Saturday, August 22, 2009

pApErWoRk PaNdEmOnIuM!

home study and dossier headquarters: our guest room this week....i guess no overnight visitors until this is all cleared up!

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Patient Nurse

"can you please spell for me your daughter's name?" the scheduling nurse asked.
"name?" i hesitated. "you want me to give you her name?"
"ah...yes," she efficiently responded. "her name and her birthdate, please."
all that raced through my mind was: but we don't have her yet. we've never seen her. i've never held her. she doesn't even know we exist. how can i assume the right to give anyone her name? my eyes welled up with tears. i just wasn't prepared for her to ask me my daughter's name. i wanted to explain all of this to her but i choked on my words.
"it is okay," she calmly answered. "we just need to start a chart on her in order to schedule her appointment with the cardiologist."
"oh, okay, " i stammered. "but you know we don't have her yet? she is still in china. nothing is official. you know that right?"
i had really only called to begin the process of interviewing local cardiologists that we will need when she gets home.
"yes, dear. it's really okay. i just need a name," continued this very patient nurse.
for just a moment i began to consider how best to describe all the different names of this child. i imagined what it might sound like if i started to list all of the chinese names by which we've called her...AND all their meanings... AND all their pronunciations - correct and incorrect - AND all of her nicknames... AND all of the names we've considered for her. oh my. thankfully, for once, I showed some restraint.  
"bella grace.  that will be her name.  bella grace xue mcnatt.  that is her name." my voice cracked at the end. i had never given anyone her name over the phone.  it felt big.  huge and amazing.  it felt right.  somehow, i think this kind nurse understood.

it was a strangely defining moment for me.  reality and and wishing all wrapped up in one question.  "her name, please?" i suppose it isn't a hard question when your child is in her high chair in the kitchen, or in her crib up the back staircase, or asleep in her car seat just behind yours.  but, when you haven't yet laid eyes on your child...when you don't know the timber of her voice or her favorite food or her special toy. when you have no idea what her cry sounds like....well, then, i suppose it is only normal for even basic questions like these to be hard.
we did get through the rest of the phone call. an appointment was made. i am sure there were a few times when she considered transferring me to the pysch ward of the hospital. but, all in all, another step was taken in this new process of adopting. we set the appointment for january 6th. she began to tell me about what bella grace could eat prior to the appointment and how i should refrain from any type of lotions or powders on her chest area. oh boy. i knew it was time to end the call before i literally burst into tears. she was just doing her was she to know she was speaking to a woman who couldn't wrap her mind around lotions and powders when she had yet to wrap her arms around child?

as emotional as this exchange was though, the phone call and scheduling actually provided a bit of hope. i am quite hopeful just to have a date.  will she really be home by january 6th?  will she really be in the backseat of my suv on her way to a cardiologist appointment. i know i won't, for one minute, remember anything about the lotion or, i would appreciate a friendly reminder from any of my detail oriented friends. i won't remember the instructions...but I most certainly will remember the phone call where i was first asked, "her name, please?"

Monday, August 17, 2009

reality check in the kitchen

this morning i had a reality check. 

it was the kids' first day back to school and it was that blessed time for all school age children: morning.  

kids, husband and woman were all scrambling around the kitchen....getting breakfast, packing lunchboxes, checking backpacks, arguing over socks, feeding animals -- yes, a typcial, blissful morning in the mcnatt home. 

as i stood there hovering over the assembly line of turkey and cheese sandwiches...i froze with the thought, "where in the world would an 18 month old child from china fit into all of this?" i pictured myself, for a moment, with a toddler on my hip in the midst of our morning mess. i wish i would have kept my panic to myself. instead, however, i voiced it out loud to rick. it was like that tube of toothpaste illustration. once it's out, it's out.  there's no taking it back. he looked at me, i looked at him.  he looked at me, again. 

umm....yeah, we could only imagine. 

okay. alright. i get it. that was a scary, but necessary, step in our process. i know for certain God gave me that image to keep my idealism in check, my head out of the clouds and my feet planted firmly on my (dirty) kitchen floor. just in case i was getting too far ahead with the "idea" of adopting, He, in His perfect timing, brought me face to face with what the "reality" of adopting just might look like. i don't necessarily want to see it like that. i'd prefer to doodle her name in my journal and imagine her hand in rick's hand...i want to wander through the toddler section at baby gap and pick out a pair of mary jane shoes for her tiny feet. BUT, the reality is we will most often have a chaotic kitchen, a hurried morning, a frantic exit... and in this mess, we will have a toddler. a little sister. a daughter. a child for whom we will never be enough. we will not be calm enough, capable enough or prepared enough. THAT is why we depend on Him. He is more than enough. "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (~ 2 Corinthians 12:9) in the confusion of my morning madness i hear my Father's voice assuring me of His presence even in all this. especially in all this. 

and then i see her on my hip.

Monday, August 10, 2009

pictures from china!

pictures today!
18 months old...she is all eyes. so thankful to just see her sweet face.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

the names of stars, sheep and sparrows...

her name. i know, we americans are all a little confused on what exactly is this little girl's name....let alone how to pronounce it. embarassingly enough, we were calling her by her last name all along - zhang. we found this out a few weeks ago, but by that point she was "baby zhang" to all of us...pronounced as western as possible (zhang rhyming with bang).  oh, how awful! here we are wanting desperately to adopt this child and we have her name all wrong. what can we say? this entire process has been new to us. we are probably doing many things backwards, upside down, inside out and just plain wrong. but, here's what we do know:

xue zhu: this is her first and middle name. it means snow bamboo. okay.  now, THAT is lovely. the wordy type of girl that i am just loves the translation. rick has recently started calling her baby bamboo-snow. we've been told by a friend that has some understanding of the language that "xue" is pronounced as "shu-eh". when we first saw her full name, we had guessed that xue zhu would be pronounced something like "zoo zoo"...(we had NO idea), here again, we have Yet another option. can't you just imagine a "zoo-zoo mcnatt"?

zhang: this is her last name. it means "government or state" ...probably the name given to her by the government when she was found. not at all lovely. but it is by what we first knew, i am sure we will always think of her as "baby zhang" or "baby z" as the kids like to call her.

if you are not thoroughly confused yet, hold will be soon.

so it was last night while having dinner with friends that my good friend, meritt, said in her all business-like tone, "okay, can we just figure this out...what are we calling her? what are you planning on naming her?" of course we've been thinking about this...writing combinations on scratch paper...just like we did with all four of our children while waiting for them to arrive.  it is our plan to give her an american name and keep a part of her chinese name. is it too soon to share our thoughts? oh, i don't know....we aren't exactly the type of people to keep all buttoned up about what is going on in our family. we Want you to be included. i can remember telling friends, family, even my high school students that we were pregnant...well before the time that it was "safe" to tell. i guess that is just a personality thing. cautious is clearly not my middle name. so...with that said, here is what we believe we have settled on: isabella grace xue mcnatt. we will call her bella grace. we will probably call her baby zhang, baby z, baby bamboo-snow...we will call her daughter, we will call her sister, we will call her God's gift.

in psalms it says that God knows the names of the john it tells us that Jesus calls His sheep by their names.....stars, sheep, sparrows...we are certain that God knows her name.

Friday, August 7, 2009

she is Yours

We just arrived home from a week in Ohio with my entire family. It was dad's 70th birthday...we, of course, surprised him in every way possible - our separate and dramatic arrivals and a big party. Such fun. While we were there we found out that Zhang was released from the hospital and is now back at the orphanage. We did get some medical information in a report - but it is limited. I am not sure if reading it gave encouragement or discouragement. It is good news knowing she was well enough to go back to the orphanage...but it also gave us more of the story about why she ended up in the hospital in the first place.

Apparently, she was in quite a bit of distress. I read that her vitals signs were not good, labored breathing and purple face...Lots of words, lots of numbers - again, I feel so limited in what I know and in what I can decipher. Each time I think about what all of this means or could mean or might mean....I end up with the same phrase tapping in my own heart: Lord, she is yours. Is this little girl with the broken heart meant for the McNatt family? We hope so...but right now we must Rest in knowing she is His.

Today we take another logistical step forward in the process. We begin our home study. Daniel Taylor, our social worker from Lifeline will spend the afternoon in our home. A social worker in our home for 2-3 hours....looking around....interviewing our four children - yeah, no stress there - a piece of cake for sure! Considering we are still in post-vacation chaos...I had better go and wrap up the laundry and suitcase parade!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

an envelope on the door

we've never had the chance before to come home and find an envelope attached to our front door. last week, however, rick added that to his coolest-experiences-ever-list. now we cannot possibly include in our blog the generosity of every friend,  but we have to tell you about this one.  a family (another one with four kids) heading home from their own vacation had a moment, while in the car, to read out loud our letter about zhang. their children had the typical responses, "cool, mom" ..."that's neat for the mcnatts"....and the even more typical (and honest) response, "we aren't going to do that are we?" but it was their 13 year old who asked, "what can we do?"

so with this question riding in the car amongst them they decided as a family to give baby zhang an amount that would equal the sum of their own family's "want." they had recently decided to buy a new sofa sectional for their basement playroom. they already had a futon in that room and agreed that the futon was perfectly fine. the money that was going to go for a new sectional could go toward bringing home zhang.

Lord, have you really given us friends like these? how surrounded we feel. how uplifted. how humbled that a family would sacrifice something in their own life to help a little girl they have never before met. this is only because of you, Lord. we, as humans, are just not bent this way. this pure selflessness is from You, Jesus. and it is beautiful.  thank you, Lord.

my sweet friend closed her letter, promising the everyday prayers of her family and offering hand holding, coffee bringing, baby sitting and "whatever you need." THIS is how Jesus reveals Himself. THIS is how He provides . THIS is how He shows His love through a family of six driving home together from vacation...a family willing to ask, "what can we do?"