Saturday, May 21, 2011

April 17: The Visit!

Just a quick disclaimer before you read much further: I’m not the blogging type, but my wife, who is way more eloquent (and pretty!) than I, and who has also written all of the preceding entries, has asked me to write a blurb about my recent trip to China.  That said, here goes!
I had the opportunity to return to China in April to network on behalf of Project Hopeful, a wonderful Chicago-based nonprofit organization which educates, encourages and enables people to advocate for and adopt orphans with HIV/AIDS.  The trip was brief, but required a good deal of travel within the country.  After visiting a few days in Beijing and then taking an overnight train to Xi’an, my two friends and I flew to Wuhan where we met a facilitator from Lifeline Adoption who then escorted us to the Wuhan Children’s Welfare Center to meet Wu Bi Qi.  Don’t ask me how this was arranged; Lifeline somehow pulled it off!
After traveling about 40 minutes and crossing the Yangtze River and the Yellow Crane Tower, we turned off of the main thoroughfare and weaved through the narrow streets of Wuhan.  Eventually we pulled up to a gated compound with a sloping driveway which led to a rather substantial white tiled building. 
In the driveway with one of her teachers was our future daughter!  They had her dressed in a pink dress with a multicolored hairclip—her hair had grown since the referral picture was taken, so she actually looked her gender.  When we showed up, she clung to her nanny.  Who were these odd looking men, anyway?
 Despite encouragement from her caregivers, she really wanted nothing to do with the soft blanket nor the baby doll that I had brought from home.  However, she really showed interest in the photo album which we filled with family pictures of our kids and which also included the referral picture of her!   I don’t know if she really understood what I meant when she was told in Mandarin that I was, in fact, her father, and that the others in the book were her mother and brothers and sisters.  She’s never really known a family—never knew a mother or father, nor could she conceive of such a large family!  She loved looking at the pictures, and carried the book with her for the rest of our 45 minute visit.
She remained wary of us until one of my friends had the idea of playing peek-a-boo with her.  She smiled and laughed and ran to Grant with open arms…so I decided to try that trick too and was rewarded with the same result.  I like to kid that she only came to me when I covered my face!  She had been eating cookies when we arrived and she offered me a bite of one of them before pulling it away from my open mouth with a great deal of delight and laughter.  We began a bit of a relationship there and she even allowed me to hold her for a bit. 

We were then permitted to enter the orphanage to see her room.  Jennifer allowed me to carry her into the building and down the hall to her nursery room which she shared with some 20 other children—all special needs infants.  It was clear, however, that she was the favorite child of all of the nannies.  They all gathered round her while she delighted in the attention and in showing them her photo album.   I was thanked repeatedly for coming and for welcoming her into our family. 
I was VERY pleased to see that Half the Sky Foundation was affiliated with Jenny’s orphanage.  In my opinion, Half the Sky has implemented some of the most significant programs to benefit orphaned children anywhere in China.  Half the Sky maintains that human contact is of the utmost importance in child development, and trains nannies to hold the babies, talk to them and “love on them” whenever possible.  They have also implemented programs which focus on education, life skills development, and medical and rehabilitative care for special needs children.  In short, the association of Half the Sky with Jenny’s orphanage was an answer to prayer for us.
The forty five minute visit seemed to pass very quickly and soon it was time for us to head to the train station, but only after goodbyes, smiles—and Hershey’s chocolate—were  exchanged.   The next time I see her she’ll be a Davidson—and maybe she’ll  even recognize me as her daddy!

Monday, May 16, 2011

April 15, 2011: Cutie Cake Pops!

I’ve mentioned before that this adoption is financially overwhelming.  We’ve applied for grants and loans, but now it’s time to get our hands dirty and fundraise!  

Did I explain that my youngest sister, Christina, and her husband, Chad, are at the same point in their adoption process?  They are working toward bringing their fourth child, sweet Ruby, home from Ethiopia.  While waiting in line at Starbucks, Christina had a brilliant idea, we could sell cake pops!  Hence the birth of “Cake Pops for Cuties!"  

This week we have orders for over 1200 cake pops to the tune of $2 each.  We are knee deep in sugar, butter cream frosting, and chocolate.  The cake pop learning curve has been huge, the sleep has been minimal, the house is trashed, but in the end 100% of the proceeds will add slightly over $1,000 to each of our adoption funds.  Thank you to all who indulged us and ordered our Easter treats!

March 2011: Bedtime Prayers

Every night Grace and Ellie pray that Jenny can come home soon and that “we can take her to Disney World.”  (I think that they thought it was much less selfish to ask to go to Disney if it was done in combination with praying for Jenny).  I explained to them that as they are going to bed at night, Jenny is just getting up and beginning her day.  This is a hard concept for littles to process.  Grace finally asked, “Mommy, does Jenny even live on earth, or is she just on some other planet somewhere out there?”
I understand, right now she seems worlds away from here…
God of the universe, please bring her home soon!

Feb. 22, 2011

May we introduce you to Wu BiQi (soon to be known as Jenny)

Here’s what we know:
Jenny was born on Nov. 7, 2008.  She was discovered at the gate to the hospital elevator at the Children’s Hospital of Wuhan on 11-13-2008.  She was wearing white underwear, wrapped in a quilt, and had a note from her birth mama.  She was named Wu (from the name of the city), Bi (all babies in this month were given the same middle name), and Qi (meaning pretty jade).  Upon learning of her special need, her care takers said,” we decided to let the brilliant and beautiful girl to live happily ever after.”  They describe her as “a healthy girl, seldom ill, likes to help the teachers to do things, act like a spoiled child and shows off her cleverness.”
How fun to see these first pictures of our precious daughter.  We can’t stop looking at them!  The name now has a face, a story, and a place in our hearts.  Now that we’ve found her, we need to get her home!

Early December, 2010: Disclosure and Doubts

Our home study is almost complete!  Anything that anyone would want to know about the Davidsons has been disclosed.

We’ve named our little girl Jennifer Christina, and the search for her is on!
In this relatively quiet stage, the doubts are creeping in.
Where is the energy to raise this child going to come from?  How on earth are we ever going to afford a $30 thousand adoption process while still sending our children to college and putting braces on their teeth?  Weren’t we going to “see the world”?

Enter Francis Chan and his book, Crazy Love.  This may be the most challenging and convicting book that I’ve ever read.  In God’s perfect timing, now was the time to read this book.  

Yes, Jennifer is to be our “crazy love” child….no doubt about it!

Later, November 2010: It's Decided.

So it’s decided.  The Davidsons are adopting again, and we’re adding some color to this lily white family….we’re going to Ethiopia!

On a conference call to Lifeline Children’s Services we are challenged to find a little girl, with this particular need somewhere in China.  It’s never, or perhaps once, been done before, and we could be a test family.  This was almost a “no-brainer” for us because China had already captured our hearts with two precious gifts named Grace and Ellie.

Let’s do the seemingly impossible…let’s adopt a child that needs to be up-rooted from a complex system somewhere in a beautiful, vast land.

November 2011: "Diving In"

How did this journey begin? 
Obviously this doesn’t make sense. 

We are in our mid-forties (ouch!), we’ve just thrown a wedding celebration for our first born, Emily.  Ben is a freshman in college.  Four are still being schooled at home:  Caleb a junior, James in 7th grade, Gracie a second grader, and Ellie a kindergartner.  More than a few of our friends are about to have an empty nest, and we’re contemplating adding a little one to our craziness.

Over the past two years we regularly have asked ourselves, “Is the Davidson family complete?”  No answer…no peace….
However, our eldest boys have assured us that “yes” we were too old to even think such thoughts, and the Davidson home is definitely maxed out!  At one point we began to fill out an adoption application, only to rip it up a day later.

Then came the Mid Atlantic Orphan Summit and a weekend with the Twietmeyers (the founders of Project Hopeful).  Two years ago we specifically prayed, “If we are to adopt again, please bring our children on board.”  We wanted to honor their thoughts in this family decision…..nothing!

Now within days of the Summit, all of them individually came to us and said that we need to adopt, and she needs to have a special need (let’s adopt someone that no one else wants).  As our friend Carolyn says, “If not us, then who?”

“OK God, not our timing, but yours….here we go again.”

As one of our favorite artists sings:
"I’m divin’ in
I’m going deep
In over my head I want to be
Caught in the rush
Lost in the flow
In over my head I want to go!"

We’re taking a leap of faith!