Thursday, April 23, 2015

Pretty Girl

When we were waiting to travel for Everly I sent her a care package. In that care package there was a disposable camera and some other things all tucked neatly in a book bag. On the day Everly became a Sharp the book bag didn't come with her. She has several other paper bags that had some snacks and her medicine. Once we got back to the hotel and I was able to go through those bags I did come across the disposable camera. I put it away and in the chaos of life just got the film developed today. Five months later.

I opted to get the pictures on a disc because honestly, I wasn't sure that there was anything on the camera. At this point I would have been happy with one picture but I was pleasantly surprised when I got home to find there were 36 pictures on this disc. They were all taken the same day but they were pictures that I didn't have and I was so thankful that they took the time to take my girl on a photo shoot :)

As I excitedly scrolled through the pictures, each one so similar to the last, I came across this:

And for a few minutes I sat there looking at my girl. This picture stopped me in my tracks and brought so many emotions to the surface for me.
See at this point she had no idea she was a daughter.

I know she saw many leave the orphanage before her. Did she wonder if she would have a family of her own? Did she wonder what took us so long to get there?

Can we talk about how far she has come and the little ways she lights up my world?

She has the most amazing belly laugh.
She LOVES music and she loves dancing.
She has the stinkiest breath in the mornings.
She would eat hamburgers and hot dogs everyday.
She loves school and has made lots of friends.
She tries really hard to listen and make good choices.
She loves to sleep in our bed.
She loves Elias. I mean loves him. She wears his baseball hat around the house.
She wants a yaya like Norah... and Norah gave her one. She sleeps with it every night.
She loves when Sam helps her and always says thank you to him and wants to lavish him with hugs.
Her English is coming along so nicely and when she spouts off a new word we all erupt in applause and she is so so proud of herself.
She is determined.
She is so self sufficient and will blow your mind with the things she is capable of doing with just one arm.
She has learned how to be held.
She has learned to hug back.
She says I love you.
She will grin from ear to ear and salute Shannon when she see's him in his uniform.
It is amazing to watch her know and learn the love of a daddy.

This girl. Oh, this girl. Some days are rough and some days are amazing.
I will take the bad days 6 days a week for that one good day. Yes, it is that good. And thankfully those bad days are wearing away little by little.
The light in her eyes will blind you.

That little girl in the picture, she is gone. She has been replaced with life and light and joy. She has been given a name and a purpose. She has been given a home and a future. She has been given a new identity.

But we have been given so much more.

I am so thankful I am her mom. I am thankful for the hard parts. I am thankful for the good days.  I am thankful for the unending hugs and sweet kisses.

This songs sums up so perfectly my heart for my Evy Jane.
"Pretty Girl"
by Sarah McLachlan

Monday, April 13, 2015


So I have attempted to write this post for some time now and each time I was pulled away by one thing or another. Maybe it wasn't the right time, maybe it was me just being hesitant.

I have gotten many messages and text and face to face conversations from people thanking me for being "real" in this adoption. More times than not, if you ask how things are going I am going to be honest with you. There are good days and bad days and my answers will vary day by day.

But I feel so icky just putting it out there on the world wide web for anyone to see and scrutinize and judge. I do believe that there are people that genuinely care and I believe that there are nosey people. Such is life.

So maybe that is why things felt so icky, I don't know. The last thing I want is for any of my kids to get a hold of this blog when they are older and think, "Oh, my mom felt THAT way??" Ewww.

In the spirit of being real though, and not going into details, I will tell you that this adoption has been hard. Heck, every adoption that we have done has been hard. Now that I think about it, show me one that is a cake walk.

Yes, we asked for it and yes, we knew what we were getting ourselves into. (We really had no idea....) We felt prepared and felt ready and felt all these feelings in general and we were blindsided.

 I won't go into the details but....

I have friendships that I thought for sure would be lifelong that have dissolved because I am "too busy."
I have cancelled one too many hair appointments, one too many coffee dates, one too many lunch dates.
I have been incredibly weird, incredibly distant and incredibly emotional.
I have backed out of obligations, meetings and family outings.
I have cried my eyes out, said words that are far too foul and often thought worse of people than are true.
I have prayed, thrown my hands up, begged, and turned my back.
I have lived these last four months beside a child and have gone with her places in darkness that no child should be accustomed to.

I have seen the kindest child spit nails.
I have seen the older child seem so childish.
I have seen the child that loves with all he has spew venom.

This has been an incredible life change for our whole family. This has turned one little girls life completely upside down.

I say all of this to ask for your grace and your understanding and that you not take our absence personally. If we cancel last minute or if we are an hour late, or I forget to call you back or don't call at all.... grace.

There are some days that we just cannot leave the house. There are some nights that are just too long.

Thank you to the friends that have stayed the course, to those that haven't given up on us. Thank you to the friends that speak life into us. To the friends that I can confide in without judgment. To the friends and family that get it, to those that pour love on our kids no matter how messy we are.
Thank you for those that have shown grace and have offered a kind word. Thank you for not judging. Thank you for loving.

I cannot begin to tell you how far we have come. I cannot begin to tell you how far she has come. She really blows me away with her tenacity and perseverance. There are times that I just tear up and thank God she is ours. It has only been 4 months and she has burrowed and ingrained herself in my heart.
We have a long way, but praise God we are moving forward.

To those out there in the trenches, tackling one day at a time, praying for a better day tomorrow.... tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow is a new day of grace.

"I will not cause pain without allowing something NEW to be born, says the Lord." Isaiah 66:9

Monday, February 9, 2015


This is going to be long one. Go ahead and grab a cup of joe and settle in.

I want to tell you a story about a little girl, a fighter, a daughter, a sister...

It was freezing cold in Luohe as we were standing in the civil affairs office waiting on Everly. She was one of the last vans to get there. We watched all of these other families getting their babies. Some of the babies were crying, some were in shock and others reached for their parents as if to say, "Hey! I have been waiting on you!!" It is such a precious thing to see. Families that are normally brought to light in the most intimate atmospheres are formed today in front of an audience of 24. It was loud, cold and emotional. Everly's van pulled up and we knew she was in there. All of the other babies had arrived and been placed. It was just our family and another family that were waiting at this point.
I couldn't believe that this was it. This is what we had been waiting on for a year. In about 2 seconds we were going to see her right in front of us.
I saw her red coat and recognized it from the care package we sent.

first Everly sighting...

Yep. That was her.

She was with a nanny and another gentleman from the orphanage. As she looked at the daunting steps in front of her, she turned back around as if to head for the van. Her nanny talked to her and she put one foot in front of the other and moved forward. Courage.

She got halfway up the steps and I couldn't stand it anymore. I met her where she was. She immediately got frightened and turned to her nanny and buried her head in her jacket. The nanny explained I was Mama and to hold my hand. I reached for her. And she looked at me, eyes so soulful and terrified. She took my hand. Her sweet hand was so cold and so sweaty at the same time. Trembling, she held it. And we walked up the stairs together. As soon as she got inside the building she went.... wild. Walking quickly and we lost sight of her immediately. She was going family to family, her eyes were wild and she was just completely overwhelmed.

                                                               Leaving Civil Affairs Office

We took very few pictures that day. And very few pictures of our time in China.
We didn't leave the hotel room unless we had paperwork to do. Smells nauseated her, the busyness confused her, the wind made her drop to her knees. She did better in the hotel room. It was a controlled environment. She learned a bit about us and we learned a bit about her.

That was 2 months ago.

Fast forward to today. My girl starts school Wednesday. She is so excited. She told our guide in China that she wanted two things in America. 1. To go to school. 2. To have long hair.
We have her book bag packed already. Got school supplies today. Lunchbox on the counter.

But what has really happened in those 2 months??


Our first few weeks were spent at home. Luckily the kids had Christmas break and we were all home together. What a gift!!

It was day in and day out people in your face. The smells were all to nauseating to her once again. The seizures were coming every few days. She was up wandering at 3 in the morning. She was still on China time. I made one to many calls to my Katie for mandarin help. Everly was so unsure of everything around her. She was constantly on the defense, constantly looking over her shoulder and trusting no one. She was angry.
So day in and day out it was the same routine. Every once in a while we would venture out to a store and more times than not we had to leave to come home.
There were many behaviors that needed correcting, learned behaviors that were so normal for her.
She had NO idea what family was. No idea that we would be with her for the rest of her life. She had no idea what any of this meant.
Just thinking about it now makes me so sad for her. Sad for those kids that will never know what a family is.

Little by little she is learning to trust. Little by little she is blossoming.

I cannot believe how far she has come.

                                             Family Day                     6 weeks a Sharp

She has so much courage in that little body of hers. I think about where we were two months ago and I just cannot believe it. Some of you I called and poured my heart out to while in China. And you helped me more than words can ever say. Dinners that were delivered to our house were a blessing beyond words. There was no way I could have fed my family in those early days. It was all we could do to survive. Justine came to my house to cut my shaggy hair, and it was a good thing. It forced me to take a shower and do something with myself. My sweet Seattle friend that sent bedrails and my CA friend that sent cookie butter. There are no words. The support system we have is hands down the best.
Thank you to everyone that loved on our family. There is really no way to thank you fully. And to that special one that left a bottle of wine at my door step.... bless you. ;)

Everly. She is a treasure. She is so girly girl. She loves Barbies and bracelets and hair clips. She is such a sweet child. Random kisses and the tightest hugs.  She loves to dance and sing.

I love to see the confidence she gains each day. She is holding her head higher. She was once a child that had no idea how to engage in a hug or be held. I had my moment of the year in the Target parking lot when she wrapped her legs around me when I picked her up. Yes, I cried.

Now my girl is going to school. I feel like we just got her. There was a time when I didn't think we would make it. That I wouldn't make it. That somehow all of this wouldn't fit.
But it fits so perfectly.

As I type this, Everly and Norah are sleeping side by side and I hear these little giggles every once in a while. Everly is a sister. She has an older brother that is so protective and loving to her. She has a little brother that rejoices with her when she learns a new word.
She is a daughter. Her dad is smitten, gonner, done. He is so gentle with her and I am telling ya. Seeing him with his kids... oh man.

I am so thankful she is ours. I am so thankful that we said yes. I am so thankful that God put the lonely in our family. I am so thankful she is giving us a chance and that she has the courage to just be.

She has come so so far. We have come so far.

She is so incredibly worthy.