We made it! We are exhausted and headed to bed. Tomorrow (Friday) we hike the Great Wall and Saturday we have two tours in the morning, lunch with Holt staff, and then we go get our girl!! Got the best surprise in my email today–5 new photos of her and 3 videos! Oh I can’t wait to hold her! She is just the sweetest thing!
These two were SO tired! Jason hardly slept on the plane and then missed the entire drive to the hotel 😉
Today, March 1st, our beautiful baby girl had her first birthday. A year ago today, when she was born, this is what we were doing:
We slipped on the ice that day driving to get background clearances and other adoption paperwork done. One of the scariest moments I’ve ever been in while driving. We were so thankful for the Lord’s provision and protection over our lives that day. Little did we know that on that same day, half-way across the world, our daughter’s life had just begun, and that very night, which was March 2nd in China, our daughter’s life would be handed over for the Lord’s provision and protection as well. I look back on these two days and marvel at how the Lord visibly protected and carried our entire family of 6 in His hands.
Now, one full year later, we celebrate the life of our daughter. There is definitely an ache in my heart in not being able to hold her and sing to her and watch her eat cake and open presents and watch her brothers dote all over her and smother her with kisses and way too much affection. But that day is coming soon. And by soon, I mean 10 days from now we will be on a plane headed to the same city she is in. 10 DAYS. So China, you can have have this one. You can have this one year, this first birthday, this first day of March, 2015, because it’s the ONLY birthday you get to keep of my daughter’s.
Today, our church body gathered around us and prayed for us–for our trip, the transitions, a smooth process, our boys, and for our daughter. What a beautiful thing it was to see this body of believers, most of whom we do not yet know, gathered around us in unity and support lifting us and our family up in prayer. And how special this was to be on our daughter’s birthday. I will always treasure this memory.
We are coming so soon baby girl! In 10 days, on March 11 at 7:30am, we will board that flight and head to your city. And just a few days after that, you will be in our arms. And you can bet we will be celebrating!!!
Your big brothers got you some gifts today and they went ahead and opened them for you too! They can’t wait to give them to you
Your youngest big brother was not very excited about taking a special birthday photo today. It was brutally cold outside.
Last family pic as a family of 5! Best we could do 😉
Happy 1st birthday beautiful girl! We are counting down the days until you’re in our arms and not just our hearts! We love you so much!!!
Our baby girl’s cleft lip and palate are most likely the reason she was left at the town gate at one day old. Not necessarily because her biological parents didn’t want her due to her deformity, but quite simply because they had no choice. This is one of the things that breaks my heart about our daughter’s story. It’s obvious that, despite the fact that we thought our daughter was perfect and beautiful just the way she was at that first referral photo, she can’t stay that way. It wouldn’t be healthy for her, it would hinder many things in her future and cause many problems. It was something that was necessary for her to live a full and thriving life, and of course we want that for our daughter and will get her the surgeries she needs when she needs them. But for her biological parents, it was never an option. Surgery for a cleft lip and palate costs more than many people in her area of the world make in an entire year, resulting so often in the tragedy of abandonment. Parents are forced to leave their children at orphanages or hospitals or other, hopefully public, places in desperation that their children will be placed into an institution that will get them the much-needed medical help—even if it means they will never see their child again. I fully believe her biological parents loved her and did what they believed was best for her survival. I can’t imagine such selfless love. I can’t imagine being forced to abandon my child because I know that there is no possible way I will ever be able to get her the help she needs. I can’t fathom how my daughter’s biological mother’s heart was ripped to pieces and torn from her chest as she laid that precious bundle on the ground beside the city gate and walked away. I wonder if she looked back, I wonder if she waited and watched. I wonder if she still thinks about her every day and longs to know if she has a family and if she is loved. I will always love and pray for my daughter’s first mother and father. I could never imagine in any way looking negatively at the sacrifice they made for her. I have prayed for them since before this journey began for us, knowing that on the other side of the world, there was a woman who was carrying a child that she would know for only a few days. I knew that heartache and tragedy was awaiting her upon the birth of the baby inside of her, but I also knew the hope that was waiting for her child….she didn’t. I want so badly to hug that sweet birth mother and thank her with every ounce of my being for choosing life for her baby. I want to tell her how much this baby girl is loved and cherished by so many people and I want her to know that it will be ok. I want her to know that there is hope for her and her life has a purpose. And that I will never stop praying for her, that she would know the love of Christ and be filled with hope and joy and we would all get to rejoice together someday.
Thought Norah’s life began with sadness and despair, but God never intended it to stay that way. It was never an accident that she was born the way she was. It was never a surprise to God that her little mouth was uniquely formed and that the mother that birthed her would leave her at the city gate in an attempt to save her life. God was never forced to adjust His plans according the circumstances that unfolded those first few days in March. She was always planned this way, chosen before the foundation of the earth was laid. Her abandonment and the circumstances of her birth have always been planned and set, and her little life written on the palm of His hand, all of its details fully known. And all of this time the Lord has been preparing our hearts for this little girl, born with these circumstances, at this time. She has always been meant for our family, as our beloved daughter and a precious baby sister, grand-daughter, niece, and great-granddaughter. And that blows my mind. I can’t wrap my brain around it. It’s beauty, plain and simple. Doesn’t it sound so familiar?….A tragic beginning, a life warped with sin and hopelessness… blind to the hope and love that awaits us…blind to what we were created for, who we were created for, and how, despite our deformities or imperfections, we were created perfectly in His image and we are so loved beyond what we can even fathom. And what’s more, He would not leave us as we were, dead in our despair, but He came to rescue us. That’s beauty, friends. Adoption is not the gospel, the gospel is God’s story of redemption through the sacrifice of Jesus. But what adoption does, is to give me one of the most clear and vivid pictures of how much our Father loves us that He would send His son to rescue us, in our despair and hopelessness, that we would be adopted into his family as beloved and cherished sons and daughters. It’s breathtaking.
I can’t wait to hold this tiny, beautiful girl. I may never put her down.
Our adoption story began nearly fourteen years ago before my husband and I were even married. It was something that both of us had felt that in some way or another, the Lord had laid on both of our hearts and we hoped to pursue one day down the road. When we began struggling to start a family some 4 years into our marriage, we decided after nearly two years of negative pregnancy tests, to begin the adoption journey. To our complete surprise, I found out I was 6 weeks pregnant 6 weeks after beginning the process. This journey had to be placed on hold. Over the years I read many blogs and listened to many stories and scoured through agency websites and read the latest updates on the Inter-country Adoption sites, but the Lord kept closing the door to this pursuit for us as much as I wanted to move forward. It just wasn’t the time. The Lord gave me this verse to hold onto over the years: “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end–it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”–Habbakuk 2:3. It was during this season of waiting that the Lord was not only giving me a heart for adoption, but for orphans in general, for the oppressed and the helpless and for seeing these people restored and set free, and for seeing these beautiful children set into forever families. As much as I longed for an adoption story of our own and for the child He had promised us one day, I knew His timing was perfect and that our time was not yet. But what I didn’t realize was how he was preparing us; how He was opening our eyes to more than just the beautiful, outward, redemptive story of adoption, but was also breaking my heart for the reality and disparity of the other side of adoption–the side that gets left out, not purposefully or intentionally, of many of the stories–mainly because we just don’t know. This is a side of heartbreak and gut-wrenching sacrifice and pain that we as Americans can barely wrap our brains around. The Lord was taking us through a time of waiting to open our eyes and break our hearts for this other side of adoption.
Over the last five years, the Lord has allowed me the privilege of traveling for a short time to two Asian foreign countries to work with orphaned children, the handicapped, and the desperately poor. On both occasions these beautiful people captured my heart. Both trips, to say the very least, have been life-changing, eye-opening, and heart-transforming. It was on these two trips that my eyes were opened to more physical and mental disabilities, diseases, and health conditions than I could ever imagine in one place. A few of the orphanages we visited were filled with handicapped children. In one of the more severe institutions many of these children were rarely taken out of their cribs, mostly only for a bath every other week. The cribs were metal and they lined the rooms in rows. The slats of the beds were old wood with no mattresses. Buckets of water were dumped on them when they were dirty. Diapers are expensive so they would wrap a around the child, then a layer of plastic and another layer of cloth and tie it with a rope. They get changed every now and then. The babies didn’t cry because there wasn’t a reason to. They just laid in their cribs and looked at you. They were blind, disfigured, deformed, broken, mentally gone, helpless, and hopeless. Most would never leave the orphanage—or they would graduate on to the mental institution right next door, but never leave the confines of the grounds, never go past the gates that encompass the place–nor would they ever grow a desire to. There were two tiny babies, barely a few pounds at maybe 3 or 4 months, both with cleft lips and palates, struggling to survive, despite lack of much needed help. Babies born with a cleft lip and palate cannot make suction with their mouths, therefore making it nearly impossible to drink from a normal bottle. The time it takes to sit with a baby and let the bottle drip into their mouths was just not available in an orphanage with so many children and so few caretakers, and they didn’t have the privilege of special cleft bottles nor the knowledge of how to manipulate the bottles for these tiny ones in order to make it easier for them. The bottles were propped up on pillows and left next to the babies, who obviously couldn’t hold onto them, as they slipped out of reach. Such a minor, correctable “special need” here in America that easily becomes life-threatening in foreign countries. What breaks my heart most is that the vast majority of these children in orphanages will not be deemed adoptable, and oftentimes it’s due to the misconception that since they were abandoned before, due to their special need or handicap, why would someone else want them? The root causes of such beliefs run so deep and not one of us can stand in a place of judgement, as our life experiences are very different. But quite simply put, it’s just a broken system, in a broken country, filled with broken people, with broken education and broken worlds, who simply need Jesus–just like us.
What makes me smile is when I sit back and take in all of these experiences and remember all of the children the Lord placed in my life over these years. The ones I fell in love with, the ones that broke my heart, the ones that were hurting and had been born with deformities. And I can see now how the Lord was opening my eyes and opening my heart to a path that six years ago, I would have most likely been terrified to go down. I see all along, He was preparing us for a tiny baby girl who He had created to be formed and made with a special characteristic that would mark the beginning of her life with tragedy and deep loss, but at the same time, great hope and immeasurable worth.
I have waited and waited to write this post. I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like to finally be at this place in our adoption journey. I couldn’t imagine after years of praying for the Lord’s timing and His provision and assurance how I would even be able to muster up the words to convey all that the Lord has done…all that we’ve seen with our eyes and felt in our hearts. I can’t even begin to talk about the ways the Lord has answered our prayers and strengthened our faith. We heard it said so many times of adoption that “If you just step out in faith, the Lord will provide in miraculous ways.” To be honest, I didn’t completely believe that, even though I really wanted to. I have held onto so many fears and doubts through this process and somehow the Lord has continued to keep our feet at a steady pace, pushing us forward into unknown territory. I’ve uttered so many questions into the air with no answers besides the knowledge that the Lord is good and He is faithful to keep his promises. I’ve struggled with somehow wanting to gain a sense of control in this world of “unknowns” and that desire for control was met continually with a very tall mountain of patience and waiting to climb. I wondered so many things…”is this the right time?” “would we love this child like our biological children?” “would we think she’s beautiful?” “would she have significant special needs?” “what if God gives us too much?” “what if we feel nothing when we see her?”…so many questions and only the answer that our God is good and worthy to be trusted. Before the foundation of the earth was laid, our God had planned this one special little girl for us, and He has so ordained the circumstances of her life, however tragic they would turn out to be, that through these circumstances she would find healing and hope and unconditional love within our very own family as our cherished daughter for all of her life. That realization is incomprehensible and too amazing for me. And now, here we are, 10 months into our adoption journey and we have seen the fulfillment of a word spoken to us many, many years ago…and this word FINALLY has a precious, beautiful face! And let me just say, God is GOOD and faithful and we are in awe and completely head-over-heels in love with a baby girl born and living on the other side of the world! He has answered our prayers beyond what we asked or imagined and then some. For, “the Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with JOY.”–Psalm 126:3. Here we are, in the season of Advent, a season of anticipation and anxiously waiting. As we wait for the day we get to see our daughter face to face and hold her in our arms for the first time, I can’t help but imagine what great expectations and excitement were stirring in the days leading up to our Savior’s birth. I’m so very thankful for the tangible reminder this year. And with that, I would love more than anything to introduce you all to our beautiful and beloved daughter, Norah Lian Jean Krieger. We received the referral phone call on November 12, and received our LOA (Letter of Approval) from China on December 16. She is currently 9 months old and recently underwent surgery for her cleft lip. She will be receiving surgery for her palate at home. We are hoping and praying to travel early/mid-March.
Of course we gotta have the out-takes….