Friday, December 7, 2012

Letters to friends...

Dear Graci:

Thank you so much for being you. For going through what you’ve gone through and coming through strong and resilient and magnificent.  Thank you for sharing your amazing and wonderful and beautiful and generous and incredibly loving foster family.  Your “China Family” as we call them.  Someday I look forward to the beautiful reunion in heaven with your adoptive family, your China family and your biological family.  I have never been more aware or had a stronger testimony of the fact that we are all children of our Heavenly Father.  That we are all brothers and sisters.  That we are all loved by Him.  That He finds tremendous joy when we share that love with each other here on earth.  Graci, thank you for guiding us to find your foster family in 2007 when we came to adopt you.  Without that fortuitous taxi ride, we would have missed out on what has truly become a second family to us.  Our China Family.  We love them.  We love you.  Thank you!


Dear Dad:

We miss you!  It was so great to have you here in China last time.  Of course you were a help with kids and luggage and logistics, but those are just little things.  Mostly, we just miss YOU.  You have been a great mentor, companion and friend.  We have thought of you often over the last two days and will continue to do so as we go through this trip.


Dear Aus:

Thanks for being such a great family friend!  There was no question in my mind when I called you from half way around the world what your response would be.  “Of course I’ll post any blogs or pictures you email me.  As soon as I get them!  No trouble at all!”  Aus, in one way, you hardly know us.  You spent less than one full week with us in 2007.  And yet I truly feel like you are a brother to me.  Your endless supply of kindness and generosity is unparalleled.  Thank you for the assurance that I will always get at least one comment on my blog postsJ.  Thank you for understanding me, for being someone I can call and unload on when I have become overwhelmed with our journey.  We don’t talk very often, but when we do it is powerful.  Truly we are all brothers and sisters, children of God.


Dear Sara:

It was truly a blessing from Heaven when you were assigned to be our tour guide on our trip to adopt Graci.  Who else would have jumped so quickly at the request to help interpret for us on our second (and third and fourth) trip to Hangzhou?  Who else would have been so loving towards and so loved by Graci’s China family?  You, too, are now a part of this crazy, wonderful, multi-cultural family.  You keep in frequent contact with China family.  You were there at the hospital the day that Ling Long, Graci’s China neice, was born.  You send gentle reminder emails if Graci has gone too long in between phone calls to China Mama.  And you drop everything every time we come to China and spend 48 hours being our friend and interpreter as we experience once again the incredible love and warmth from this incredible family.


Dear Jesi:

Thanks for a being the cutest traveling companion ever.  Your sweet, innocent outlook on life is refreshing and delightful.  You have gotten better with each trip to China at accepting the fact that you are a rock star here.  From the stares to the stroking of your hair to the school girls touching your hand and feigning a swoon, you have learned to enjoy the attention.  China Mama loves you very much.  The whole China family does.  They are so excited every time you come.  Your blonde hair is certainly part of that, but even more it is just you.  You are a very special girl and a person that people love to be around.


Dear China Mama and Baba:

Words cannot express how grateful we are for the relationship you have with our beautiful daughter.  Thank you for the grace you have shown as you have fostered several children over the years.  Thank you for loving all of them and for giving them a beautiful, if temporary, home when they needed it most.  Thank you for loving Graci so very, very much.  She was far more prepared to be a part of a family because of your efforts.  And thank you for your love and acceptance of us.  Your expressions of gratitude for the part we have played in Graci’s life are treasured and appreciated.  Thank you for the food.  The seemingly endless supply of food you shower upon us when we are here.  This is one way that you show your love for us.  And we feel it.  From the moment you embraced Christi as she emerged from the car the first night we arrived in Hangzhou to the inevitable tears you will shed when you say goodbye to your Graci tonight at the airport.  You are some of the best people I have ever known.  We love you.  Thank you for sharing your beautiful extended family with us as well.  From meals at auntie’s house to hugs and kisses from Grandma.  From warm smiles from Grandpa and embraces as looks at us with sightless eyes to the bouncing exuberance of Bei Bei, Graci’s childhood friend.  This great group of people never ceases to amaze me.

 This trip we brought two extra people along to document a part of our adoption journey.  You have embraced and welcomed them as well.  When we talked about getting a taxi for them and their luggage on day two of our Hangzhou trip, you said no, you would take care of it.  And take care of it you did.  Showed up in a full-blown tour bus with a driver!  When I said to Sara: “This is so expensive.  They shouldn’t have!,”  Sara explained that friends are very important in China.  Each friend is like a new path.  And what a path we continue to walk with you.  We love you!

 Your America Family

Dear Dave and Mike:

Thank you for documenting this experience for us!  Thank you for sharing your expertise and time and energy with us and our China Family.  Though you may slow things down just a titch at times ;), we truly appreciate your being here and sharing this with us and hopefully with many others in the future. 


Dear Kathi:

Thanks for letting Dave come and holding down the fort at home.  I truly believe that at some point this documentary will have an impact on someone somewhere (and hopefully a few someones) and will instill in them a desire and determination to adopt a beautiful child into their own family.

Jer and Christi

Dear Dean and LaRita:

We could not do it without you.  We could not make the trip.  We could not give the kids what they need.  We could not have become the people we have become without the loving home you provided for Christi in her childhood.  You have been more than generous with your time and resources as you have helped us create our unique and blessed family.

A very lucky son-in-law

Dear Mom:

Thank you for the unconditional love and support you show to  all of our children.  Thank you for tea parties and cheesy children’s gifts.  For hours spent on the phone with children you could barely understand but who love you so much.  Thank you for being an example of loving and serving those around you.  Without the principles you taught me, I could not have opened my heart to such a large family and would have missed out on so much.


Your first born

Dear Taylor, Parker, Lexi, Xander, Elli and Sophi:

Thanks for letting us come to China!  Thanks for being willing to be separated from you parents for two long weeks so that we can bring Cali home.  I am sure the pain is somewhat mitigated by the trips to the swimming pool and the gym, the ice cream at Gilly’s and the general overall spoiling that goes along with two weeks with Grandma!  We love you.  We miss you.  Looking forward to Arby’s on Christmas EveJ.

 Mom and Dad

Dear Christi:

I really can’t express in words what you have done for me.  You took a course, unrefined boorish fellow, knocked some of the rough edges off and have been willing to stick with me in spite of my continued weaknesses.  You have often taken the lead down this road of ours and helped us forge a path to breathtaking vistas.  There is no one who could have been a greater influence for good in my life than you.  There is no one I would rather share my life with than you.  There is no one who could be a better mom to my children than you are.  Through the science projects, doctors appointments, swimming lessons, dance classes and basketball games, you maintain patience and perspective and provide our family with stability and love.  Our children feel safe in our home.  Because of you they have developed self-confidence without pride.  They are well-adjusted and look out for the needs of others.  As your mother told me the first time I met her, you are almost perfect. And you are even closer to perfection now than when I met you.  I love you!

 Your Chubby Hubby

 Dear God:

 First of all, please bless us to survive the drive we are on today.  It is one of the most  beautiful roads I have ever been on, but as we ascend this steep and winding canyon, as we traverse some questionably safe road construction, we truly need your guiding hand to keep us safe.

Second, and most important, thank You!!!  I am sure You can feel how overwhelmed with joy and love I am this day.  My life is not what I would have envisioned 10 years ago.  In fact, if You had laid it out before me at that time, I am sure I would have balked.  But You in your wisdom have given it to me bit by bit, piece by piece.  You have broken me down to build me up.  You have allowed me to go through deep despair and through this I have gained the capacity to experience more fulfilling highs that I would have ever thought possible.  I woke up this morning, half way around the world from my home, and told my sweet Christi that I could not imagine a better life for me.  I am truly happy.  Thank You for that!

Your grateful child