January and February were filled with paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork. I had no idea there was this much paperwork involved in adopting?! Don't they know that there are children just sitting in these orphanages waiting to be loved by a forever family when I am sitting here in NWA answering yet another information sheet on whether or not I have committed child abuse?! Don't you think if I had, I would not be desiring to add to the number of children in my home? BUT on the flip side I am thankful that there is a proven process to place these children in the best possible homes. Bottom line...if this is what is takes to bring home Baby Bennington #3 then so be it. We will do it! (This phrase has become the anthem to Scott and I during this journey. It has helped to keep us focused on God's plan for the expansion of our family:)
The beginning phases of going through the exhaustive list of medical conditions children have in China and what we "will" and "will not" accept was a very dark time for Scott and I. This was a very emotional time of the adoption paperwork. I cried out to God many times for guidance and reassurance that His will be done and that I not look on this "medical issues" with human eyes and the thoughts of "Can I really handle that?" but confidence in "God can handle that if this is what our child has, help me see this child through your eyes Lord!" To be quite honest, I hated this paperwork phase. Try to wrap your mind around the fact that your child is out there, you feel them, you dream of them, short of carrying them in your womb you feel this undeniable connection to them and you don't even know them. All that is standing in the way of you and the family they are destined to be with is paperwork. More specifically a piece of paperwork that so humanly describes what China calls "imperfections" or "excusable reasons to abandon" and to you, the mom, if this child were born of my womb I would NEVER leave this child for any of these reasons! Yet you are forced to answer!
After lots of praying and wisdom from our amazing case worker from Gladney. God had helped us navigate through the medical conditions list. We had checked "yes" to either sex of child and "preferranced" a child between the ages of 6-18 months at the time of referral (another word for "match" in the adoption lingo;). God reminded Scott and I that he is SO MUCH BIGGER than that simple piece of paper and that our humanness would not get in the way of his plan. How silly of us to fret that we (2 people of out billions) could ever possibly get in the way of God's plan! Another time of being humbled by self centered tendencies;)
ONE SWEET NIGHT IN JANUARY I had a dream. Scott and I were at the park in our neighborhood in this dream. Our kids, Fischer and Lilly, were running around the playground with this adorable little Asian child with short hair. The sun was shining. We were all laughing and smiling. I woke up in such a good mood and an even deeper longing for this child.
I noted this dream a few more times. (I must have liked it so much, I couldn't get it out of my subconscience;) What I really believe is that God was giving me little pictures of our future. I was asking for these signs and praying I would recognize them, was this really one of those times? (You will see in a later story that there is no doubting this was God. Sometimes I think we get these "clear pictures" or answers from God and we run from them for fear of disappointment if they don't come true. My dearest friend and excellent counselor friend, Sarah, helped me realize that it is ok to trust in God and place hope that these are the answers from God. Its ok to even experience disappointment with God, it's just allowing yourself to open up and experience that makes our relationship with God grow! Man, she is so smart!;)
I noted in my journal on a night in February that I had this dream again and in this dream I called out to the child repeatedly "May, May!" I told Scott the next day about my dream. Later that same day, Scott called me from work and told me about an app on his Iphone he had been playing around with. It took English and translated it into Chinese and vice versa. He sounded kind of excited when he called so I was eager to hear what he was telling me. "Hey babe, remember how you said you were calling out to the child May, May as if it was their name? I was playing around on this app on my phone and I think I know what it means. Mei Mei means little sister in Chinese!" I fell silent. My eyes welled with tears. Scott could not have possibly known that I really wanted a little girl, but God knew. God knew and maybe he placed that desire in my heart because he knew that was what he had planned for us or maybe he knew that is what my heart desired and he wanted to give to his little girl...give both to me and to Mei Mei!
A few weeks went by and my heart welled with excitement for our little girl. Scott had a couple reconfirming dreams of our little girl but nothing in specific detail. It was precious to me when he would tell me he had dreams of her. What an amazing dad my husband is! I am so blessed to be able to see this side of him.
All of our children have family names included in them. Our daughter is Lilly Louise after her NaNa. Our son is Fischer Stephen after his Papa. At the end of February, I had the dream one final time and I called her, our little girl, MaeLynn. Lynn is my sisters middle name, as a little sister myself I couldn't imagine a better way to honor my so special older sister than to have her name be a part of our little Mei Mei's name! I was so thankful that God gave us that name for her in this dream. Scott and I both immediately fell in love with MaeLynn and our little girl. (We have now added Ann as her middle name to honor Scott's very special older sister and his mom, our kiddos LOVE their MeMa and Mei Mei will be honored to share a middle name with family too:)
I can tell you today, I haven't had that playground dream of MaeLynn any more. But instead I am up late thinking and longing for our little Mei Mei. Crying and aching for little Mei Mei. Praying that God is with her tonight. That she will have confidence that her forever family is out there... thinking of her...waiting for her...doing everything in our power to bring her home. If you are reading this, please pray for MaeLynn right now and for us as we continue this journey to bring home MaeLynn Ann Bennington!!!!!