Saturday, February 25, 2012

One Week Home!

Me and my cuddle bug after bathtime (I might be right up there with daddy now!)

Saturday morning breakfast

Little colder than he's used to! This scarf and hat was given to him by his nannies.

Minivan is looking a little crowded! (one of the moments I dreamt about - seeing all my babies back there =)

Quick trip to the zoo to see the dino exhibit and the monkeys (zoopasses are the best!) It felt good to get out today!

Yeah...there's nothing like it (we've come a long way!!)

I LOVE this necklace my wonderful friends and kairos partners, Cassie and Kristin gave me!!!

Just had to include this one - I promise I didn't stage this!

It's been another fun day with Zachary. He's is such an amazing little boy and so delightful. Tonight he copied us saying all 4 of the kids' names - he is such a quick little guy. He is very busy but it's an exploring, playing, being silly kind of busy. He still gets pretty upset at naptime and bedtime and is very cautious around new people but overall he seems to be adjusting so well. I have had so many people ask me about the language barrier and how we would communicate with Zac. I remember someone saying that would be the least of our worries and they were right. I don't often know what he's saying but somehow we communicate just fine! He is picking up English words so quickly and we know some Mandarin now so we get by.

Last night we watched a movie as a family and he snuggled in my lap the whole time. I just drank it all in...I am still completely amazed that he is here in our house. We all are so in love with him - I can't even explain it. He is OUR baby, without a doubt. There is such a joy in our home - there always has been but it has grown with Zachary here. His smile is so bright. We noticed that on many of the pictures we had gotten from the orphanage he had a big smile on his face and now we can see why! He is a joyful child and loves to make us laugh.

I finally unpacked the suitcases today (we've been home a week =). Not gonna lie, I am exhausted keeping up with these five busy little ones but I count it as JOY!! I often sing the little Veggie Tales song, "A Thankful Heart is a Happy Heart" to my kids (and they roll their little eyes at their dorky mom) but it's true! I am so very thankful and my heart is overflowing. We have been sustained by lots of prayers and delicious meals from sweet friends (thank you!!!).

My good friend Sara came over yesterday with her little daughter who was adopted from China and at one moment Samantha and Zachary were standing together and I just looked at them and words can't describe the awe I felt at our God, who parted the waters and made a a way for these two beautiful 2-year-olds to be here together. Sara has been my encourager, my prayer warrior, my friend in this process and being together with our two little Asian miracles was a very special moment for me. It also made me think about all the other Zacharys and Samanthas out there who are these incredible children, created and loved by our Father in heaven who still need a family. I have had two people talk to me about starting the adoption process since I got home - God is moving on behalf of the orphans and He will make a way!!

Time to turn in and rest when they are resting...blogs might be few and far between now but I will continue to update how things are going in the Vandewater house. I have been so surprised at how many people have said, "I read your blog!" This is God's story so it makes me happy to know people are following it and celebrating with us. Humbled and grateful...jaymi

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lainey's Prayer

My seven-year-old Lainey's sweet prayer was answered today...thanking Jesus for my amazing kids (all 5 of them).

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Traveling HOME

We had to see Taipei 101 before we left!

Justin wanted to go to the top so Grace, Zac and I waited by the elevator. This moment of "content Zachary" lasted about 2 minutes...he wanted daddy BAD and he couldn't come back down fast enough! Zac was screaming and crying and all these sweet Taiwanese people were looking at Grace and I like we had kidnapped him! Some of them looked genuinely concerned! Others talked to us and tried to help calm him down. Finally "baba" (daddy) came off the elevator and all was well again.

Justin's view from the top of Taipei 101!

In front of Taipei 101

We went to a place called "The Diner" across the street from Taipei 101 for dinner and Zac came alive again (he did every time we went out to eat!) We love seeing his fun, silly side and are so happy when he eats because he hasn't wanted to eat very much.

Taipei at night - very beautiful

We woke up at 4:30 am and headed to the airport. Little did we know what the day would hold...

To make a long story short, I was completely nauseated the entire flight from Taipei to Tokyo and yes, I did throw up on the plane. Justin, Grace and Zac sat in the 3 seats together and I sat in the center with a couple of strangers (who were very glad to be seated next to the pea-green colored American girl who was puking in the little white bag.) Zac was beside himself the entire flight, kicking, crying, absolutely terrified. It was bumpy and long and he hated it. Justin couldn't even do anything to calm him and Justin told me later he thought he was going to lose it...but he didn't - he was patient and calm and did the best he could with a very upset baby (and a wife who was unable to help him!)

The next flight was the long one - 12 hours from Tokyo to Minneapolis. I started the flight out still nauseated and it began as well as the last one - puked in the bag again. I am not joking people, it was not pretty. Zac did even worse on this flight. He would not calm down. He was exhausted and I prayed so hard that he would fall asleep and Justin could have a little break. Zac slept about 1 hour of the 12 hour flight. Let me tell ya, my husband is the most AMAZING man in the world. He was so tired and weary but he hung in there and took care of Zachary the entire flight. Zac just could not get comfortable and was so restless and so very upset. I couldn't even look at him and he would scream even louder! The people around us were absolutely wonderful. They were so kind and understanding. Many of them commented on what a wonderful father Justin was. They couldn't believe his patience and gentleness. I had to laugh at the girl behind me, she said she thought Justin must have been a single father because he had no wife there to help him (that would be me!). I did feel better about half way through the flight, thankfully. It was long and painful, I will not pretend it wasn't. We knew it would come to an end, but it felt like forever. At one point I looked at Justin and said, "Some day we'll laugh about this??" He said, "Not for a LONG time."

Finally at the Minneapolis airport. We were so thankful for this security guard who went back onto the plane to find Zac's blankie and also let us through customs even though we had 2 bananas I had forgotten about. He said, "Just give me those guys may go on through." The flight home went great - no vomiting and very little crying!!!

And these were the beautiful faces waiting for us when we arrived!!!!

Welcome home signs from our 3 "middle ones"

One of the best moments of my life was seeing all these people we love so much. I couldn't get to them fast enough!

After 24 hours of traveling, I wanted my babies!!


Thank you to Joy for taking these priceless pictures of our homecoming with Zac and to Greg for taking videos! I am so thankful to have this moment captured to look back on.

We had this as well as some awesome decorations the kids made to welcome us home! Our parents are THE BEST. They kept the kids while we were gone, did laundry, went above and beyond to make this trip and transition as easy as possible. THANK YOU!!!!!

They also gave us the best gift ever - sleep! They took the 4 older kids to the hotel for the night so they could swim and Justin and I could sleep! Zachary, Justin and I slept 14 hours! I would definitely recommend this plan to anyone adopting in the future! (Of course, you have to have grandparents as wonderful as ours!!)

Justin and the little boys...Asher keeps saying,"Hey buddy!" to Zac - so cute.

Zac really took to grandpa and kept reaching for him to hold him! Lainey got Zac to eat some oatmeal and we were so excited until he threw it all up on grandpa! He's not sick, just didn't sit right with him.

His happy place =) So much for the "light hair" theory (right, grandpa?)

Joah wanted to take a picture of everyone - he did a good job!

sweetest face ever!

All 7 of us sat down to have dinner together tonight and Zac began to warm up to the kids. They are so thrilled to have their little brother home. Our kids are so kind and sweet and they are (trying) to give him some space - it's hard when you've been waiting so long for your baby brother to come home! At one point Asher said, "Daddy, can you put him down for a nap so we can wrestle!" It will be hard to share daddy so much but I have enjoyed being able to take care of the other kids while Justin totes his little sidekick around. Justin is so in love with this boy. I can see it in his eyes. He is truly an amazing husband and father. I COULD NOT do it without him. I see Jesus in my husband and that is the best gift any dad can ever give his family.

Trying to get back to a little bit of "normal".

Joah trying to love on his brother - Zac isn't too excited yet, but it will come and the kids seem to understand that for now.

I can't even comment on this beautiful

Everyone wanted to snuggle and watch "Rio" - it was another precious moment for sure. (Thanks Aunt Sandi for the cute jammies!!)

Now everyone is in bed. (Justin has been laying on the bed next to Zac's bed so he's always in sight.) I wanted to blog and do my best to remember God's faithfulness - to write it down so I never forget. And also to make sure you all know that you were a part of this. It truly took a village to bring our baby home. From Todd notarizing all our documents to Emily babysitting so I could pack. If I started, the thank you's would never end. And here's another miracle you were a part of...our adoption of this precious baby boy is FULLY FUNDED thanks to our village of family, friends, and the people from Katelyn's Fund, Lifesong for Orphans, Show Hope, and the Isabel Fund who gave us grants. Thank you will never be enough...never.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Last day in Taiwan

It's our last day here! I can hardly believe this week. This has been the most incredible experience. I never thought I would love Taiwan so much. The people we have met are helpful and kind and we have felt very safe here and have had very few problems getting around and communicating with people. Zachary slept great again last night (he loves to sleep!) but woke up very sad this morning. He cried quite a bit and it is a very sad, heartbreaking cry. He let me take him down to the lobby while Justin got ready and he was very happy when we stood by the window and watched everything going on outside.

Justin got Zac to eat some yogurt! We all celebrated that he ate something again! He did have some fun with his Cheerios at dinner last night. He wanted to eat them with a fork so he put the Cheerio on the prong of the fork and ate it that way. He is a fun little boy and very smart. The waitress told us he said "thank you" to her in Mandarin when she wiped up a spill at our table. She was very impressed that he thanked her (and we were too!)

You can see how much we adore him =)

Beautiful cherry blossom trees!

We headed to the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Absolutely stunning!

He's letting me hold him a little bit more. He even reached for me one time!

Daddy was awesome and hung out with Zachary while I shopped at the Handicraft Promotion Center for little gifts to take home. I had fun!! Justin said they did too and Zachary finally let Justin put him down so he got to run around a little bit!

Zac is now napping (he is a great napper - it's given me lots of time to blog!) and then we will head to Taipei 101. Then we pack and head home tomorrow! It is a 24 hour journey home so please continue to pray for us. Please know we could never express how thankful we are for your prayers and support!!!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happiness at Subway

This morning was our AIT appointment to get Zac's visa so when we got back he was so tired. He slept great but spent most of the morning crying so he was wiped and took a great nap. AIT went great - we were in and out in about an hour! On the way over it started to rain pretty hard and even though our hotel is only a few blocks away, we still got a little lost. Just when we were going the wrong way and praying for some help, here came this American man on a bike with a big colorful umbrella. He stopped and asked if we needed help and guess where he worked - yep, at AIT. He pointed us in the right direction and gave us his umbrella saying "Tell the guard to return this to Bob." Thanks Bob, you were an answer to prayer! I got a little emotional at AIT - it felt so "official" and this was the part that I was nervous about but they said all our paperwork was in good order!! Another cool thing is that I popped in a cd they gave us at St. Lucy's and it had almost 500 pictures of him on it from when he came to them on Nov. 3, 2009 to the day we picked him up! I cannot believe this amazing gift. There are 3 precious pictures of Zachary and his sister together. I can definitely see why they did a DNA test to find out if they were siblings - they look so much alike!

He wanted to do nothing but lay on our bed and would cry when we tried to move him. He would let Grace and Justin come close but still not me so I just stayed a few feet away but kept smiling at him (which made him cry every time!) Grace and I even danced a little - pretty sure he thinks we are weird! =) I was starting to get a little concerned that he wouldn't eat or drink anything. He had only one bottle since we picked him up and we tried to encourage him to drink and he would just look away. Grace and I did have a good laugh when he pulled his big blanket over his head and then drank some of his bottle underneath it so we "couldn't see". He is a stinker, I can tell - and he will fit right in with his stinker brother Asher! I'm gonna be in for it!

You might recognize this blankie! Joah has been attached to his blankie since birth and he had an extra one and wanted me to bring it for Zac. Zac LOVES it and keeps it with him always. Thank you Joah - you are such a great big brother!!!! And thank you to Matt, Andrew, and Julia for the very cool shirt he wore to his AIT appointment today!!

We decided to pick him up and head out rather than let him stay in bed all day (he was awake) so we went to Grace's favorite, Subway. He cried when we ordered and pulled his hat over his eyes when we tried to look at him (I have to say I love that). BUT...we sat down and started eating and Grace put some of her cookie and a few cheetos in front of him and all of the sudden he picked up some cookie and ate it!!!! We were so thrilled!!!

Cookie crumbs on his little lips! (This is where I must point out that he is ADORABLE!!!!)

And we made a nice big scene when he took a drink of his water too! Subway is the best!!

He loved playing with the straws! Cannot tell you how it felt to see him perk up and have some fun!

Totally different boy from this morning - he was being so silly. I can't wait to see more and more of his personality come out.

We walked over to a very nice park and he took Grace's hand to walk a little but then wanted Justin to hold him again. Sara - the baby carrier has been a lifesaver! Thank you!!

Got some giggles swinging!

And then guess what happened...he let me hold him!!!!!! Oh, it was so wonderful. He laid on my shoulder because he was getting tired again. I loved every moment. The mommy "bounce and rock" kicked in and I soaked in all 30 pounds of him, singing little songs in his ear. He still pulled his hat over his eyes when I tried to look at him but I am NOT complaining. So so thankful we are making progress. I can't believe this little face I have been looking at since April is now right here with us. It is no doubt a miracle orchestrated by a loving , good Father who binds up the brokenhearted and sets the lonely in families.