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China bound

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We fly out at 8am tomorrow morning! We should arrive in Beijing around 2:30pm on Saturday July 1. 

Taylor and I will spend some days touring, adjusting to the time change and celebrating our 10 year anniversary before we meet up with the rest of the families on July 5. 

We will officially meet and unite with our little Stevie on Wednesday July 6! Cannot believe it! 

Tentative schedule:

June 30 – fly to Beijing, China

July 1-4 – Sleep, tour, celebrate anniversary 

July 5 – meet up with other families adopting with our agency 

July 6 7:30am – meet Stevie 

July 6 – 12 – bond with our little man in Beijing 

July 13 – travel to Guangzhou with Stevie and other families 

July 13 – 19 – appointments in Guangzhou (from now on we will refer to it as G’zhou) 

July 19 – fly home to ATL 

July 20 – arrive home in ATL 
   We are nervous, excited, ready, overwhelmed, scattered, and at peace all at once. We are doing our best to let go of as many expectations as we can before this all begins. Each story is different and unique yet shares the common ground of both joy and challenge. There is room for both to coexist. Both/And. We can’t believe we are finally at the point to begin telling this part of our family’s story. 

A few thoughts we think worth sharing…

   We (and a lot of you) have been praying and preparing and anticipating for a long time to meet and be united forever with Stevie. He, on the other hand, has not. He may have been told he’s being adopted, but, he’s only 20 months old, and has no concrete concept of what is about to happen. We are strangers to him. And he will be leaving the only caregivers he has ever known. In words to help describe what it may feel like for him, he’s about to feel kidnapped. He’s about to experience trauma and fear and grief. We know we are his parents and we will love him forever. But he doesn’t yet. So, we are doing our best to keep that in mind during the moment we meet him and the days and weeks and even months that follow. We are choosing to trust that what is about to happen is no surprise to God, that He knows exactly what Stevie will be feeling and how he will respond. In believing that, if we can stay in tune with Him, who is completely and perfectly in tune with Stevie, then we (all 3 of us) will not walk alone through the hard parts of the beautiful story of adopting our son. 

   We have invited you in to be a part of our team. You have been and are continuing to be the hands and feet of Jesus to us and to our little man. Thank you. In regards to the details of what we share while we are there, we are praying for wisdom to know what to share (and what not to share) and the courage to do it. 

Please keep praying! 

Pray for our eyes to be fixed on Jesus. 

Pray for our girls while we are away for 3 weeks. 

Pray for our parents (and all the others interspersed) who are taking care of our girls while we are away. 

Pray for God to continue to be near to little Stevie’s heart and mind as He prepares him for what is about to happen. 

Pray for little Stevie’s health and that we would have no hiccups with it during travel. 

Pray for bonding and attachment to begin  (and for contentment with whatever pace that moves). 

Pray against satan. There is a war going on. We claim the victory is in Jesus’s hands, and that’s where we believe we rest. Let it be so! 

Home stretch

   Today is our last full day in China! We picked up Stevie’s Visa this morning! When we land on US soil tomorrow night he will officially be a US citizen! 

   We are so thankful for how smooth all of the appointments and legal to do’s have gone. Thank you for praying us through and praying us home! 

   We have tried to soak in this one on one time with Stevie knowing that since we are still here, we are exactly where we are supposed to be. This time has been invaluable and we will forever be grateful for it.

   We are also missing our girls so much! We cannot wait to have them in our arms and to all be together as a family! HUGE thanks to both our parents who have cared for Daye and Fin during this long trip and to ALL the others extending extra love and grace to them. We are humbled to have been able to leave them confidently knowing they would be so well loved. 

   I am still fumbling for words to express this next set of thoughts. Jesus write your words and deliver them in your way…

   As we have walked these last five years to adopt our son we have experienced the love of Jesus in his adoption for us in such rich ways. Here are some of the pivotal moments that led us to where we are now:

When we first went to Liberia, Africa in 2009 my dad prayed, “On this trip I pray that what breaks Gods heart will break yours too.” Our hearts were broken for the people of Africa and for the world they were living in torn apart by war. Our eyes were opened to those outside our own little world. 

When my sister placed the book Adopted For Life in my hands. God gently and powerfully peeled away a film off my eyes to grasp my own adoption as His daughter. To grasp that Jesus, too, had been adopted by Joseph. To grasp that adoption is, in a sense, the Gospel! 

When God continued to lay the idea of adoption on my heart when he hadn’t necessarily yet laid it on Taylor’s. To walk me through heeding to His voice while still respecting my husband’s. To walk me through letting go and trusting Him. To see how He was in control of aligning our hearts in His own timing.

When Taylor was driving in his car one day and he heard God say, “Did I delay in adopting you?” And then watching Taylor respond in obedience to lead our family in this adoption. There have been so many times over the last five years where I have been paralyzed by fear of the what ifs and the unknowns that come with adoption and it has been monumental to have Taylor be so confident in God’s call for us to continue on. 

When battling a season of fear and first hearing the song, Oceans by Hillsong. “You call me out upon the waters. The great unknown where feet may fail…” I remember exactly where I was standing and who was next to me. God was gently and firmly affirming His call to continue following Him in adopting. 

When I was in another season of fear a friend reminded me of the truth sung in the song, Oceans, “You’ve never failed and you won’t start now!” We have clung to this truth countless times. 

When I was begging God for affirmation that we were still supposed to move forward after Finley was born. And I saw another adoptive mom at the park. And just seeing her from afar and then being given to courage to meet her that day was such a tangible expression of God saying, “I hear you. I see you. I will walk with you every step.”

When I was given permission to back out and to call it quits. When the fear was so great and the hard was overwhelming and God gave me permission to not adopt. He gave me affirmation that His love for me has nothing to do with me and what I do or do not do. He loves me because He loves me. Period. He was simply inviting me into something, but He gave me permission to say no. And still His love for me and acceptance of me would not change. He gave me the image of me being in the pool. Finley is on the side so scared to jump in. I tell her, “The water feels great! And I am right here! I promise I will catch you! And it is so much fun in the water! I want you to experience it!” She still decides not to jump. My love for her has nothing to do with whether or not she jumped in. It was simply that I knew what was in store for her if she did. I wanted something for her. Not from her. And so it is with God. 

When I was knee deep in grief over our son we had lost in 2015 and the door closes for our adoption from Uganda. My heart ached, “God why are you closing so many doors?” He swiftly redirected us to the China program, one we had never before considered. 

When we asked for help fundraising and He delivered through countless generous hearts. One of the most humbling experiences we have ever had. In this He affirmed to us “I’ve already made the way, keep hold of my hand, I’ll be with you as I bring your family together!” 

When we met Stevie for the first time and God calmed our anxious hearts. 

When we introduced Stevie to a million new things for the first time, and He put laughter in Stevie’s heart. 

When Stevie attached to Taylor. Stevie had probably never before spent time around an adult male figure. And God spoke powerfully, “A father! I’ve given Stevie a father! And I chose Taylor! Stevie will know the love of His Heavenly Father because he will know the love of his father, Taylor!” 

There are so many more intimate details where the presence of Jesus and the power of adoption have overwhelmed us. We are humbled to have experienced what He had in store this far. And we wait with anticipation for what He has in store as we make it home and are a family of five. We know there is more hard to come. We know there is much transition and grief and newness through which we will walk. We ask for your prayers that we would be able to say confidently when those times come, “God, you’ve never failed, and you won’t start now!” 

Please pray for our flights home and that we won’t have any hiccups medical/health wise. 

Please pray for Daye and Finley. 

Please pray for continued bonding and for the bonding to come with his sisters too. 
“I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms— I’m celebrating your rescue. I’m singing at the top of my lungs, I’m so full of answered prayers.”    ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭13:5-6‬ ‭MSG‬‬
Jesus, thank you. Thank you for coming to us and making a way for us to be with you, to be your children. Thank you for making a way for us to come to Stevie,  for him to be with us, to be our son. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. 
Our first night in G’zhou

Waiting for his Visa Medical appointment 

Being brave 
Looking at pictures his sisters sent him 
Outing to Shamian Island

Carrying our purchases but just looks like a bag of trash, ha! 
Ready to go swimming! 
A stick! I found a stick! 
Not tired! Ha! 
Waiting for our US Consulate appointment 

Looking like a stud 
Thankfully he loves French fries as much as we do! 
He loves playing in the room. We walk back in and he gets right to work! 
At the zoo yesterday 
Such a ham! 
We are blurry but have everything we need to come home now! Wahoo!

Can’t wait to be waving Ne Hao to Daye and Finley tomorrow night!!!!

Getting to know each other

     It has been fun to see Stevie “wake up” and show some of his personality. He is gregarious and willing to interact. He is eager to greet and just as eager to offer a farewell with his signature wave. He likes to mimic, so we seized this with teaching him how to give us kisses. He is a sleeper, often times shooing us away (from standing over his crib trying to soothe him to sleep) indicating he’d rather just fall asleep on his own without the audience! He is curious and loves to be free; in the airport yesterday he easily covered a mile exploring every gate and moving walkway he could. He will eat anything we put in front of him except prunes, fig newtons and eggplant. He prefers to drink water from the bottle instead of a sippy cup so that he can walk around sopping wet-  it’s hot here, we don’t blame him! He is very expressive about what he does not like and has toddler tantrum throwing down to a tee! 

     He has really attached to his Daddy. Who wouldn’t?! I don’t know a child who doesn’t fall immediately in love with Taylor. What a true gift that he is so great with kids! Being vulnerable here for a minute, as grateful as I am that he has attached to his Daddy, I am also struggling with it too. My selfish pride and mama’s heart has taken it personally (even though I know I shouldn’t) that right now Stevie prefers Taylor over me. I’m so thankful for the insight of other adoptive mamas to know it is normal for a child to really attach to the dad at the beginning. 

    We spent the last few days in Beijing. Some free days and some filled with adoption appointments. We arrived in Guangzhou last night. We will be here until we fly home one week from today! 

     We love our little man and are so proud of him! Thank you for continuing to cover us in prayer!!! 

“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind, Stevie, that God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish the very day Christ Jesus appears.” Philippians 1:6
Here is a picture recap:  


He rode the subway for the first time. And loved it!

We went to Olympic Village. 

We had a long day of appointments, thankful this little guy finally fell asleep in the car. 

We have enjoyed some great local Chinese spots. Stevie is always happy when meal time rolls around! 

Saying goodbye to Mina at the Beijing airport yesterday! Sooo grateful for her! I tried to take a picture of us on the plane to document Stevie’s first flight, but I was informed by a team of flight attendants who swarmed over my shoulder that phones must remain off the entire flight in China. Oops. 

So glad to be off the plane and eating supper at our new hotel in G’zhou last night. 

We went to White Cloud Hill this morning with another Bethany family. It’s been so nice to be around other families who are walking this same road. 

Until next time! Zaijian!

Building trust

We are on day 3 with our little man. And we are encouraged. We are celebrating little victories as they come, recognizing even the challenges are gifts. Gifts of building trust and of getting to know each other. Gifts of learning to communicate. We are taking baby steps (or in Stevie’s case wobbly toddler steps) towards figuring this out together. 

Our hearts have continued to be overwhelmed with gratitude. Gratitude that God would choose us to be his parents. Gratitude for the steady prayers of all of you. Gratitude for the privilege of experiencing the love of our Father in a new way. As we long to impress upon Stevie’s heart our unconditional love for him, we ponder, how much more does the Lord long to impress his unconditional love upon our hearts? As we long to affirm to Stevie that we are here to stay and we don’t plan on going anywhere, we ponder, how much more does the Lord long to affirm his unfailing presence with us? 

Oh, Lord, that Stevie would trust us and know that he is ours! And oh, Lord, even more, that we would trust you and know that we are yours! 

We are humbled that you are continuing to pray on our behalf, please don’t stop! 

Now, for what I’m sure most have clicked on this blog for, pictures! 

Trucks and balls and trucks and balls
 

We took him to the pool and he was not interested at all. We would put his feet in and he would promptly take them out. Over and over. Then, two boys came and jumped in. He literally almost dove in after them! And then thought it was so fun! Hoping this means he will love following his sisters into all the fun things life has to offer!

There is a garden park a few blocks from the hotel. He took along his truck. And found leaves on the ground quite fascinating too. 

He had his first bath! And puffs are his new favorite. 

We went to Walmart yesterday. Big boy sitting in the cart! 

We were ready for a taste of home so we opted for Subway for lunch. This boy LOVES food! 

Little sleeper. Continually so thankful for good sleep. 

Our son…

What a day it was yesterday. I feel like I’m usually a person who processes through writing. But each time I try to write a blog post I can’t seem to find the words. So, for now, I’ll let the pictures share our Gotcha Day of Stevie Teng Stanfill on July 6, 2017 at 8am. 

Our angel, Mina, who took guided us through the day. 
The front entrance of his orphanage. We were quite impressed with it. And thankful too. 
Signing papers and doing fingerprints inside the room where we would meet him. 
All of the sudden he was brought in! We weren’t prepared for how quickly he would arrive so this was the first picture we took. He is with another angel, one of his beloved  caretakers, Liu. He is holding one of his favorite toys. 
Our first move towards him.
We were told having a bag of goodies was helpful…the toy trucks were a hit. 


Our first picture holding our son. Little buddy is so nervous. 



The director is adoptions for his orphanage is on the left. His caretaker, Liu on the right. 


It is suddenly time for us to leave. Stevie is understandably upset and confused and unsure of what is happening. 


The director takes our picture in the main lobby of orphanage. 

We drive to get his passport photo taken. A scary ride for him. Mina says this is probably his first time out of the orphanage. 

Still holding tight to his favorite toy and new favorite truck. Finding comfort in Daddy’s arms as we wait for passport photo. 
Next we ride to Civil Affairs office. No car seats or seat belts in China! He finally falls asleep on the long drive. 
Amazingly slept through almost the entire appointment. 
Back in the car to head to the supermarket to buy some necessities. 
 

We make it back to the hotel. We play with trucks. Obviously. 
And learn that he likes bread. And when Daddy drops things on the ground. We are bursting at the seems over this gift of a smile and a laugh. One of the greatest gifts to be given that we don’t take for granted. 
With some rocking and swaying and humming and rubbing of his arms he finally falls asleep. They recommend leaving them in the clothes he is wearing for the first day or so. Just one source of comfort. We found out they bought these clothes for him to wear on the day he would meet his family, us! A bright yellow shirt with “BOY” written on it with a mustache. We got more than a few chuckles from what was written on the back…


Buenos Dias, Stevie! And Ni Hao and Bonjour and Hello! Hahahahaha! 
He first showed us his love for waving yesterday and it melted us and continues to every time!  He raises his arm straight in the air and flops his hand over back and forth. Here he is mid wave. 

Just took this. His first time in a polo and nikes. What a little man. Little Stevie we love you. So much. And are beyond thankful to get to be your Mama and Daddy. Forever. 
“God, you met us more than half way, you freed us from our anxious fears.” 

Psalm 34:4 MSG

It’s almost go time

In just under 12 hours we will meet our little Stevie. We both have been fumbling for words to describe the anticipation we’ve been experiencing. How many times have we tried to play out in our minds what this moment will be like? Thankfully we’ve been sitting at the feet of many who have gone before us and soaking in their experiences. The possibilities of tomorrow’s meeting (and the days to follow) are truly endless…we are so thankful the time is finally here. And honestly freaking out a little too! 

We will meet him at 7:30am July 6 China time. (We are 12 hours ahead of EST.)

Please keep praying! 

Pray for Stevie’s heart as he spends his last day with his caregivers. 

Pray for his caregivers as they spend their last day with Stevie. 

Pray for our expectations to diminish more and more. 

Pray for us to rest in the presence of Jesus. And as Stevie senses our rest that he too will follow suit. 

“I pray that you, Stevie, being rooted and established in love, may have power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you, Stevie, may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God!”  Ephesians 3:17-19

Next time we post we will have a picture with our boy! 

(Our phones only work when we are at the hotel. We are unsure of what time we will return to the hotel tomorrow – they project afternoon – but we will update as soon as we are able.)

Some thoughts from dad

This is Taylor. Sal will send a more thorough and well crafted update tomorrow. We checked out while enjoying some time together the last few days. It’s been amazing. Here is a pic from our epic hike on the Great Wall today! 
We’ve been able to enjoy our time together while clearly not forgetting why we are here. We’ve been able to be present which has been a gift. 

I wanted to share a few thoughts I’ve / we’ve been having. I don’t know how to say it other than that our hearts have been so tender as we pray and contemplate what’s about to happen. At different moments throughout the day one of us will tear up picturing the moment we meet lil Stevie. I sense Jesus has been preparing / softening our hearts to love and care for our son patiently and unconditionally. We talked tonight at dinner about his first smile at us. We don’t know when that will be but I’m ready! 

Finally, I’ve been picturing the moment we meet Stevie and asking Jesus to flood the room and Stevie’s heart with light and love. I’ve been asking Jesus to love Stevie through us and that Stevie would sense how much Jesus loves him through us. This may not come in a tangible way. We may not see it but it’ll be there because Jesus, Stevie’s perfect father, will be there! Amazing picture. Please pray for this specifically! 

Thank you for praying and supporting us!