charlie (in that order)

He is Joseph Holt Xiaoxiao Murphy.

And we hope and pray we receive our Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from China soon, so we can bring him home.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Call

The day after we released the file that I mentioned in my last post, the kids and I packed up the car and headed up to New Smyrna Beach to visit Aunt Diane and Uncle Rick (perhaps you read about them in With an Open Heart). The drive is a few hours and Spring Break seemed like the perfect excuse for a little road trip to get away for a couple of days.

About half an hour into our adventure, my cell phone rang. It was Beth from Holt, our adoption agency. She had just come across a new file on the shared list of a little boy, and she wanted to know if we were interested in taking a look. The only thing that flashed through my mind was our social worker's comment from the day before when we released that file:

"You cannot feel badly. If God has a different child for you 
and you say yes to this child, then what?" 

Just one day later, it seemed God's plan was already unfolding. Beth mentioned that--out of all the families waiting for referrals--we were only one of a few families who are open to adopting a boy. 

Suffice it to say, that hit my heart. 

I knew there wasn't much hope of accessing any information from my cell phone, so Beth said she'd send the file to Jimmy, since I was on the road. I could hardly wait to get to New Smyrna to find out more. We were given a limited time to accept the referral, and if we were at all interested in obtaining additional information, we would need to submit a Letter of Intent to adopt him the next day in order to lock his file.

We arrived in New Smyrna a couple of hours later, and I instantly clued our dear relatives in to what was happening. They graciously allowed me to hop on their computer, so I could look over this file and read all about this little boy.

Now, if you know me at all, you know that I'm really tied in to signs and connections and all that good stuff...well, when I saw little guy's Chinese name, I felt a connection right away. His name is Xiao Xiao. Madi's Chinese name is Xiao Yuan, and we called her Xiao Xiao as a baby!

And this child...he has my Grandpa's birthday of January 14th. He and I were very, very close, and he's been gone for years, yet I still--every year--remember him on his birthday. 

Xiao Xiao just turned five, so that puts him slightly out of birth order in our family, with Charlie about nine months behind. The boys will be close in age, so we are hopeful that the dynamic will work out just fine. We realize that Xiao Xiao could be delayed in many ways, especially since he has spent his entire life in the orphanage and has had no formal education. We think the timing will be perfect for him to learn how to be part of a family.

His medical needs seem minor, compared to some of the files we'd recently reviewed, and I could see that Jimmy truly felt a sense of peace about this one. He was born with clubbed feet, a medical condition which happens to run in Jimmy's family! Xiao Xiao was given a surgery to repair his left foot in China last Summer. The file included pictures, and he was reported to be quite mobile. 

Our LOI was submitted the next day.

I think it was pretty much a "no-brainer" from the get-go. He is adorable, and we pray he'll fit right into our family. Please keep him in your prayers as he waits for us.

Friday, April 25, 2014

All signs lead to...

We were "expecting" a girl. 

But we are constantly learning, still, that God's plan doesn't always align with ours in life.  In my last post, I mentioned the season of Lent and how the red thread of this adoption process was woven through our Lenten journey. 

It all started on the First Day of Lent with a call from our agency. The referral should have been perfect...a little girl, the right age. We had a certain time frame to abide by, which gave us time to do the research and to search our hearts. This little girl was everything we'd hoped for in a referral. But for some unforeseen reason, Jimmy and I couldn't not find peace about moving forward. 

The day our decision was due, I called our agency in a panic and asked for more time. Just the weekend to pray about it. They obliged, and we cried out for signs from above. Jimmy and I needed the Holy Spirit to show us the way.

When Monday morning came, there was nothing. I was heartbroken that there was nothing in the way of a feeling, or a Godwink, because I wanted it to work, but I knew in my heart that it wasn't right. Jimmy did too.

I sent a message to our social worker. We had discussed the plan. I felt torn, and she said this:

"You cannot feel badly. If God has a different child for you and you say yes to this child, then what?"

And then I saw this posted, that very morning, by a Facebook friend, who is a sister in Christ.

It brought tears to my eyes. This was--literally--our sign. We could have peace in our hearts either way, regardless of our decision. The Lord would still be there for us, whichever way we turned.

And with that, we sent an email to Holt to set this little girl's file free.

It is a pleasure to joyfully report today that this little beauty's family has been found, and her file was locked shortly thereafter. 

To know that our "no" gave way to another family's "yes" gives us tremendous peace and a sense of confirmation that we are on the right path.

To be continued...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Our son

I have mixed feelings about the season of Lent ending.  Don't get me wrong...I am overwhelmed by the joy that Easter brings and the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus for all humanity, but each year, through the Lenten journey, I am brought closer to Him in ways that change me forever. The walk with Jesus is amazing, and so very humbling, isn't it?

This one was filled with unimaginable blessings and unexpected surprises, as we now prepare our hearts for a son.

Our son.

I am in awe at what's transpired in this forty days and how God has blessed us. It makes me only want to walk in more faithfulness. I will share more in the days to come, but our plan has changed. He has revealed our child.

He has changed our hearts.

We've reviewed many files of girls who need families in China, but for some reason beyond explanation, we could not find peace about them, and then after our Olivia whose file we set free, we could not wholeheartedly say "yes" to another referral.

And even as He handed us this new gift of life, I still fought. I fought because His will was not mine. Does that sound familiar?

But when I finally gave way from my wants and desires to His, it is all falling into place...the signs, the financial provision, the peace.

As I sat in Mass this morning celebrating Jesus risen and our hope of salvation, I felt that peace. Easter was the only Holy Day we spent together with our son, Daniel, in our lives. I can't imagine a more meaningful Holy Day to spend with him. He went to Heaven only weeks after.

There in the pew, as we rejoiced because Jesus ascended into Heaven, we also rejoiced that Daniel is with Him. And then my mind was drawn to imagining life with another son to love with all our hearts.

Another son to celebrate Easter with. Thank you, Jesus.

With tear-filled eyes and a hope-filled heart, I thank you. We are so excited for this little book to travel across the world. We pray it brings your peace to our son while he waits for us to come.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Divine weekend

Madi had her first Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation last weekend. It was a truly beautiful and overwhelming experience to see our daughter walking into the light of Christ and confessing her sins.

In typical Madi fashion, she was totally prepared for the special occasion. Once she sat down across from the priest, she pulled out a folded piece of paper, which turned out to be a rather large piece of paper!  Oh, the list!

We celebrated when she was finished, and she admitted that it was much easier than she thought it would be. I love the fact that we can now go to confession together. Perhaps this will get us there more often!

On Sunday, Charlie had his first preschool singing performance in the chapel. He was so adorable, but something came over him that resulted in our boy being completely zoned out and exhausted! We waved our arms around like monkeys trying to get his attention, but no such luck...he was in a trance. 

Charlie proceeded to yawn four or five times throughout the performance, and I truly thought he was going down! He was rubbing his eyes like crazy, and he seriously looked like he was going to fall asleep right in the middle of it. He nearly tripped walking off the stage. Poor guy. But even with that, he managed to sing every song with almost all the proper gestures he was supposed to make. 

When I asked him what happened, Charlie told me that he was nervous. It totally brought back memories to a dance recital, about ten years ago, and the same thing happened to me before I went on stage. I could not stop yawning! Someone told me it's a biological response to stress when the body needs extra oxygen. My little boy is just like me!

Thankfully, he was fully recovered (thanks to juice and donuts in his classroom) by the time we went to lunch with Bubba and Grandpa.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Gift of New Life

We were blessed, last weekend, with an incredibly meaningful donation for our adoption, and we feel tremendously grateful to be the recipients of so much love and support on our adoption journeys.  It is a humbling experience.

A dear family came into our lives a little over a year ago. We share many similarities, one of them being the red thread connection of children adopted from China. While I became close to the Mom in this family, Jimmy became friends with her son. He helped this young man find a home, and these guys forged a bond that will be lasting.

We just found out, through a beautifully written letter, that this friend became engaged to the woman who has stirred his heart and whom he has fallen in love with. Their relationship has been blessed with a strong spiritual connection that they've embraced and nurtured. They believe they came into each other's lives "because of something bigger" than themselves. The letter is far too personal to give verbatim, but I would like to share the story, since it is such an awesome testimony of faith and goodness.

This young man wanted his fiance's ring to be very special. He truly did not want to "commercialize" their relationship, and with that wish, his loving and supportive mother stepped in and offered him the diamond that his father had given her.  She said that she would be completely honored for her daughter-in-law to wear her special ring.

Because his mother refused to accept any money for the diamond, he asked her where he could donate some money as a gesture of thanksgiving for what she'd done. She suggested one of her favorite charities, Half the Sky, but then said to him, "You know...your friend Jim is raising money to go back to China to adopt another child."

He told his mom, "That's where the money should go."

And just like that, we became the recipients of this generous gift! Jimmy and I were both brought to tears at such a gracious expression of love and faith.

We've promised this sweet couple that they will be a part of our child's life. What a beautiful way to start an engagement in union with our Lord and savior! We are so thankful for the Hand of God in this adoption!