Tuesday, August 16, 2016

prayers for a birth mother

This is the week of Abby Grace's 2nd birthday! I am so proud of how she is catching on to so many things, and how her language, all kinds of motor skills and eating has been improving, and it's exciting to celebrate her. But as I plan how to decorate a Hello Kitty cake and cute birthday banners, I can't help but think about her birth mom in China. We know nothing about her, except that she loved her enough to put her in a place where she would be cared for and could find a forever family. The only thing that was left on her other than clothes was a note that had her birthday written on it. Unlike our boys whose birthdays are a guess, we know for certain that her birthday is August 16. Which also leads me to believe that her birth mom will remember this date. I cannot even fathom the emotions that might be associated with this date for her. The loss and sacrifice that she experienced is nothing I have a frame of reference for... But I have a love that is deep for the baby that she carried for those months. She did something so brave and loving by birthing her and caring for her for a few months before she had to make what I believe would be the hardest choice- to bring her to an orphanage. She may not even know if her precious baby survived since she obviously had some physical issues (like a need for heart surgery) and she may have just not been able to provide the care that she needed or had to money for medical procedures. I wish I could let her know that Abby Grace is doing amazing, and her smiles can bring joy to anyone who cares to look at her. I wish she could know that she made it to 2 years old... and because of the surgery, and the way that God is healing her from the inside out, she can live a long life. I wish she knew about how she has a lovely set of brothers who adore her and a daddy who thinks she hung the moon, and a momma who would do anything to protect her. I wish she could know how her choice of life for Abby Grace changed our lives in SO many ways. Having a daughter is amazing and as much as I love my boys, this girl has my heart in a different way. Going through all the struggles of surgery and hospitals has been stretching and challenging, but we see God's hand in all of it. And I get to be the one who celebrates her birthdays, development milestones and enjoy her smiles everyday. Her laugh is crazy cute and she snuggles up on my shoulder when she hugs me. She loves to give kisses and plays ring around the rosy like a pro (thanks to her brothers!) This girl with the sparkly black eyes, hands that long to hold yours, who loves purses, shoes and hairbows, and a smile that lights up a room- she calls me Momma.  I look into the precious eyes of all my three littles and I seriously cannot believe that I get to be their Mom- that they run to me with joy when I pick them up from church, and who snuggle with me first thing every morning. They cry for me when they are sad, sick or scared and sometimes, a Momma hug is all that they need. I seriously LOVE adoption and the beautiful picture of God's grace that it can show to the world. Adoption is about a family that is grafted together that might never had existed, but God uses to strengthen all those in the family. As much as it is about togetherness and love, it is about loss and heartache. Tears come to my eyes as I held Abby Grace before bed and prayed out loud for her birth mother who might be about to get up on the day that she most likely will remember as one of the hardest of her life. I pray that she would not only find peace that she did what she could for Abby Grace and that she is well cared for now, but that even more important she would know about the God who created her and who loves her enough to give His son on her behalf.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Abby Grace~

There is so much to tell from the picking up of Abby Grace (in March) to the now (July...). I am just going to try to write a bit to catch up with the present!

We got our boys sent to America via my mom, and Ryan and I got house clean, not knowing when we would come back to it, and headed on a plane to China! There is really no other feeling like the anticipation and joy and a little bit of freaking out when you get off that plane in the homeland of your future child. China is full of people and cars and noise, but Ryan and I felt like it was quiet compared to India! We were in a city in central China, Hefei, and we stayed at a nice Holiday Inn. We found the nearest Walmart and walked up the streets, enjoying the amazing surroundings. We bought a stroller and some strange looking snacks to get the full Chinese cultral experience, and then we ate dinner at a Cafe on the side of the road. They had a picture menu and I had an app with translation, but even with that, I have no idea what we ordered! It was tasty and we could see that our limited Chinese would not get us very far! We found ourselves looking around at all the people and wondering if our baby girl would grow up to look like the beautiful people we saw.

The next day we got up early and had a breakfast with butterflies in our stomachs knowing as we ate, our girl was being brought to the meeting place from her orphanage. We got to the meeting place first and filled out a few more papers and checked the info and name spellings on documents. Finally, SHE ARRIVED! She was dressed in layers and layers of clothes... and a pink coat with bunny ears on the hoodie. She was holding tightly to the nanny that brought her and a few other ladies had come and were encouraging her to let go and come to me. I did not want to force her. I cannot even imagine what could be going through your mind at 20 months to have everything you had known before change and you cannot even communicate! One of the ladies gave me a strawberry cookie and said she would like me if I gave it to her. She did. Came right to me! She was so light and it seemed like she could blow away if the wind blew right. She cried on and off but we tried to make her feel comfortable with us. We walked the halls while they did more paper work and some official signings. I absolutely fell SO in love from that first glance at her. Even as she was pushing me away and crying, I was just completely overwhelmed to be this girl's mom!! Once we made it back to the hotel, things got better for her as she started to warm up to us. We took off her four layers of clothes, and really were shocked to see how tiny she was. And the way that her breathing was labored and seemed to take a lot of energy. I just tried to not worry and just figured it was all part of her heart issue and would be fixed with surgery. I was encouraged by a friend who said, "she does not know any different." Its true. Everyday before her surgery was full of retractions and labored breaths. She loved to take a bath and started smiling with us. She could not walk on her own, but would take a few steps if you held her hands. She would not cry for more than a minute at a time (maybe because of the labored breathing) and she would point to her bed and put herself to sleep when she was tired. We explored around the city and even took a day trip to see the orphanage she was from. That day turned out better than I could have planned. She had started to bond with us and I was scared that she would be confused and want to go back to the nannies and her life there again, but she seemed to cling to me even more and did not have a desire to go into the places that had been all she had known before. She did give her favorite nanny a few hugs and smiles and the nanny seemed so sad to say goodby, but i think she was thankful that Abby Grace was now in a loving family who could get her the medical care she needed.

Then we headed to Guangzhou to get her US visa processed. We also met up with lots of other adoptive families and it was so amazing to hear their stories and see their newly joined family members and how they were like Abby Grace and attaching to new parents. We went shopping and sightseeing and would take our new little ones out to eat. It was so amazing! We felt like our lives were in slow motion compared to the action packed life with the tornado twins and overseas living. Several things made us a bit worried about Abby Grace's health but nothing seemed too out of the ordinary and we did not feel we needed to find a Dr in China. Until the middle of night, right before we caught a plane to America the next morning; she could hardly breathe. I have never seen a kid work so hard to do something so simple as take a breath and it was overwhelming. Here it is the middle of the night in China, where we don't speak the language or know much of how to get around and I am gripped with fear to where I cannot hardly breathe either. I have never felt fear like that. I may have lived overseas too long, but I am pretty sure it was spiritual warfare! I fell on my knees and for the first time I cried. I cried full of fears with her health being out of my control. I cried for the many months that she had lived with a huge hole in her heart without people around her who could give her life saving surgery. I cried grieving the many other nights I had not been able to care for her. I cried for the struggle I could see ahead on this girls road to a normal life. Most of all I cried out to God to save my baby girls life. I know our kids are not ours, they are God's- but adoption and then a kid with2 special health needs just make it even more obvious that our kids are NOT ours. They are a loan from God and he gives and he could take away, and in all things deserves the praise. As I stayed with my face in carpet still sobbing and praying, I listened for her every breath, and I kept adding more oils which seemed to help her breathing some. When it was finally time to get up (even though I had not slept ANY. Not exactly how you want to start a 30 hour flight with a one year old who met you only two weeks prior) Ryan gets an email that they have postponed one of our flights and it messed up our whole itinerary. We grab some breakfast and load up hoping to get our flight fixed so we can get home and get the baby to the Dr. It took some work, but we made it on another flight that left us in Houston for the overnight, but since Ryan's mom lives there she could pick us up and let us sleep at her house and then take us back in the morning for the puddle jump up to Little Rock. The whole long plane route from China to DC, Abby Grace was struggling to breathe. We could keep her happy with snacks, but pretty much the whole ride is a blur to me. The fear grabbed my heart again and I seriously was not sure if she was going to make it to the US alive. Sounds so extreme now, but it was so real then. I know now that she needed Oxygen and there should have been some on the plane and a Dr. would have been available to look at her if I had just asked. But we made it. We were united with our boys who we missed tremendously and we were so excited to have them meet their Mei Mei (little sister in Chinese) She started calling them Ga Ga, which I thought was baby talk until my Chinese friend said it was Big Brother in Chinese. I was shocked that she not only knew how to say it, but associated it with the fast moving brown boys who were kissing all over her.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Whats in a name?

I love a good name story, and I always knew I wanted my kids to be given names that not only sound cool, but have a deeper meaning. And that it would be something that could point others to Christ. When we got our little girls pic, Ryan was totally the one who was head over heels immediately. We had thought through several names, with meanings about Grace, Joy, and Holy. I felt like when we saw her, we would know what to call her. After we sent in the email that we were ready to be her family, I got excited to name her, but none of the names screamed "THATS IT" so we thought through several more options. We finally settled on Abigail Grace Rainbolt. We will call her Abby Grace. I love the thought of calling her both names, but seriously the sweetest thing about it is when her brothers talk about her. They love her so much! They saw a cute baby at the park yesterday and Josiah told me, "That is a cute girl, and maybe her name is Abby Grace too. Abby Grace means she is really cute." HAHA! I love three year olds. Abigail actually means, "My Father's Joy" and for many years, Ryan and I have dreamed about raising a girl some day and when he talks about her he gets this far off look of peace and joy in his eyes and I know she already has him wrapped around her tiny finger. That baby girl is going to be so loved by him and all of us and she will bring joy to those she meets. Already they remarked that she smiles alot and seems to be happy in all her pictures. Not only is the apple of her Daddy's eye, but she is so deeply lover by her Father in heaven who has not for a moment left her alone. I find that I miss her, and imagine what she is doing. I unintentionally have been waking up early, and its about the time that she would be waking up in her place in China. I pray that she finds love today as she starts a new day, and that somehow she will be at little prepared for the change that is coming. I see another 1-2 year old girl and I wonder if she is that same size or see clothes and picture them on her. I hear a song about how God heals our hearts and I pray for her. I cleaned out a spot in the boys closet for her clothes.

We found out that the orphanage will not be able to do her surgery, but they said they will expedite her file so instead of June, we may go to china in April! Exciting and scary! We really are going into uncharted waters. We don't know what kind of heart surgery will be needed exactly... but with the fact that she seems to be doing better than many kids with open holes in their heart, we are very hopeful. She is still small, and even though this kind would usually have been fixed at 6 months, and she is 17 months, its not uncommon to see the kids jump drastically in size and catch up in development quickly after this kind of surgery. I have been researching and learning all I can, but its so hard to find answers to our questions since most of them cannot be answered by a doctor until they actually see the girl themselves. So we wait. Try to do it patiently. Seriously knowing that it will be sooner than expected is amazing. But we know that our baby girl is held safely in the hands of the one who created her. He has taken care of her since before her heart had its first beat. She is meant to be a Rainbolt, but more than that, she is meant to be known as a child of the King.

Abby Grace means she is really cute!


Friday, February 5, 2016

Bring on the PINK!

We are so excited to introduce our little baby girl, Abigail Grace. She is 17 months, and in China waiting for us!
The story of how we found each other is really a God story, and man, he is not finished with her, or with us! We were waiting for the email that has a picture and a file of a little kid... and then we have a certain amount of days to review, have a Dr look at the medical file, and then accept or ask for the next file. We were expecting it to come any day now... and then an email came with a bunch of special focus list of kids with more pressing needs. It had pictures and listed the reasons why the child needs a family more urgently. Some of them were bigger needs and some just require a surgery, but they all need a family. Ryan looked through the pictures like he did every time the email came, and this time he said, "Hey look at that girls smile! Do you think she could be our girl?" Strangely, I was the more "practical" one in this circumstance, and I look at her... pushed down the feelings of "OH WOW! Isn't she adorable?" and try to rationalize how the email would come just like I expected. We would KNOW immediately that this was our girl, just like we knew J and D were our kids the minute we saw them. I asked him why she would be on the list. And if its something that would affect her long term, and if it would require extra care that we could not provide while living overseas. You have to email back to request more info about each child, and I did not tell Ryan I wanted to get more info. That was on a Wednesday. Then Sunday we headed to church like usual, and I put the boys in the toddler class, and one of my good friends little two year old girl wanted me to hold her. As I hug this little cutie, I felt something. It felt like God wanted me to listen to Him and that He was saying, "don't be afraid. look at her file." I did not think I was afraid. I thought I was being practical. I thought our girl would come in a referral email picture and we would have that one MOMENT when you know someone has picked out the child who will soon be your own. This time it was different. It was a slow process of God letting me know that He was the one who set our family up, and even when it did not go like I thought it would, it is far more beautiful. Ryan, when I told him I wanted to ask for the file, of course, he had already requested it! When we got the file, I read through it. Most of it is full of medical terms and numbers that I have no clue about. I just now started to understand all the different heart problem terms! Thank you Wikapedia. But as I read what they said about her, I could not help but sob. In her tiny little life, so many hard things, but many people had stepped in to care for her. The reports were way more detailed than I expected, and they even listed what they feed her and how she likes to be held and how attached she is to her care giver. I just could not even believe how much God loved this little girl, and I was falling in love with her a world apart only through a file and a photo. One of the comments said that once she was able to become internationally adoptable, she was able to receive more treatment. We had several Dr.'s look at her file and give us their opinion. She does need heart surgery and it does need to be as soon as possible. She is still young, 17 months, but one Dr said it normally would have been repaired at 6 months. They said that once the VSD is repaired, she should catch up and it will not affect her daily life after recovery. So now we wait and see if the orphanage will be able to arrange surgery now while she is in China, which we requested for her sake, but we are not sure if that will happen. I personally would want to be the one with her during recovery, doing what Momma's do, and I would be able to ask the Dr. a million questions like a good heart Mom should.  Its been a real lesson in trusting God and letting go of CONTROL. When you have a kid at home, you control what they snack on, how cool the room is while they sleep, what they watch on TV... we can't control everything, but we do what we can. I do that with my boys without thinking about it. And then God gives me a precious jewel, whose heart is in need of healing, and she is so many time zones away... and I have no idea what kind of bed she sleeps in, if someone gives her kisses, what she eats, if she ever struggles with her VSD (a hole in the wall of the lower section of the heart) or how soon I can help her get the surgery she needs. When I start to freak out about all this that I can't control, I start thinking about how excited I am to be on this journey, and how thankful I am that this special little one is in my life to teach me a lesson in trusting God and letting Him show His power and ability to take care of things. I am sure it is only one of many lessons in trusting God and giving the control of my kiddos back to Him. A good friend who has great knowledge and kids with heart issues was chatting with me and said the thing that helped me the MOST since saying yes to Abby Grace (thanks Ellen) I told her how I felt over whelmed and wondered if i had what it takes to be a heart mom with all that it could entail... and she said, "He picks our kids, friend. And that means you already have what it takes to be a heart mom."
 More later on how we choose her name!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Boys 3 years HOME!

To Josiah and Daniel,

I can hardly believe that its been 3 years since that crazy fun day that you made your daddy and me the happiest parents in the world! We love everything about you. That first day, Daniel could not even look at me without crying and Josiah was not sure, but going with whatever the next moments held. It was not long before Daniel became a real Momma's boy and I love how quickly you learned to accept our love and then to give it back us. I like to watch the two of you boys play together, and to see your similarities and your differences. Josiah, you are so creative and silly. You have a compassion that is always thinking of others first. You are always willing to share. You get so excited about little things and I love to see the JOY in your eyes when we set out on a new adventure. Daniel, You are so smart. You amaze me with your memory and love for all things numbers. You are also becoming a beautiful artist. You melt me heart when you say how much you love me. You are determined and focused, and when you want to do something, you figure out a way to get it done. I am so proud of you both. I know God has big plans for you and I love that I get to be the mom that God choose for you who will encourage you and watch you grow into men of faith. I pray that you will be men of integrity, willing to stand up for truth, and faithful sharers of the good news that we have. I am excited to see you as big brothers this year and I know that you will love and protect your sister with vigor. You are both my treasure and I thank God for you and the men you will become everyday. Stay close to Jesus, babies- He is our life and all our hope.You are growing up so fast, and before i know it, I will blink and you will be all grown up. I love everyday with you and try to cherish the sweet moments when I see how great our God is to create such amazing little people like you two! I love you to the moon and back.

Boys 3 Years Home from R and S on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Adoption update

It is getting closer.... We still do not know who our little one is, but we have been told we should get a referral within a few weeks or so. It is getting so REAL! This adoption has been much less stressful than the first one, probably because we have done it before and it seems less scary and also that I have two beautiful boys that take up most of my energy. We have had our moments of wondering when it will be?, what she will be like?, how much hair will she have?, what should we call her?. Thankfully we have been blessed with most of the big expenses paid by some AMAZING grants. God is so faithful. Every time Ryan has showed me the finances and said, "We need to spend less this month" or "We need (X amount) of dollars for this payment." God has always showed up with just the amount we need... or someone giving a little gift, or another grant. Over Christmas we all traveled to Sri Lanka and had an amazing island Christmas. We were shocked to find out while we were there that we were given a HUGE grant and we were also moving up on the list because two families accepted their referrals... It finally felt like she would actual come home. The boys are so SOOO excited about a sister and they want to talk about her and think of names for her. They bought her a blanket at the store yesterday and they now want to sit under it and talk about how much they already love sister. Its the sweetest thing. I can only imagine the joy on their faces when they get to meet her.

When I pray for her and imagine what she is doing now, I can't help but pray that she is in a loving environment where she is able to play with other kids, and somehow know that there is a mommy, a daddy, and two big brothers who are waiting just for HER. I pray that she will be attached to someone who will help her know what love looks like, and that she will be sad when she leaves them. She will be coming home with us, and we know how good it is to be loved by an extended family and when she comes home, she will have plenty of food and toys and brothers to play with... but in her little mind, everything she has ever known will be different. We will talk a different language and eat different foods. Her "normal" life will turn upside down.  Our boys were so little they don't have clear memories of before meeting us, but we expect our daughter to be around 2, so she will notice the change more than they did. I assume that the grieving process will be difficult and some days it may/will be harder than we had anticipated... But I trust the one who crafted this little precious one and who holds all of us in the palm of His hand, and he will give us the daily sufficient grace to press on when we are beyond exhausted.

We love that you are on this journey with us and as we get to know her and get ready for our travel we will keep you updated so you can pray with us! We are almost fully funded, but we still have a little ways to go. We have a matching grant that will double your gifts, and if you would like to partner with us in this way, here is a link.
To give online go to www.lifesongfororphans.org/give/donate. Select “Give to an Adoptive Family.” Complete the online form and fill in “Account Number 5707” and “Rainbolt Family”. All donations given are matched.

Thanks for your prayers and support of us.