Friday, May 27, 2011

We Proudly Announce Our New Daughter

Hannah Robyn Halvorson

After 14 long days of waiting for our PA from China, we are so excited to share her with all of you! Isn't she just precious? She has stolen our hearts and is already a very loved daughter and sister. She has some pretty proud grandparents too! She is the blessing God promised us when we trusted him and began to walk down the path he set before us! We are so thankful for the goodness God has shown to our family.

Our sweet daughter was born on March 11, 2010 in Chengdu, China. She was given the name Shan Ni. She was listed on our agency's individual list as Hanni on May 7th. She name caught my eye and I wondered if Hanni was our Hannah. We had months prior decided we would name our new daughter Hannah Robyn. We even have a pillow that was monogrammed "Hannah." Indeed, Hanni was to be our Hannah! It is so amazing that her Chinese name was so close to the name we had picked for her. God really didn't want us to miss it, did he?

Hannah means God's grace or God's mercy. She is further proof of God's mercy and grace in our lives! Robyn is after Chris' dad and fulfils our tradition of giving our children a middle name after someone we dearly love. Her file refers to her a "Little Nini" so we assume this is what they are calling her now. What a wonderful nickname for our girl!

Here are a few things about her... She loves to listen to music. She is active and restless (will fit in just fine in our busy house). She laughs out loud and loves to be teased. She likes to go outside and enjoys the sun (we have plenty of sun in the great state of Texas). She has a ready smile and likes to play games. She is closest to her caregiver.

Here are a few more pictures of her...

This is the picture from her referral. This was the first picture we ever saw of her.

This picture, the one at the top of the post and the next 2 came in the update we got of her 2 hours after we decided we wanted to adopt her. The update also include the information that she had already had her much needed heart surgery. See her scar on her chest in the picture above?

It was so great to get updated pictures of our little girl. Check out those beautiful eyes!

Look at her sweet cheeks, nose and lips in this one! We are so in love with her!

Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. Isaiah 43:5

Saturday, May 14, 2011

She's The One!!!

We are thrilled to say that we have been matched with the most beautiful baby girl in all of China (I might be a little biased, but I think it’s true)!!! We are all so excited and totally smitten! She is 14 months old and living in Chengdu China - in the Sichuan providence. Here is how the story unfolded...

Most adoption agencies that do China adoptions maintain an individual list. This is a list of kids specifically assigned to an agency for placement. As long as you are working with our agency you are eligible to match with the children on their individual list. You can see each child’s picture, birth date and a brief description of their special need. I’ve looked at this list daily since we started the process because new children can be added at anytime.

Before we headed to bed Saturday night (technically already Sunday) I looked at the list and noticed that some new children had been added. One girl caught my eye so I emailed my coordinator and asked if she would send me her file. My AMAZING coordinator emailed me the file about 10 minutes later. I looked at her file briefly, and headed to bed. When I woke up Sunday morning, I looked at her file again. She was a few days shy of 14 months, was cute as a button, and had a precious personality and had a congenital heart defect. I had no idea how severe her heart issues were, and knew we would need the help of a doctor. We headed out for our Mother’s Day activities and I told Chris that I would really like for both of us to sit down and look at the file together when we got home. We had a great Mother’s Day lunch with my mom and Chris’ mom. As the hours clicked by I was getting increasingly more anxious to get home to look at her file.

We got home around 4, got Hailey settled down for a nap and the boys interested in a game. We pulled out our computers and started to look at her file together. Chris agreed that she was cute, had a sweet personality and a heart condition that we weren’t skilled enough to decipher. We were interested enough in her to forward her file to two doctor friends. Soon we were learning that she had a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) and Pulmonary Hypertension (PH). VSD is a congenital defect where there is a hole between the ventricles of the heart. Her VSD was 10mm. PH is basically your blood pressure in your lungs. Both doctors felt like the VSD could be repaired with open heart surgery and that most likely the PH was being caused by her VSD and should subside when her VSD was corrected. Both of our wonderful doctor friends said they would do their best to forward her file to cardiologists for their opinion. We were so thankful for their help!

Monday her file was being sent to cardiologist and further forwarded to pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons who deal with heart conditions like hers on a weekly basis. Tuesday, Chris and I had lunch together and received an email from a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon confirming that her VSD should be able to be repaired and that most likely the PH would resolve itself after the hole in her heart was repaired. He did say that the sooner she received her heart surgery, the greater likelihood the PH would resolve. If she waited too long, the chances of permanent damage to the arteries in her lungs could mean that the PH would not resolve and become a lifelong medical issue for her. We were getting more and more excited about her and started to worry that someone else may discover this precious girl so we called out coordinator and asked to place her file on hold. The hold would allow us 72 hours to consider her exclusively. We were so thrilled to know that she wasn’t already on hold and overwhelmed at the huge decision that was now before us!

Her file was written when she was 7 months old and now she was a day away from being 14 months. What had been going on in the second half of her little life? Was she doing okay? Was she having any complications with her heart? What did she look like now? We had requested an update about her, but realistically knew that additional information may never come. If we could get an update, it very likely would come after our 72 hours window. We knew we couldn’t count on an update and that we needed to be prepared to make a decision with the information we had. At this point we were both very comfortable with her medical condition. All the doctors that had reviewed her file were confident that her VSD could be repaired. We just wanted to pray and pray that we were in God’s will on this one. Was she the one God had picked for us? We wanted to make sure we were following him, so we were in major prayer mode!

By Wednesday night the lack of a decision was really weighing on both of us! We each went for an evening (well more like 11 pm) run and both of us used this time alone to pray and beg God for his direction. I really wanted her to be the one, but fear of making the decision was my stumbling block. We had been so purposeful in following God through all of this that I certainly didn’t want to start charting my own path now. I prayed that God would see our total desire to follow him and give us the peace we needed to make a decision. By the end of my run, I was sold! I wanted her so badly and felt God had given me the peace I needed to move forward. I prayed Chris would come to the same decision. He went on his run after me and came home with a fantastic excitement about this sweet baby. He realized that all that he had prayed for was being answered with this child. We were both able to see how perfectly packaged this gift was and that it was straight from heaven!

Around midnight we decided that this sweet baby, who we first saw on Mother’s Day, would be our daughter! We would do want we could to get her home ASAP so that she could have her heart surgery and hopefully give her the best chance of recovering from her PH. We decided we would call our coordinator in the morning with the good news and to discuss how we could get her home as soon as possible.

This darling baby was now our daughter and I couldn’t wipe the giant smile off my face! We finally knew who she was! This sweet girl we had prayed so much for was becoming so real! We were both so excited that we couldn’t sleep. We laid in bed talking about her and how perfectly she would fit into our family. Then, at 2:29 am our eyes were getting heavy and we were beginning to dose off, my phone beeped indicating that I had an email. It was an email from our coordinator!!! I alerted Chris and we sat up and read the email together. Together we read these words “I am forwarding new pictures and ultra sound pictures (Before and After Surgery) to you.” We were in shock! Our sweet baby had already had her surgery to repair her heart! What an unexpected blessing! Then we saw 4 pictures of her that made us melt! She really is the most adorable thing in all of China!

The excitement was so high, that sleep was not an option! We were down-right giddy! 2 hours after we made our decision, God blessed us with the best update on her we could have received! If it had been in her file that she had already had surgery, I can guarantee that she would have been picked by a family long ago. God arranged every detail to reserve her just for us! How could we sleep at a time like this! We did finally dosed off around 5 am – about an hour before the alarm clocks would go off.

We told the boys before they left for school and shared the pictures with them! Happiness abounded! We were all so thrilled to see the face of the child we have all prayed for so much! Thursday was a fun day filled with sharing our exciting news with our families and close friends. Most had no idea that we had even been reviewing a file. Like us, they all expected that we wouldn’t get a match until our dossier was in China. It was a joyful day to say the least! Even with the lack of adequate sleep, the excitement of it all seemed to carry us through the day!

Thursday night and Friday morning we submitted all of our paperwork to file our LOI (letter of intent to adopt) for our girl. She is now officially matched with our family. Hopefully in a week or so China will issue our PA (Pre Approval) to adopt her. At that point we can share her picture on our blog and share more information about her! In a few weeks our dossier will be going to China. Once they receive it our coordinator estimates that we will travel to get her in about 4 to 5 months! So, we estimate that we should travel sometime in the fall.

We are so happy! We are anxious to share her sweet face with you all and more info about her after we get our PA. We thank you all for your prayers for us during this amazing journey! Please continue to pray for us and our little angel. God has been so good and faithful to us! God, who can do immeasurably more than we can ever ask or imagine, is indeed at work in our family! His fingerprints were all over this past week and we look forward to sharing the evidence of Him with you very soon!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

I’m so thankful for my 3 amazing kids! They are beautiful, funny, loving and totally wonderful children. I’m so blessed by each one of them and thankful beyond belief that I get to be their mom! We had a wonderful Mother’s Day today. I was treated to a yummy meal and precious handmade gifts from each of them. We had a fun day playing games, laughing and sharing lots of hugs!

Even though it was a great day, it was hard to not feel like someone was missing. You see, I have four kids, not three. Four precious kids occupy my heart. It was hard to not dream of our sweet China girl a little more than normal today. I can’t believe that next year there will be one more in the mix! One more Halvorson running around, making noise, making a mess, making my heart skip a beat and making our family complete.

On this Mother’s Day, I’m so thankful for the blessing of ALL my kids – the 3 under my wing and the one not yet home. I’m so excited to see what God has in store for our family!