I have been very blessed by so many things in the last few weeks. One is that we got to share our story at a local church this past Sunday. It was so much fun! And before I left the Philippines I was asked if I would be interested in writing an article for the publication put out by the ministry that we are involved with in Manila. This is also the children’s home that Vanessa has lived at since she was 10. Tonight it came out. Again, what a huge blessing for our story to be shared with so many.
Everything here is going so well I feel like I need to pinch myself!!! Our social worker is coming for her first post-placement visit tomorrow and I have barely even cleaned the house…such a switch from the last time she came! Homeschooling is going very well, although I feel completely inadequate in every possible way, except with the reading 🙂
Here is the link to the article from the Kid’s Kronicle.
I just have to say that I could never have imagined things going as well as they have. I expected them to go good…but “great” is a blessing I never would have let myself consider! I had so many things I was trying to control and that I worried about…food, sleep, jetlag, shyness, culture shock…well, again I am reminded that God is in control. She has eaten EVERYTHING I have made, slept like a champ (better than Chad and I), met a million people with a smile, and has taken everything in stride. Don’t hear me say we are settled….we have a long way to go, and I am sure she will experience culture shock at some point, and we have had a few bouts of homesickness that have been short-lived, but AT THIS POINT I am amazed! She even sat on the porch the other night and told Lizzie, two neighbors, and I all the stories of her adoption from her end. How I have waited to hear it all from her point of view. All about how she and the other girls talked and made plans…when she first knew it was us….so precious. So many times I have dreamed of knowing how she was feeling, and here she was, telling it all.
We have a crazy week this week, with sports practices kicking off, Thomas gets braces tomorrow, Vanessa goes back to the dentist on Friday, school starts on Thursday for the other three and she and I begin homeschooling…YIKES. Chad and I are also speaking at a nearby church on Sunday. We are looking forward to it, as their theme for the month is “Adopted by God”. We can’t wait to see how God is going to use our story to bring others closer to Him and maybe even to touch someone else’s heart about adoption.
In other news, we heard on Friday that we had to submit her “official” name for her birth certificate by today…so we ended up talking to her about it long before I thought we would have to. I thought we had 6 months 🙂 ANYWAY…she had been thinking about the SAME NAME we had!!!! So, even though it will not be FINAL or LEGAL for 6 months, her new name is…… Vanessa Hope Baluyot Martin. I think she is relieved she has a monogram now…we are big on monogramming in our house 🙂 Hers will be VHM…I am thrilled beyond words. We also all agreed that it is so cool that she and Lizzie’s middle names are Hope and Grace. What a testimony to who we desire to be as a family and as individuals.
What a blessed four letter word! I am so happy to be home! It is so hard to believe we are all really here and that right now Vanessa is sleeping next to Lizzie in her own room. Everything is going great! I am so proud of all four of my kids. We had hoped for a little time to relax, but with school starting next Thursday that was impossible.
Vanessa has jumped right in! We have shopped for her a little but also bought school supplies, went to the orthodontist and open house at the middle school. She is going to stay home with me for the first part of the school year, but the school is going to test her and make a placement based on that. I am eager to see where she stands but am going to give her a few weeks before jumping in. I am not opposed to homeschooling for a year or so, but also want to give her every opportunity to make her own friends, etc. I am so afraid she will be bored at home with me…at the same time I am looking forward to mothering her here by myself and still having time to give the kids when they get home from school in the afternoons. Please pray for us about that…I am so unsure and need clear guidance from the Lord!
I am awake from jetlag right now at 3:41, so I should really go try to sleep a little longer. THANK YOU for all your prayers…God answered them all! He is so awesome…we stand amazed. Here is an “amazing” photo I took the other evening, of all my kids playing basketball in the driveway. Also, here are a couple of pictures from our homecoming….there was quite a crowd of friends and family waiting, crying, and cheering. It was a great moment…we only get a few in life that really take our breath away and this is one of them for me!
And…unless you are not crying already…my friend Katrina wrote a blog post about our story that is about the most precious thing I have ever read! I am blessed and humbled to have friends who see me this way. She is a treasure!
Today was our last morning at the YMC…we left the children’s home, said our good byes and drove away. It was emotional to say the least, but so much easier than I imagined. I think it was harder for me in a way than it was for Vanessa. She is so excited. After visiting the ICAB and collecting our girl’s passport and visa we came to the Marriott…it is awesome!!! Vanessa got a pedicure at the salon and I got a manicure. Now we are hanging out watching “Father of the Bride”, my all- time favorite movie! Vanessa keeps saying, “this is funny!”. She is so sweet and loves everything so much, especially the elevators. She is freezing in the a/c so I am glad I brought a hoodie for her. We leave for the airport at 3:30 am. Yippee!!! We can’t wait to be on US soil again, but truly are leaving a part of our hearts in this special land where our daughter spent her first 15 years. See you all soon!
It is Sunday morning here and we are preparing to go to church. Chad was asked by the sweet pastor here if he would “give a testimony” about what God has been doing in our lives. I am pretty sure I will cry through the whole thing. Vanessa has been asked to sing her favorite praise song. She is singing “To You”. I am pretty sure today will be our most emotional day as many good-byes will happen this morning. Monday morning we leave here with her for the last time and head off to the ICAB to get her travel documents and then to the hotel. We are looking forward to it all while feeling inadequate and overwhelmed all at the same time. The great news is….God is still in control and he has great plans for us. I trust Him.
Yesterday was a whirlwind. We were in the car from 11 am until 8:30 pm with dinner at the end. Glad to have all that done!!! Today, Saturday we are going to community feeding together and then to an Ateneo college basketball game. Looking forward to it all. Here are a few more photos. As I look through them I realize I am so busy being in the moment that I am not taking nearly enough photos to really convey our experience. The dessert we are eating is called hallo-hallo. Ice cream made from purple sweet potatoes, and then mixed with custard, field peas, jellies, fruits and a whole bunch of other stuff. It was interesting, but not really my favorite. It is Vanessa’s favorite, no doubt.
Ok. It is Friday morning here and we have a crazy busy day today. Yesterday was a little more laid back from the first. We went shopping at a very cool market/mall and bought a few things and had lunch at California Pizza Kitchen. It was fun to see her shyness fade a little, especially in the car as she told us all about what had gone on the night before at her youth group farewell party. These parties are often very emotional (we went to one with her classmates and it was gut wrenching) but her best friends worked HARD to make it fun and funny for her. They even told me they didn’t want it to be sad.
Then yesterday afternoon the girls went down and packed up what Vanessa is bringing home and figured out who she is giving it other things to. I went down and took them some Hershey bars and ended up staying forever laughing and joking with them and looking through the items that represent the last 6 years of her life. Precious with all the girls!
We are off today to the embassy where she has to go to a class for two and a half hours. It is about 3 hours there with traffic so that makes for a long day!!! Thank you all so much for your prayers and comments! We love seeing them. Blessings, Amy