Monday, March 18, 2013

Happy Lyla Day!

I bet you didn't know there was such a thing as Lyla Day, did you?  Well, there is, and it is an amazing day that everyone should get a chance to celebrate!

One year ago today a little girl walked through the door of our hotel room in Nanchang, Jiangxi and became as our flesh and blood.  Just like that, OURS FOREVER!  Celebrating an event as miraculous as that is something I wish everyone could experience!

I don't even know what to say about all that has gone on in our lives, and her life, in the past year; so much good, so much bad, lots of hard, lots of fun, some we'd like to forget, some that we pray we always remember!

Please re-read my post from one year ago if you have a minute.  It helps remind me of the awesomeness and graciousness of the God who brought Lyla into our family.  To think that we came from that, to where we are today is humbling, to say the least.

 MARCH 2012

MARCH 2013

Happy Lyla Day, big girl!  You rocked our world in ways that we could never have imagined, and we are so grateful for that day, one year ago, when your sweet, spunky, contagious smile lit up our lives!


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Final post

1 year ago today we saw her face.  One of so many, but there was something unique.  Maybe it was because I felt like I could hear her laughing through the photo, or maybe because I wanted so desperately to find the one God had called us to, I just kept hoping that she was the one.  1 year ago today YuFan had no idea that a family, half way around the world, began loving her.  1 year ago today we had no idea what we were really in for, good or bad.

1 month ago today she, YuFan, became Lyla Elizabeth McNeely.  1 month ago today in the eyes of the world, the law and everything else, she became our daughter, sister, cousin, niece, granddaughter and great-granddaughter.  1 month ago today regardless of blood, skin color or background, she became as our own flesh! 

This journey has produced many favorite songs, one of them being I Refuse, by Josh Wilson that I mentioned in a previous post.  Another was One Less, by Matthew West.  My mother-in-law introduced it to me and it was literally the song that was in my head when I woke up the morning after we said yes to adopting Lyla.  The last song, that I have listened to 1 million times during our wait, is This is Home by Switchfoot.  It's what I have been hoping, praying and waiting for for a year, that Lyla would finally be home.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

One month ago

One month ago today, an amazing little girl walked through a hotel room door in Nanchang, China and became ours...for real!

Loving a child, for nearly a year, through a photo was interesting.  When we first saw her I just melted into her photos, stared at them, wanting to learn everything I could about the photos and hung on every word written about her.  As our journey took a little longer than expected, and the updates on her stopped, I noticed that I carried her a little further from my heart.  Protecting me from pain, which is selfish, but something that was hard to control.

So as the end drew near, I wasn't sure just how I felt.  More excited or scared?  More happy or nervous?  Did I love her, or did I love the girl I thought she was...or who I made her out to be?  I knew that no matter what happened, we were in the right place, and in my weakness God would provide, the love, the comfort or the peace, so I rested in that.  I still wondered how this whole thing would pan out, and yes, wondered if God really knew what He was doing.

A lot of folks think we were nuts for adopting an older child, and even more nuts for adopting out of birth order and making a new oldest child. As you know, this was not our idea, we feel that God planned for us to do this. Since He is our Maker, couldn't it be possible that He actually created all of us for this purpose?  All 5 of us?

Lyla's heart, attitude, character and spirit are bigger, more positive, stronger and sweeter than mine will ever be.  I can tell all of that in the month that I have been her mom.  To say she is a blessing is a huge understatement, life is certainly better with her in it.  I know that's a lot to put on a 6 year old, but I know God has given her something special that not everyone has.  In her short little life there is no telling what she has seen, heard, felt and endured, yet every experience, since joining our family is met with a smile.

The verse I think about when I think of Lyla is Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
It seems so easy to say, but to really believe it takes my breath away. Through all her pain, struggles and loss, His plan for her has been to give hope and a future.  To think that we am lucky enough to be a part of that hope and future is humbling.  

Saturday, March 31, 2012


YAY!  We're home, and we're finally all together!  I imagined how good this would feel, but it was even better than that!

We got to our house at 2am Saturday, after 24 hours of traveling.  Lyla was awesome, slept 9 of the 10.5 hour international flight!  Praise the Lord!  On the other two flights she was easily entertained with the things we brought, so as far as our flights go, things were perfect.  There were a few snags along the way, caused a little extra stress, but it all worked out, so I have decided to put it out of my memory, the rest is just too good to let that ruin it!

Kevin and Auntie Meedo (Megan) met us at the airport, and Lyla was cautious, but we expected that.  We got home and she was happy and running around looking at things, especially excited about Angelica, the cat.  Our cat is almost 14 years old, so she wasn't real sure what to think of this new little person, but so far, no mishaps.

By about 3am we were all in bed and Lyla had a little pallet on the floor of our room, it was easier than trying to put her in her own room in the middle of the night.  Macey and Xander woke up pretty early, but my mom was so kind to keep them in the girls' room until I woke up around 7am.  When I woke, Lyla was already awake, and you know that smile you see in most the pics I post?  Well, she wakes up that way, so we got up and walked down the hall to meet her brother and sister for the first time in person.  They were excited to see me, and I, them, and they were happy that Lyla was actually here in person.  It wasn't long before they were all up playing.

It was 100 times better than Christmas morning, who gets to wake up to a new sister?  Macey and Xander did!!!

Eventually they ate breakfast, been waiting to fill that seat for a long time!

By the afternoon we were putting clips in each others hair, just like sisters!

I must confess, I had some preconceived ideas about what today, the day all my children were together for the first time, would be like.  I had dreams, big dreams that they would all meet each other, hug instantly, play nicely all day, laugh, love and just enjoy the day together.
...somebody pinch me please!!!

Would you believe that is EXACTLY what happened?!  I am not kidding, they were thrilled to meet each other, and truly enjoyed being around each other all day.  Xander woke up from his nap before Lyla and he just wanted to keep peeking at her while she slept, so sweet.  Macey and Xander were so understanding of Lyla's "unrefined" behaviors, which actually weren't too bad today.  She ran and played outside with Kevin, and helped him in the yard, which was a huge blessing, since she was a little resistant while he was in China.

I know that there is a "honeymoon" period when you adopt a child, where everything is rosie and happy, and I believe that is what we are in.  But I am so grateful that I have at least one day to remember as truly one of the happiest days of my life.  So, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go get some sleep so I can enjoy the rest of our honeymoon tomorrow!!!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Last day!!!

As I am very excited to be reunited with the rest of my family, and after 11 long months ALL of us will finally be in the same place, it is bittersweet. Lyla will be leaving her birth country, one she spent 6 years in, one where sights, sounds and the language are familiar. I have no idea what it would feel like to leave everything familiar, permanently. Many will say that she will be going to a better life, and if you mean because she is now a part of a family, when she once wasn't, then yes, I agree. But the loss she has suffered, and will suffer when we board that plane are immeasurable. Some tend to overlook that adoption is born out of loss.

I hope that someday if Lyla has questions, concerns or even fears of her former life in her birth country, that I am able to present the truth with compassion. There are a lot of things here in China that just don't jive with American thinking, but that doesn't necessarily make the Chinese wrong or bad. Sometimes it's ugly, but I think if we look deep we all have a little "ugliness" that we are trying to hide.

I had our guide come and translate for me as I told Lyla what was going to happen tomorrow. I told her we were taking all of our things and getting on an airplane for a looooong time, we would have to eat and sleep on the airplane! (she thought that was hilarious) Then when we were finally done Daddy would be waiting for us and then take us to her new home, where Macey and Xander are. She just giggled while she snuggled into me and kept looking at me, the guide translated back that she was very excited. I know God has been protecting her heart for her first 6 years, because it appears like it is smiling...and coming out on her face!

On a lighter note, let me tell you a few things about Lyla that are a bit, let's say, unrefined. I guess maybe this should serve as your warning ;) The girl can slurp noodles like nobody's business! If you share a meal with us it's likely that she will eat noodles, so be prepared. It's the way the Chinese do it, so I'm not going to apologize for it, and not even sure if I will ever ask her to change it. However, the intense smacking that follows will be corrected, in time. :) The Chinese have no personal space, and neither does Lyla. Apparently, her eyes don't work very well because she WILL touch everything. I don't believe that gentleness is something taught in an orphanage, in fact it's probably frowned upon because it might indicate weakness. So, although she means no harm, guard yourself...and your children. But have I mentioned how AMAZING she is?!

See y'all soon!!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Loooooong day

Well, the closer I get to home the longer the days seem. I did not plan today well, and the lack of things to do made it feel especially long. Tomorrow, we have absolutely no plans, feels like a big waste of time, but Lyla's visa won't get to us until 4:30pm. If I would have known better I would have done things differently and gotten us home earlier. Oh well, next time. ;)

We'll probably take a taxi to the island again. There is a great playground, a good place to eat and lots to look at. We spend most or our time by ourselves now, which is good, but sometimes hard.

We did have a great time tonight eating pizza and hanging out with the other families. We ordered Papa Johns pizza (which Lyla does not like) and ate it in the garden/play area on the 4th floor. Lyla ran and played with the other kids for an hour and a half! She loves playing with all the kids, no matter their age. She got a bath and she should sleep hard tonight!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Nearing the end

Well, tomorrow is the long awaited Consulate Appointment. This is finally the last step before coming home. Two days after the Consulate Appointment is when we get Lyla's visa, and then we are free to take her home! Home, it's such a nice word.

Until then I'll keep filling you in on a few things. There isn't a whole lot going on before we leave, just shopping, possibly hanging out in the park, not much left to do.

Last nights dinner cruise was so fun! Lyla loved being out on the deck and seeing all the lights on the buildings. Seriously, she squealed and oooo'd and awwww'd at everything, it was awesome. If she was that excited about neon lights on buildings, Disneyland is going to be incredible!!!

Today we shopped again, Lyla is getting better, so it is more enjoyable for everyone. My favorite part about today's shopping was a simple comment/recognition by Lyla. She was looking at some small toys, which is her favorite thing, anything worth 50 cents or less, and I liked her choice so I put 3 of them in my basket. And she looked at me and said "Mei mei, di di?". Which is little sister, little brother. It melted my heart because she already recognizes that three things, bought by mom means one for all of them. And this was the only time I bought 3 of something!

Today was a big breakthrough day. She chose to wear short sleeves (shes's been demanding 2 long sleeved shirts everyday) and only 1 pair of pants! At breakfast she ate scrambled eggs! She's only been eating noodles at every meal, I was so excited because I can make scrambled eggs.

Each day gets a little better for us. A few days ago she was being a toot, but I think she is learning that I am not going anywhere and neither are my rules. She's a bit whiny at times, but I've got one of those at home so I can deal with it, and her rowdiness can actually be settled with a calm, serious voice from mom. We're going to be ok!