Sunday, August 11, 2013

Josie, Our Joy

As I read over the last two blog posts and thought about all that has happened in the last year, I am overwhelmed.  We welcomed Josie home one year ago today.  I can hardly believe it has already been a year, even though I can barely remember life without her.  

This is a picture of our sweet Josie in China.  Do you notice anything missing?  I do.  This picture is so precious, but it always reminds me of a painful reality, we were not there.  Tyson and I did not travel to China to get Josie.  Of course that was not our choice.  We had no control over the situation.  But we did travel to get Ren, which makes me even more aware of what we missed.  We had very few pictures of Josie in China and very few of her time with her travel group.  My heart ached to know more and fill in the missing pieces.  So, I did what any good, (slighty psychotic) mom would do, I turned to YAHOO.  Yes, if you travel among the adoption community, you know what I am talking about.  A few weeks or so after Josie came home, I joined a Yahoo group for families that had adopted from the Zhejiang province in China.  I wrote a simple post stating something like, "We had adopted our daughter through a dissolved adoption.  We did not travel to China to get her.  Any info about her province would be appreciated."  Time passed and I had heard nothing.  Then one day I had an email from the Zhejiang travel group.  I was totally unprepared for what I read.  The email was from a lady who was in Josie's travel group!  She had all kinds of pictures of Josie and sweet stories of their time in China.  That one email set off a chain of events that I can barely wrap my heart around, much less, write down.
These pictures were taken at our pool on Memorial Day this year.  To the passerby, the pictures would be a normal group of friends.  Anyone looking in would see moms, dads and kids, (lots of kids).  But these pictures represent so much more. They tell a story of God's promises fulfilled and the enormity of His unmatchless love.
In Josie's China Travel group, there were a total of five families including Josie's first family.  Three of the families spent Memorial Day with us.  Did I mention one family drove all the way from Texas and another from Missouri? I was a little worried about having all the families over.  I mean we didn't really know each other.  Wouldn't it be weird?  Just like the rest of Josie's story, I can't explain that day.  It was so easy, so joyful.  These families have prayed for us and given us the link to Josie's past that we would have otherwise not had.
One other family was not able to make it Memorial Day but guess who I ran into at the Orphan Summit? None other than the mom from that family!!

The one other thing that I totally had no clue about was Josie's Chinese town and the orphanage that she came from.  Even though Josie was in China with these other families, she was the only one adopted from her orphanage.  The Lord knew my heart and that I desired to know all I could, but I thought that finding out anything else was unlikely......of course until I got another email from the Zhejiang group.  This time it was an email from a precious lady in the NETHERLANDS!  She was able to tell me about Josie's town and her orphanage.  And guess what else?  Her son and Josie were in the orphanage together!

I could not make all of this up if I tried.  This is just the cliff note version of our story.  There are so many other miracles. It just overwhelms me that the Lord has provided so much for me, but more importantly for Josie.  As she grows up, she may, like a lot of adopted children, struggle with identity or feelings of abandonment.  As she hears her story, there is one thing she has to know:  The Lord, our creator, our savior, loved her and had plans for her.

We celebrated today.  Josie's Forever Family Day.  We went to see Planes at the movies.  We ate at Shogun, (Japanese food, I know:), with one of the dear families from her travel group.  We went to Target and she picked out a Tinkerbell doll.  But the best thing about today was Josie, pointing to herself, telling everybody, very proudly, "MY DAY".

To my Josie:  You are a joy and why the Lord has given me the privilege to be your mother, I will never know.  I love you!

To Josie's travel group:  Thank you for loving our girl, loving our family, and filling the gaps for us!

To my Lord:  I praise you Lord God, the God of Israel, who ALONE does marvelous deeds.  Praise be to your glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with your glory, Psalm 72:18,19.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

6 Months Later

Six months ago, Miss Josie became a member of our family.  When I think back on that day, it is almost humorous.  It wasn't anything like any of our other additions.  We knew for 9 months that Ty and Henry were  each on their way.  We prepared for Ren for over five years.  With all three of them there was the usual fan fare, excitement, showers, visits to the hospital, trip to China, the usual, right?  But Josie.......the whole process took about three weeks.  Our social worker pulled up in her minivan and delivered Josie.  Our boys were extremely confused.  They didn't understand why we weren't packing for China.  The day was so.....uneventful, I guess is the only way to describe it.  But let me reassure you, life since that day has been anything but.....and not because things have been difficult;  absolutely, the opposite.  Life with Josie can be described with one word, MIRACULOUS. She is kind and gentle,  loving and joyful, smart and endearing.  She has grown tremendously in her speech and in her overall development.  She is amazing.

And on to another miraculous turn, Josie's adoption fees were $15,000.  And of course, we had no money.  We haven't had much of a chance to rebuild our savings since our last adoption.  Right off the bat we received three grants that totaled a little over $6000!  We only needed $8600.  By December, we still did not have the money, though I have to say, I wasn't really worried.  I mean my Lord brought my Chinese daughter TO me, I knew He could take care of the fees.  And He did!!!  Our adoption Agency, Bethany Christian Services, has amazing donors.  They had approached one of their donors concerning Josie's adoption fees.  By the end of the conversation, they had committed to paying off Josie's entire adoption!!!  As if that weren't enough, our agency shared with us that the donors were the same donors that had given a $4000 grant to our family to begin Ren's adoption over 7 years ago.  We are not allowed to know personal information about our donors, but I know this; because of their obedience to the Lord, their hearts for orphans, and their selfless giving, I have two beautiful little girls that have forever changed my life.

As I lay in bed and think on all the Lord has done, I marvel at how good He is and how much He loves the orphan.  He calls people to adopt.  He calls people to pray.  He calls people to serve.  He calls people to give.  It is amazing to see how He has so woven our story together with so many of His servants. I hope you will be encouraged by Josie's story.  I hope you can see the hand of the Lord, but also see that He has a plan for you to do your part to "bring justice to the fatherless", Isaiah 1:17.

Here's a video of our precious girl!  You might have to pause the playlist to hear the video:)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Josie's Journey Home


It has been so long since my last blog post.  Isn't is amazing that my last post was about the loss of a child and this one is about the addition of one?  The latest addition to our family has raised many questions.  It has taken me a few weeks to get to a point where I can blog about what has taken place in our lives.  So here goes my very poor attempt to explain the unexplainable.

About a year ago, Ren and I began praying for a Chinese baby sister.  A friend of mine, Gwen, made the comment about her adopted children and that she adopted in pairs, two from China, two from Uganda, so that her children had someone that shared their history.  That comment confirmed in my heart that another little Chinese girl would complete our family.  However, Tyson was not so sure.  When I found out I was pregnant in January I thought, "Well, this is not exactly what I prayed for and if this baby comes out looking Chinese, I will have a lot of explaining to do!"  HA!  But then of course, our pregnancy ended in miscarriage.

I took a couple of months to heal and then began again thinking and praying about adding to our family through adoption.  All the while, Ren and I prayed for a Chinese baby sister and Tyson continued to not be so sure because we did not have the money to adopt from China and it would be impossible to go China and leave all our children behind.  So I prayed for a Chinese baby that we wouldn't have to go to China to get.  As you know, I am a planner.  We started taking foster care classes.  On the foster care paperwork I wrote "ASIAN " ,(and others as well), in the blank that said , "Race".  However, there is not an abundance of Asian children in foster care, (shocking I know).  I checked out Hawaii's foster care page, I mean Hawaiian children are practically Asian, right??  Keep in mind that though we did take foster care classes, we were not "officially" in the adoption process, especially not international adoption.

So in July I received a phone call from Amy Scott who is our social worker.  She walked us through our adoption with Ren.  When Amy calls my heart almost always stops because that means something is usually up.  She told me of a situation where a family had adopted a little girl from China and due to her special needs, (cleft palate), they wanted to dissolve the adoption.  She told us to pray and she would call us in a week or so.  We met with the couple and they indeed decided to dissolve the adoption.  We were asked to be the adoptive family.  As we prayed about what to do, Tyson said, "It is ludicrous to think that this might not be our child.  Of course she is.  She is exactly what you prayed for!"  And the rest is history.

So on August 10, 2012, Miss Josie Jiang Griffin joined her forever family. Amy brought her to our house.  My boys were so confused.  They wanted to pack their bags.  They thought we were getting on a plane to China, I mean that is where MOST Chinese baby sisters come from, just not our Josie.  We chose the name Josie because it is Tyson's grandma's name and when I looked up the meaning in Hebrew it means, "The Lord has added".  And He definitely has!

I know what most people are thinking right now.  What is a dissolved adoption?  It is where adoptive parents come to the decision that they are not able to parent their adopted child and they legally surrender all rights to the child.  Even as I type this my heart hurts.  I have been very angry towards this family but I have come to a place where all I feel towards them is thankfulness and compassion.  I am thankful because they brought my daughter home and they sought out a family for her.  I have compassion for them because I know they are hurting people.  It is not for me to debate whether or not they did the right thing.  It is not for me to understand.  Believe me, I have had a million thoughts and questions in my head.  How could they?  But each night when I am rocking my baby girl to sleep, she looks up at me with those beautiful eyes and I think, "How could they not?"  This sweet little girl is my daughter, she is home.

While we're rocking we listen to music.  Each night we listen to "Love Me Anyway" by Sidewalk Prophets.  It's the first song on my playlist.  I love that song because it talks about how the Lord loves me even though I am so not worthy.  It says "I am the the thorn in His crown.  I am the sweat from His brow.  I am Judas's kiss."  You know that is exactly what I am but He loves me anyway!  And to think about how the Lord of the universe heard my prayer and because of His love, answered my prayer and gave me such a special gift, it is more than I can comprehend.

Isaiah 40:28  Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.

I love this verse!  I have been guilty of thinking, "I can't believe the Lord heard my prayer and He actually answered it!"  This verse is like the Lord looking at me and saying, "DUH!"  Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  He is the everlasting God! He is the creator of the ends of the earth! And He is able to bring my Chinese daughter home from right down the road!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

His mercies in disguise....

Proverbs 16:9  The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

I posted this verse with a picture of my positive pregnancy test to Facebook on January 27, 2012.  I am posting it again tonight followed by these brief words, my pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, but I know the Lord is good and I know He establishes our steps.

Back in January I began to feel a little sick.  I faintly remember feeling that way one time before.  I felt the same thing when I was pregnant with Henry.  Though we were definitely not trying to have a baby, I thought I should take a test, just in case.  The positive sign literally knocked the breath out of me.  The tears began to flow, (not of joy, I might add).  I mean, I am almost 36, I have three children already, and not mention I had begun filling out papers for our next adoption.  And did I mention I was supposed to board a plane bound for Uganda, Africa, on March 30?? I had my plan!!!!

So, I went to the doctor.  Told the world I was pregnant.  Canceled my trip to Uganda, (doctor's orders), and began to fall in love with the baby growing inside.  Though all the while I had a feeling that something wasn't right.

I went in for my 8 week appointment and begged to have an ultrasound.  I remember walking down that hall to the ultrasound room.  I could not wait to hear that "woosh, woosh" of my baby's heart beat.  I have had several ultrasounds so I knew what to look for.  I laid there on the table staring expectantly at the screen, but there was nothing.  A gaping black heartbeat, no baby, not my plan.

I went in the next week for a follow up ultrasound.....nothing.  I walked out and had to sit in a waiting room.  Everywhere I looked were pregnant people.  This is not very pretty, but it is very honest.  I started to look around me and think "Why?"  Why is her baby fine?  "Look at her, she can't be more that 16 years old!"  "Look at her, look at all her tatoos!"  I have to say, I am not proud of all the thoughts I had.  When I got home I was looking in the mirror and getting ready, the thoughts came again.  And then the tears began to flow as the Lord began to reveal to me how wrong I was to judge anyone's worth or their worthiness to be a mom by how they looked or the horror of my own circumstances, (that were not my plan).

I ended up having a D and C.  I have to say it was one of the worst days of my life.  The tears would just not stop.  This was not my plan!

I had a plan, but the Lord established my steps.  And you know what?  I am thankful.  Why did I get pregnant?  I didn't want to be pregnant.  And just when I started to get excited about our new baby.....miscarriage.  I do not know the answer.  But I do know that the Lord loves me.  I am thankful for the children He has blessed me with.  My children amaze me.  I am not a teen mom.  I am not covered in tatoos.  But I AM the one who is not worthy of the gifts the Lord has given me.  So, am I ok?  Yes!!!  I am walking in thankfulness and trusting that , like the first song on my playlist, "Blessings", by Laura Story, says His mercies are in disguise

By the way, I know everyone wants to ask, but is too afraid to.  Will there be any more Griffin children in the future?  Tyson would probably answer, 'NO"!  But remember, the Lord establishes our steps AND I have a plan!!  HA!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Happy Gotcha Day/Forever Family Day!

I can not believe it has been a year since Ren was placed in my arms and she forever joined our family.  Though I have watched the following videos many, many times, I found myself thinking today...who was it that placed her in my arms.  For a few brief seconds I couldn't remember if it was her care giver or another staff person from the orphanage.  While I was thinking about that today, I was almost panicked that I couldn't think of who it was that handed me my daughter.  Then a small, still voice whispered to my heart, it was the Lord.  He handed me my daughter, His creation, His treasure, to call my own.

* Don't forget to pause that playlist!

Moments before getting Ren........

Moments after meeting Ren....

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Free Day?

We arrived in Beijing On Monday, August 23, 2010 around 11:00pm.  The next day was a free day.  Tyson and I slept most of the day.  When we got up we went walking around Beijing.  We went to a local grocery store that was a few blocks from our hotel.  I remember thinking, "Wow. We really stick out"!  I guess I thought Beijing would be like large cities in the US, lots of diversity.  Nope!  Beijing is lots of Chinese people and then me and Tyson. 

A year ago?

It is hard to believe that a year ago Tyson and I boarded a plane and headed to China to pick up our daughter, Ren.  I have been looking at pictures, watching videos, and reading emails from our China trip and I stand amazed.  I wanted to share some "unseen" and  "seen" footage from our time in China.  The video on today's post is from the Atlanta airport on Sunday, August 22, 2010.  It is crazy to me how I explain we are going to get Ren as if it was the most ordinary thing in the world.  When I think back to those days, I am still completely shocked at how calm I was.  I can honestly say the Lord guarded my heart from anxiety and fear and blessed me with peace and assurance.

Here's the first video in the "Returning to Our Road to Ren" series!
* Don't forget to scroll down to pause the playlist before watching the video.