Friday, February 29, 2008

Thought for the day

Some say that blood is thicker than water.
I say that love is thicker than blood-

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful for my house. Now I have to be honest, this is something that I have just recently become thankful for. Our house is pretty small and it is not located in the most prominent neighborhood. I didn’t really want to live here initially when we bought it seven years ago but Rusty was pretty firm that we were not going to buy something we couldn’t afford. We have a low mortgage and this has afforded us to be able to adopt Gracie and now Laurie Alice. It may also allow me to stay home in the very near future. More on that later!

I am thankful for Gracie’s teacher and her assistant. They are wonderful ladies and you can tell they love the children in the class. Gracie has received a great foundation from being with them and I hope it will carry over into the coming years. We love you Mrs. Yonce and Mrs. Watson!!!!!!!!

I am thankful that I have a great job that allows me some flexibility to do things with Gracie’s school, like I get to be the homeroom mom! It’s a low stress job most of the time and right across the street is the daycare where Gracie went and where Laurie Alice will go.

I am thankful that I NEVER have to do laundry. Rusty is the laundry guy and that’s a good thing because if were not for him we would go naked!!! He also grocery shops AND cooks 90% of our meals. He’s been known to shampoo the carpet and even wash and iron our drapes. I know I have it good. Thank goodness he learned well from his Daddy!!!

I know these aren’t deep spiritual things to be thankful for but I am truly thankful for them.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Poem for the Day

This is such a busy week for me so I haven't had a chance to post much. I thought I would post a Poem for the Day even though we are over half way through it. I can't wait to see our Laurie Alice. I love looking at her pictures and only wish I had more. She really does have a sweet face and I can't wait to kiss it. Here is a poem for you my sweet little Ladybug!


Kisses in the Wind

I hold you in my heart and touch you in my dreams.
You are here each day with me, at least that's how it seems.

I know you wonder where we are... what's taking us so long.
But remember child, I love you so and God will keep you strong.

Now go outside and feel the breeze and let it touch your skin...
Because tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind.

May God hold you in His hand until I can be with you.
I promise you, my darling, I'm doing all that I can do.

Very soon, you'll have a family for real, not just pretend.
But for tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind.

May God wrap you in His arms and hold you very tight.
And let the angels bring the kisses that I send to you each night.
--- Unknown

Monday, February 25, 2008

April, 2007 Letter

I was going through my old emails and came across the letter I sent to our family and friends to give them an update on the adoption. I thought I would go ahead and post it here so it won't get lost among all my emails. I found a place that will turn your blog into a book. I'm very interested in doing this next year and giving a copy to each of my girls so I think including the letter is a good idea.
Here it is: (I just went to preview this post, the formatting is a little off and I can't seem to correct it, sorry).

April 4, 2007

Dear Family and Friends,

I’m sure by this point everyone has heard of our plans to adopt again so I wanted to give you an update and let you know where we are in the process, how long the wait will be, and try to answer any questions you may have.

First the paperwork/boring part:

Our paperwork (dossier) has officially been sent to our agency for a final review and if all goes well, which I trust it will, they will then send it on to China where we will wait for a LID (long in date; the date China receives our dossier). In the traditional China program this is when the “Big Wait” takes place, which right now has been running between 16-18 months and in some cases even longer. Which brings me to our second topic…

We are adopting Special Needs; what this means and why:

Initially when we decided it was time to make the move and adopt we knew we didn’t want to have to wait forever for a baby as Rusty and I are getting older everyday and well so is Gracie (yep, we age everyday ). We knew the SN (special needs) program went rather quickly as China wants to place these children into homes as soon as possible so we thought, let’s do this, it’s fast. Rusty was actually the one to suggest it along with adopting an 18-24 month old and to be honest I was a bit apprehensive, I mean I think we’ve done okay by Gracie but what do I know about raising a child who needs extra attention and extra medical care. Its one thing to unknowingly give birth to a child with a SN but to specifically request one is a whole different story. I told Rusty I would have to pray about it. That took place towards the end of summer last year and through the fall. In September we attended our FCC (Families With Children from China) meeting and as it so happened the majority of the families present were the one’s who had adopted children ages 2 and up with various special needs. I had seen all of these children when they first came home and rejoiced right along with their parents but had never REALLY stopped and paid attention to the transformations that were taking place in their lives. All I can tell you is that at that meeting it was like God clicked on a light in my brain and He told me “look all around you at these faces, remember what these little one’s looked like when they first came home, they were scared, withdrawn and developmentally delayed, but look at them now, really look at their faces and what their lives look like now”. I did. I saw a little girl who once had a droopy eyelid now running around with her big sister with only a hint of the problem she had once had to endure; another four year old blind in one eye and only home for one month holding her parents hands and laughing and squealing with delight who could say “mama, dada and love”. I saw little ones with slightly crooked noses and scars on their lips that were slowly disappearing from the wonderful surgeries they had to repair their cleft lips and palates. These children were so beautiful to me and I had such a revelation that it brought me to tears. I knew in an instant, and without hesitation, in that moment the Lord had put the calling on my heart to go and get our little one with a special need. We got in the car to leave and I turned to Rusty and I said “We are going to do it. We are going to China to adopt a toddler with a special need”. Rusty just smiled and said “that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you, it just took you a little while to realize it”.

We have decided to adopt a child with a cleft lip/cleft palate. We met with a wonderful Christian doctor who will perform the procedure(s) when the time comes. He has actually gone to China on several mission trips and done cleft repair there. He told us that of all the SN adoptions we could do, this one would have the most life changing affect in a child’s life. He told us not to shy away from or feel overwhelmed by this. It is a “fixable” problem and at the most she would only maybe need 3 surgeries, speech therapy and then braces when she gets older. We feel extremely confident and are committed to our decision.

We submitted a medical request list to our agency mid February indicating the special need we felt comfortable with. For us, our “clock” started ticking in February and it typically takes 6-8 months for a referral that will be made by our agency. We look to hear something anytime between August – October. Once you accept the referral it takes 6-8 weeks to receive travel approval from China. If all goes well and we get a referral in August or September, we could conceivably travel the end of the year. When we get close to traveling we will set up our Yahoo group again so that everyone can follow our journey while in China. We promise to post this time.

What can you do as our family and friends?

Pray, pray, pray!!!! This will be a whole new experience for us. Our new daughter will be a toddler and old enough to know something is going on but unable to communicate how she feels about it. I’m sure you can understand how frustrated and scared she will be. Please pray that she will have an easy transition into our family. Also, pray for the orphanage staff, doctors, and nurses who are caring for her. Pray that if she has to have any surgeries before we can get to her that everything goes well and that they will have done a good job. Also, for the surgery or surgeries she will need once she gets home. I’ve been getting on line and looking at flights from Chicago to China to check on airfare and because there are so many families traveling to China every month flights book up very quickly. Please pray that we will have a comfortable flight over and that we will find four seats together (Mama will be going with us). Pray that Gracie will travel well and that she will also handle all the new adjustments. Pray for the remaining financial need for this adoption. He provided so well for us to bring Gracie home I have no doubt He will supply the need again.
My favorite verse of scripture is found in Isaiah 55: 8-9

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD.
"As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

I can’t tell you the number of times this scripture has come to me whenever I have struggled with difficulties in my life and things haven’t made sense. Not more than a year ago I never would have thought this is the road we were to go down but then I never thought we would ever go to China and we did and brought back a most treasured gift, our Gracie! His ways and thoughts definitely go beyond anything I could ever hope for. We want to change a child’s life while all along knowing we are going to be the ones truly blessed.

I was reading a message that a mother on one of my yahoo groups had posted about her Chinese daughter who was developmentally behind and I would like to close with her remark: “so your child isn’t as `advanced’ as the others in your group….take her home, love her, and be the one who stands between her and the world for the first time in her life”.

That’s exactly what we plan to do.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful for the newest addition to our family. Trace Wayne was born this week to my cousin and his wife. Isn’t he just about the most perfect looking baby you’ve ever seen! Congratulations Wayne and Ingrid and big brother Carter.

I am thankful for such a wonderful church family. They really are a great congregation. As their pastors wife they don’t place a lot of responsibilities and expectations on me. They allow me the time I need as a full time working mother to be the best wife I can be to their pastor and mother to our child and soon to be children. I have many friends in the ministry and I’m amazed at the demands placed on them. Thank you New Hope!!!!!!

I am thankful that my mother is feeling better. She has had some lower back pain and I was concerned about her. I get uncomfortable when my mother has health issues. I spoke to her this morning and she said today is much better.

I am thankful that I still have my grandparents in my life. They have played such an instrumental roll in who I am today. I don’t tell them nearly enough how important to me they are and what a blessing they have been to me. I’m thankful Gracie knows them and that Laurie Alice will too.

I am thankful to a loving Heavenly Father who loves me just the way I am. He loves me whether I’m singing His praises or if I’m off thinking I can do something on my own. He thinks I’m great even when I feel invisible and don’t think I’m all that much.

So what are you thankful for today? I encourage you to take out a pen and paper today and start making a list. I don’t think we focus enough on the positives in our lives. It’s too easy to get sucked up in the negatives.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Two Peas in a Pod

My sister sent me this picture of her and Gracie. They REALLY are two peas in a pod. They are so much alike in their personalities that it’s scary. My mother notices the similarities too. I’ve commented to Rusty that having Gracie brings back flashbacks of growing up with my sister. I think it’s a pretty neat connection. Now if Laurie Alice will have her Mama and Aunt Alice’s personality it will make things nice and even.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Happy Gotcha Day!!!!

On February 17, 2003 our lives were changed forever by our Emily Grace XiaoXiao. She has brought us much joy and happiness. I'm working on a slide show but until then please enjoy the photos.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Love Can Melt the Snow

I received the following email this morning from Half the Sky Foundation and wanted to post it here. I am so touched by the dedication of the orphange staff but it also makes me sad when I think about all the children who don't have families to keep them warm and provide for their basic needs. Please help me pray for the orphans in China and in other parts of the world. It is a long email but I think you will be touched from reading it.
Hello again from Half the Sky,

The warmer weather seems to be holding and the orphanages we’ve been in constant contact with are all struggling to return life to something like normal. We are coming close to completing the needs list If you’ve been concerned about a particular orphanage and don’t find it on the list, it’s highly likely that they either have no storm-related needs or they have found help from local government or another organization. By early next week, I think we can promise that we’ll have found a way to reach everyone who needs help.

We estimate that total relief funds needed will be around 3 – 3.25 million yuan RMB (or US$420-450,000). Amazingly, donations continue to come in from all of you who love the children so. Our days have settled into a strange rhythm as we go between hearing about the struggles the orphanage directors are facing and opening the mail and finding your gifts that will surely make things better. Thanks to this most extraordinary community, we feel pretty confident now that we will be able to meet all of the institutions most urgent needs and have some funds left over to ensure provisions and supplies for a safer (or at least, better prepared) future for children in institutions.

Today we received a special letter from the director of the Chenzhou welfare institution. While it’s addressed to Half the Sky, it’s really for all of you who’ve watched and cared and done so much to help. So here's a New Year's gift from China to you - the story of the Spring Festival storms from someone who lives it still.

From Director Shi Xiangqun, Chenzhou – “Love Can Melt the Ice” -

“In late January of 2008, Chenzhou was attacked by an extremely severe snow disaster which had been rarely seen in history. Influenced by continuous bad weather, the electricity and water supply were cut off, the traffic was plagued, so was the communication network. Since Jan 1, there had been no more electricity and water supply in Chenzhou Children’s Welfare Institution. Lacking light, heat and water, the life of more than 100 children in the institution had come to a crisis. The children were in bad need of cotton clothes, quilts, and disposable diapers, etc. Food supply in the institution faltered. And a lot of trees in the yard had fallen down. Facing such a situation, leaders of the institution carried out a series of measures to fight against the snow disaster. And all staff of the institution took their initiative to be engaged in the disaster-relief work.

“On Jan 24, 2008, the directors of the institution reported to the municipal government about the snow disaster, and they managed to get supplies from the Civil Affairs department, which included staple food, vegetables, biscuits and some cotton clothes. They also organized the staff of the institution to purchase needed goods from the markets. These actions all helped to relieve the huge difficulties brought by the disaster.

“Since the electricity network of Chenzhou was destroyed in the disaster and the electricity cutoff lasted for more than 10 days, illuminating and heating system of the institution couldn’t function normally. So besides material supply, the institution also made a lot of efforts to ensure the heat supply. To prevent the babies from frostbite, the institution right away installed 22 furnaces that burned coal in the babies’ rooms. They also bought candles at a high price, to light the rooms up. The nannies put the children in thick clothes and quilts, and they accompanied the children by their cribs, warmed their quilts with hot-water bags.

“After the water supply was cut off, the institution tried hard to get enough water for the children’s daily needs. On one hand, they contacted the company producing purified water to buy bottled water. On the other hand, they requested the fire fighters to send enough water with fire engines. They also arranged all staff of the institution, the nannies and caregivers to fetch water from a well which was 800 meters away from the institution. It was such a long distance and they also had to go up and downstairs to carry the water. Plus the bad weather, the wet and slippery road, many people would fall down on the way and got themselves all wet.
However, none of them made any complaints. They just stood up again and kept on the work.

“After carrying water back and forth for 20 times a day, many staff got exhausted by the end of the day, while their effort paid off: they have ensured the children a normal life during the disaster. When thick snow and fallen trees blocked the way in the institution, the staff always worked in time to carry away the snow, fallen branches and leaves, as well as other garbage, to make sure the traffic in the institution smooth. Due to the electricity cutoff, the bank was closed, therefore the nannies and caregivers couldn’t get paid on time and the children’s daily necessities also couldn’t be purchased in time. As to this problem, the leaders and staff of the institution have tried to collect money by all means, to buy all kinds of needed materials, in order to prevent the children from cold and hunger.

“In China we have an old saying: A friend in need is a friend indeed and love can help us out of crisis. The Central Committee and the State Council have attached great importance to the disaster in Chenzhou. We got many national and international phone calls asking about the situation here and showing solicitude for children. “When disaster strikes, help comes from all sides.” The international long-distance call might be disrupted at any time. We appealed the departments involved to ensure people can get through to us and also worked to clear snow and ice on the line, in order to keep contact with the outside world in such bad weather.

“Half the Sky Foundation reached us immediately and paid close attention to the disaster all the time. Jenny, ZZ [Zhang Zhirong], Jeronia [Jeronia Muntaner, HTS Infant Nurture Program Director] and HTS field supervisors inquired about the situation and set about helping us in a variety of ways.

“In spite of long journey and cold weather, Richard [Richard Bowen] purchased a batch of disaster-relief goods in Guangdong Province and headed to Chenzhou which is more than 500km away in a Jeep. He arrived at our institution at 9pm on Feb. 5, 2008, offering us goods and money. As there was no electricity supply, he unloaded the goods together with institution staff by the faint light of candles. His arrival really meant a lot to us and the disaster-relief goods met our urgent needs. On the next day, Richard came to the institution early in the morning though he was pretty tired of the long journey and got detailed information about our difficulties in the disaster. He tried his best to help us solve some problems and before he left Chenzhou, he gave us 50,000 yuan and told us to face the disaster in a strong will. He said Half the Sky Foundation would strongly support Chenzhou Welfare Institution and never allow any child get hungry or cold. Yes, in front of natural disaster, there is no nationality difference in terms of love. True love can melt ice and snow and all difficulties can be overcome.

“In such a chilly winter, we feel rather warm because of your support and concern. The word “thanks” cannot express our moving feeling toward the foundation’s timely help. What we can do is only giving our sincere bless to all of you.

“Through out the fight against blizzards, all institution staff, Half the Sky nannies, teachers and caregivers stuck to their posts and performed their duties. Some people didn’t go home to have a reunion with their family members on the New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Instead, they spent the festival with the children. On Feb. 9, 2008, thanks to the government’s leadership and repair workers’ hard work, the electricity power in our institution restored. On Feb. 10, 2008, water supply became normal and the children ushered in a bright Chinese New Year.

“When disaster struck, we didn’t fear or panic, we didn’t shrink back; what we had was determination, struggle and unity. From the very beginning, we held the belief that we could get through the disaster, and finally we did live through 20 days and nights without electricity and water.

“In the New Year, Director Shi Xiangqun, leading all staff, nannies and caregivers, would like to give our best regards to all members in Half the Sky Foundation: Happy New Year! May all your heart’s wishes be fulfilled!
All the best with your work! Live a happy life with your family!”

I couldn’t possibly say it better –

with love, Jenny

ps – This is the last time I will ask - If you would like to make a donation to the Little Mouse Emergency Fund please visit our website or click here:


Jenny Bowen
Executive Director
Half the Sky Foundation

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Today is Thankful Thursday and since it falls on Valentine's Day I thought I would start off # 1 with

My husband. He is my best friend and my favorite person to hang out with. He is my rock and the calming force in my life. I don't know what I did to deserve him but I'm sure thankful I'm married to him. In addition to being a great husband he is the best father I know. I hope Gracie and Laurie Alice know how lucky they are to have him as a their Daddy.

I’m thankful for my nephew Blake who turned 9 years old on Tuesday. Happy Birthday Blake!!!!! Love, Aunt Leslie

I’m thankful that my daughter has a wonderful and active imagination. She is full of life and although at times I’m at a loss as how to wrangle all that personality up, I wouldn’t change it for one minute. I could write a book with all the funny things she tells us. Lately she has started inventing words like "Computating" (I’m spelling it how she pronounces it), which means to sit at a computer all day.

I’m thankful for the many great friends I have now and for friends to come. I have so much joy in my life because of these friendships. There are some extra special ones because I can see how the hand of God brought these people in my life. I’ll write about that one day soon.

Of course I’m always thankful for my family both immediate and extended. I feel so lucky to have such a close relationship with my sisters and my mother. The relationship with my sisters is the main reason we decided to adopt again. I know how special it is to have siblings and I want the same thing for my girls. I’m also very lucky that I have a friendship with my sister-in-law. So many families have in-law problems but not us.

I am thankful for many more things but I'll just list four or five things each week.

I hope everyone has a happy Valentines Day!!!

Red Thread Poster

There is a saying among families adopting from China;

An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle but will never break.

When I saw this poster for sale on the Half the Sky Foundation website it made me cry so I knew I had to have it. I plan to have it matted and framed and hang it in our den. The proceeds go towards Half the Sky. Laurie Alice's orphanage has a program sponsored by them. You can check it out here:

Monday, February 11, 2008

Different Trips to the Same Place

I saw this and loved it! This is to everyone who found the wonderful road to adoption after much heartache and disappointment.

Different Trips to the Same Place

Deciding to have a baby is like planning a trip to Australia. You've heard it's a wonderful place, you've read many guidebooks and feel certain you're ready to go. Everyone you know has traveled there by plane. They say it can be a turbulent flight with occasional rough landings, but you can look forward to being pampered on the trip.

So you go to the airport and ask the ticket agent for a ticket to Australia. All around you, excited people are boarding planes for Australia. It seems there is no seat for you; you'll have to wait for the next flight. Impatient, but anticipating a wonderful trip, you wait - and wait - and wait.

After a long time the ticket agent tells you, "I'm sorry, we're not going to be able to get you on a plane to Australia. Perhaps you should think about going by boat!

""BY BOAT!" you say. "Going by boat will take a very long time and it costs a great deal of money." So you go home and think about not going to Australia at all. But you have long dreamed of this wonderful place, and finally you decide to go by boat.

It is a long trip, many months over many rough seas. Meanwhile, your friends have flown back and forth to Australia two or three more times, marveling about each trip.

Then one glorious day, the boat docks in Australia. It is more exquisite than you ever imagined, and the beauty is magnified by your long days at sea. You have made many wonderful friends during your voyage, and you find yourself comparing stories with others who have also traveled by sea rather than by air.

You will always wonder what it would have been like to fly to Australia. Still, you know God has blessed you with a special appreciation of Australia, and the beauty of Australia is not in the way you get there, but in the place itself.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Here are the referral pictures of Laurie Alice. She was born on 12/28/2005 and is in the Chongqing Orphange. We received the referral on January 16th at 3:00 and accepted right then! Her Chinese name is Yu Wan Chang. Yu is her surname; Wan means ten thousand, a very great number; Chang is fluent, free. She is now
Laurie Alice Wan Chang

Email from CCAI

We received this email yesterday from our agency. I am so relived to hear that Laurie Alice’s orphanage hasn’t been hit hard by the recent snow storms in China.

Hi Rusty & Leslie,

Hope you are well! Since the beginning of the recent snow storms in China, CCAI has been keeping in close contact with our representatives and monitoring conditions, especially in the areas where CCAI families’ matched children are waiting. I wanted to let you know that our Chongqing rep contacted the Chongqing Orphanage again last night, and she reports that Chongqing is not that much affected by the snow storm. All our children, including Yu Wan Chang, are doing well. The orphanage said the only thing that affects them is that their kids do not have proper “outdoor time” in this cold weather.

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Beginning

Ta Da!!! I am officially a blogger!!!

Let me start by saying that my grammar is probably not going to be the best because I will more than likely be posting way past my bedtime and well I'm just not that great with punctuations etc...... This is for my girls more than anything so I'm not going to stress over it. I decided to start this in lieu of scrap booking and keeping chronological photo albums. I want to give a big thank you to my friend Sharon who designed my blog. You will find her Spiffy Blog site on this page. "Thank you Sharon".

So here goes.........

I would like to talk about why the scripture in the heading is so important to me. After the loss of our third pregnancy I was going through a very difficult time spiritually. I had a lot of questions for God and to be honest, I was extremely angry with Him. I wanted answers and I wanted to know how everything was going to turn out. Rusty and I wanted children and I just felt like God owed me an explanation as to why it wasn't happening. I really can't remember if this scripture was on a card someone sent me or maybe I saw it while I was reading my bible but where ever it was I remember this verse literally leapt off of the page (which sripture has a way of doing). I kept reading it over and over and over again. I realized in that moment that God really didn't have to explain anything to me. He ultimately was in control of the situation and He knew far better than me how all of this was going to play out. This scripture healed my heart and it gave me the strength I needed to turn my mourning into joy and helped me through the long journey of adoption. You know, it did indeed come out so much better than I could have ever imagined!!!! If the Lord had told me many years ago I was going to get on a plane and fly to China to bring home a little girl I would not have believed it or understood just how wonderful it was going to be.

So here we are again having just received the referral for Laurie Alice Chan Wang Trotter. I have no idea what bringing this child into our family is going to hold but I know it's going to be BIG and I know it's going to be great because through all of this I have learned that His ways are far better and turn out much greater than anything I could ever imagine or put my hand to.