A Letter to Tucker: 3rd Birthday

Dear Tucker,

Tonight as I rocked you, I found myself singing the very same song that I sang to you in China the first night I held you in my arms. The sweetest part was hearing you sing those words right along with me. It is our song, Tuck, and for the rest of my life, I'll think of you when I hear it.

Hearts beat fast.
Colors and promises.
How to be brave.
How can I love when I'm afraid to fall.
Watching you stand alone.
All of my doubts,
Suddenly goes away somehow.
One step closer...
I have died everyday waiting for you.
Tucker, don't be afraid.
I have loved you for a thousand years.
I'll love you for a thousand more.

As I rocked you, I was thinking about that first night, how tiny and light you felt in my arms. Tears ran down my face in disbelief that we were finally together that night. You fought sleep for a few moments, and I assured you that you were safe and could go to sleep. Soon after, your eyes closed, and you fell asleep so peacefully in my arms. That night was such a gift, and I will never forget it.

You've been home now for six months and two days. I miss China all the time and cannot wait to go back someday. I know you are so young, yet you have incredible memories from your life before our family. I long for the days that you have the language and ability to share more with us. Last week, you and I were looking through a book together, talking about different kinds of fruits, animals, household items, etc. I turned to one specific page that talked about members of a family, and there were two pretty Asian girls next to one another. You pointed to them immediately and said, "China!" It was precious. Then, I saw a CD called Little Dragon Tales: Chinese Children's Songs on our Lifeline Facebook group and played the free samples of each song for you. I could have sworn that when I played one specific song, you looked at me with tears in your eyes. It broke my heart. I try to show you pictures of your time in China with your friends and nannies to help you remember and to honor your life before our family. I recently sent 20 pictures of you to your sweet nanny through another mom who recently adopted a little boy from your orphanage. Thanks again, Betty!

I was told that your nanny was so happy to receive them! I will always love this woman. She is so very special. I believe with my whole heart that you are alive because of her. I really hope that we can go visit her together someday.

Speaking of special people, I also found myself thinking about your birth mom while I rocked you tonight. I wondered if she, too, was thinking about it being your birthday tomorrow. I wish I could tell her you are safe and that we love you so much. I wonder where she lives, what she looks like, and wonder if she has dimples like you. I think about your birth father and wonder about his story. Do his eyes sparkle like yours when he smiles? I know as you grow older, you will think about them, too. You will have so many questions, and I know we will rarely have the answers you desire. I can only imagine the emotions you will experience. All I can promise you is that we will create a space where you can feel safe and loved as you process all of your thoughts and emotions. We will always be your family forever and ever. We can pray for your birth mom and birth dad. They gave you life, and we will always be grateful for that, my love.

You have changed so much in the past six months. You have gained nearly 6 lbs., and I am guessing that you have grown at least a couple inches. You understand so much English now and are saying more and more new words all the time. You have been so healthy and made it through surgery and recovery with flying colors. You adore your brothers, especially Noah who is very tender and loving to you. I know you enjoy your time with Liam, too, but that kid can be down right crazy sometimes. His playful chasing and squeezing hugs can overwhelm you, but you are learning to trust him, too. When your daddy comes home from work, you run to the door as fast as your tiny legs can carry you. No matter what time of day, you greet him with a loud and happy, "Good morning!!" We love it and don't have the heart to correct you because it is so cute.

Tuck, our relationship has come so far. From China to now, we have had quite a journey together. You have taught me so much about the way God loves us - so unconditional and with such grace. Even when we turn from Him, He pursues us still. Our beginning was not easy, and I had to dig deep in my attempt to love like God. Even when you brushed me off and turned away from me, I knew the only way we could build our relationship was to keep pursuing you just like God. With time and many prayers, our roots grew deeper and our love for one another grew stronger. I am so thankful for a God who redeems and reconciles, sweet boy.

Tucker, God is the creator of life, and your life has a purpose. I know your beginnings were unlike your brothers, mine, or your daddy's. Just remember that Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, was born in a situation that did not align with the values of His time either. Nevertheless, a more important person has never existed.  God chooses unexpected heroes to accomplish His works. He takes ordinary people like you and me, fills them with His purpose, and His Kingdom is impacted in powerful ways. If you are willing to give your life to Christ, He can do incredible things through you regardless of your beginnings, your mistakes, or your shortcomings. God uses the least likely people to accomplish great things. David was the youngest and smallest. Moses was of poor speech. Yet, God used their lives in powerful ways. How will you let God use your life?

You have already changed your daddy's, Noah's, Liam's, and my life in such extraordinary ways. I have received letter upon letter from our family and friends the past week, sharing how you have impacted their lives, as well. They are all so special, and I hope they will speak to your heart someday. More than anything, I want you to know and believe that you are valued, loved, important, desired, enjoyed, secure, and treasured. I can't wait to watch you grow and change over the next months and weeks and years. We love you so much! Thank you for changing our lives and helping us understand what truly matters in this life.



A Favor for Tucker's Birthday

For the past couple of months, I've been thinking about Tucker's birthday. This will be his first birthday with our family, and I know it will be an emotional day filled with celebration. Last year, we sent him a birthday cake and gifts to the orphanage where he was able to celebrate with friends, and this year he will celebrate with his family and friends at home!

April 2013
For those of you who have followed our journey, you know that I am a pretty open book. In fact, my blog is titled "My Passionate Balance: Living a Transparent Life in Hopes of Inspiring Happiness in Others." I have shared the highs and the lows of our adoption journey. With great detail, I have described the heartache I felt being half the world away from Tucker. I wrote about the joys of each step that we became closer to reaching him. I took you to China with me, telling stories about each day we spent in Beijing, Chongqing, and Guangzhou. I've also opened my heart and talked about the challenges that our family experienced transitioning to life as a family of five. I wrote about the rejection I experienced and how my own bond with Tucker took time and effort. I wore my heart on my sleeve in hopes that others could...

...see the amazing gift of adoption.
...understand the joys and sorrows of this journey.
...open their hearts and minds to the idea of adoption for their families.
...start praying about their family's role in orphan care.
...learn about another aspect of this world with which they are unfamiliar.
...give themselves grace and believe that it is normal to have difficulty with attachment.
...understand that it is God, not us, who gets all the glory.

Someday, Tucker is going to learn that I have written all about him, his past in China, our adoption process, and his life since coming home. I can imagine how this might bring him both happiness and sadness. He will have so many details from this very special time in our lives. At the same time, to have the intimate details of his life in plain view for all to read might hurt. This is part of his story, though it is told from my perspective and through my eyes. I continue to write about Tucker, our family, and this journey that continues despite his adoption being complete because I believe with my whole heart that God is using it in powerful ways. I have received email, Facebook messages, phone calls, and text messages from people who have been impacted by our family's story. I do not believe that God spoke to me on July 19, 2012, asking our family to adopt Tucker, just to bring him home. I believe He has a greater purpose, and bit by bit, I am able to see planted seeds come to fruition.

So this is my favor that I'm asking from you. Every year for my sons' birthdays, I write them a letter and post it on my blog.

I would like to invite you to write Tucker a letter for his birthday, describing how reading about our adoption journey, his life, and his story has impacted your life.

I will print each of the letters and save them for him to read when the time is right. With your permission, I might share pieces of what you write but will keep your name anonymous. Tucker's birthday is April 28th, which is a week from today, and I would love to have all of the letters by that time. Thank you for your consideration! I cannot wait to read your special letters to our son. My hope is that your letters will bring him comfort and help him understand how God has used his life and his story to impact others for His glory. Thank you for helping with this very special gift that we look forward to giving Tucker someday!

Please email all letters to lettersfortucker@gmail.com.


Passion Into Action: Fundraiser Results

Whenever I have a big idea, I tend to get really excited about it. I spend hours researching, learning, creating, and developing. In this situation, I spent hours looking at t-shirt ideas, choosing the types of fonts I liked, which layout I wanted, which verse would be perfect, which colors would be appealing, and which statement to make. I exchanged over 30 email with a guy at Fund The Nations trying to get the design just right. Then, just before I shared my idea with the world, I started to doubt myself. I began to wonder if anyone else would really want to join this campaign.

I thought maybe 50 people would buy shirts.

Maybe 100 at the most.

I had no idea what God had planned for this fundraiser.

My Passion Into Action blog post was shared more time than any other post I've ever written, and it was viewed over 6,800 times. I cannot begin to express how amazed I was at the excitement behind our this fundraiser and this campaign! This fundraiser was part of the larger Forget the Frock movement that encourages people to wear something that really matters to church on Easter Sunday. I chose five incredible charitable organizations as possible recipients of the funds raised, and for each t-shirt purchased or donation made, a vote could be placed one of those five organizations: Love Without Boundaries, International Justice Mission, Charity Water, Wishes For Our Heroes, and Village of Hope.

Are you ready to find out the results of the Passion Into Action campaign?


And as for the winning charitable organization....drum roll please.....

The Passion Into Action 2014 winner is LOVE WITHOUT BOUNDARIES with 240 out of 434 votes (55%)!!!

Other results are as follows:

International Justice Mission: 63 votes (14%)
Charity Water: 35 votes (8%)
Wishes For Our Heroes: 31 votes (7%)
Village of Hope: 66 votes (15%)

As a reminder, Love Without Boundaries began in 2003 after a group of adoptive parents came together to help save the life of one tiny boy in China. LWB provides humanitarian aid to orphans and impoverished children in China through education, foster care, healing homes (homes for orphans with serious medical issues), medical attention (hospitalizations and surgical procedures), nutrition, and orphanage assistance. Check out a video HERE.

Here is a breakdown of how the funds were used:

Total Money Collected (donations and t-shirts): $8,213.00
PayPal Fees (for t-shirt transactions): $277.11
Cost of T-shirts: $3,160.30
Cost of Shipping Bags/Labels: $52.74
Cost of Shipping: $372.85


Now comes the exciting part. I was able to spend Friday night making donation after donation to Love Without Boundaries. In fact, I made so many large donations that my bank shut down my debit card for fear that a security breach had taken place. No kidding! I had to call costumer service after 9:00 p.m. to ask them to turn my debit card back on so I could finish the donations. Because you all decided to participate and bought t-shirts to wear on Easter Sunday, participants of the Passion Into Action campaign are helping NINE different children served by Love Without Boundaries. Keep reading for details and pictures of each child. Descriptions are provided by LWB.

Wanda: Medical Treatment (Guangxi Province)
Amount Donated: $510

Sweet Wanda has a blood disorder called Thalassemia, a condition in which the body makes an abnormal form of hemoglobin. When she starts feeling fatigued and short of breath, Wanda needs to be admitted to the hospital for a blood transfusion. After her treatment, she starts feeling much better but is needing transfusions every two months or so. Wanda will now receive six months of treatments thanks to this fundraiser and other donors who covered the first $1,000 needed.

Carlos: Healing Home (Shanxi Province)
Amount Donated: $600

Carlos was born with a unilateral cleft lip and cleft palate. He was also born with congenital syphilis but was successfully treated as soon as he came to LWB's Starbridge Healing Home. Carlos has needed extra care and specailized feeding by the healing home nannies in preparation for his cleft surgery, anticipated to be done at LWB's upcoming Cleft Exchange in April. Sponsors will receive monthly updates and photos of this tiny baby boy. Sponsorships are $50 per month, and our fundraiser is providing one full year of sponsorship for sweet Carlos!

Celeste: Healing Home (Fujian Province)
Amount Donated: $600

Baby Celeste joined us at Heartbridge in January of 2014. At 11 months old, she weighed only 4.7 kg (just over 10 pounds). Celeste had just been through heart surgery, and once she is strong enough she will also need surgery for megacolon. At this point Celeste does not feed well, so her nannies are doing their best with frequent, small feedings. Hopefully the rest of Celeste will grow to match those big beautiful eyes in a hurry! Sponsors will receive monthly updates and photos of this tiny baby girl. Sponsorships are $50 per month, and our fundraiser is providing one full year of sponsorship for sweet Celeste!

Amanda: Healing Home (Anhui Province)
Amount Donated: $600

Amber is almost 3 months old and weighs just over 7 pounds. She was born with an intestinal obstruction and congenital syphilis. She has received surgery on her intestinal obstruction and has been successfully treated for syphilis. She needs some extra care as she recovers from her surgery before transferring to foster care. Sponsorships are $50 per month, and our fundraiser is providing one full year of sponsorship for sweet Amanda!

Gideon): Foster Home (Anhui Province)
Amount Donated: $480

Gideon is five-month old. He was born prematurely and only weighed 1 kg. He is doing well now and loves to be held and talked to. He will "talk" to you and smile happily. He likes a quiet environment and gets fussy if there are too many people around.  Gideon has spent several months in a Healing Home and is now due to return to his hometown and enter of foster care program. Each sponsor will receive a monthly report and photos of this gorgeous little boy. Our fundraiser is helping to support Gideon's foster care placement for a full year!
Rob: Foster Home (Anhui Province)
Amount Donated: $480

6 month old Rob has just been discharged from our Anhui Healing Home back to his hometown of Huainan where he has entered our foster care program. Rob is described as cute and active.  He loves to babble and giggle.  We are looking forward to seeing him settle with his new family over the next few months. Each sponsor will receive a monthly report and photos of this gorgeous little boy. Our fundraiser is helping to support Gideon's foster care placement for a full year!

Meng Ting: Secondary Education (Anhui Province)
Amount Donated: $240

This beautiful young lady, Meng Ting, is a high school student in LWB's Anhui Secondary and Higher Education Program. Meng Ting in currently in her second year of high school and is working hard to try to make a difference in her family’s lives. Meng Ting had surgery when she was young to correct a condition that causes her to have severe headaches. Her mother and father also having ongoing health problems that require daily medicines. Despite these difficulties Meng Ting’s parents get up early each day to work on a relative’s farm just to earn enough money to pay for day-to-day essentials. Life is hard, and little money is left to pay for their daughter’s tuition. Meng Ting is so grateful to be given the opportunity to remain in school and to work toward a brighter future. Sponsors will receive quarterly photographs and updates on this incredible young lady’s progress and will make a difference not only in her life but also in the lives of her hard-working parents. Our fundraiser has helped fund Meng Ting's education for a full year!

Harley: Education (Guangdong Province)
Amount Donated: $400

Harley is a cute three year old in LWB's Believe in Me Shaoguan School.  He has a cleft lip & palate that we hope will be repaired soon. Harley attends our pre-school class in the Believe in Me Shaoguan School, Sponsors will receive quarterly reports on Harley, along with access to many new photos of him & his peers! Our fundraiser is helping to fund his education for more than a year!

Adoption Assistance Grant
Amount Donated: $440
One of the basic beliefs at LWB is that every child deserves a family to call his or her very own. We have helped over a dozen children find their forever families with our adoption assistance grants.
LWB's adoption assistance grants are offered to children in China's waiting children program to help make their dreams of a loving family a reality. These grants are offered as funding allows. It is our hope that an adoption assistance grant will give a child that little boost needed to be chosen by a loving family. Our fundraiser is helping to begin a brand new adoption assistance grant! Here are three children who are waiting for their forever families and who currently have grants toward their adoptions.


 David: $3,000 LWB Grant Available
 Luke: $3,000 LWB Grant Available

Victor: $2,245 LWB Grant Available plus $4,000 Reece's Rainbow Grant
For all of you who participated in this Passion Into Action campaign, I hope you are more than excited about how much money you helped raise and how many children are being impacted by this fundraiser. A good idea is only as good as the people who support it! I can't thank you enough for helping making this fundraiser more than I ever could have hoped. I want to thank my husband, Ryan, for helping double check every single order and for taking HUGE boxes filled with ready-to-ship packages to the post office. I also want to thank some of my very best friends, Dalia, Claire, Kerri, Lisa, Beckie, and Christy for helping me sort through all 434 shirts, package them, check and double check, and finally weigh, seal, and print shipping labels for all packages. My precious "twins," Liam and Tucker, rode around with me for over two hours while I dropped off  local orders. I couldn't have done this without all of you!!
Please take pictures of your family wearing your shirts this Easter and share them on social media with a link to this blog post and use the hashtags #forgetthefrock and #changestartswithone. I can't wait until Easter 2015 to do this all over again!



Tshirt Update

Fund The Nations (design and printing company) emailed today to say they are shipping the shirts to me tomorrow! I'm guessing I will receive them Monday. Once I sort and package them, I will mail them out! Thanks for your patience! You will have them with plenty of time before Easter. 

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