Saturday, September 24, 2016

Will We Adopt Again?

Will we adopt again?
It is the question that everyone is asking next to wanting to know how Chapman is doing.
And I ponder it each time it is asked.  Children ask.  Parents ask.  Strangers ask.  Inquiring minds want to know!
The short answer - who knows what lies in store for our family.
The longer answer - well, lets begin at the beginning.
Adoption has forever been a part of my heart.  I even tried to convince my parents to adopt a child when I was still a child.  I even called a caseworker to inquire about a little girl who was in foster care....I was maybe in early high school.  I spent countless hours playing adoption center.  It was a dream that I never ever would have thought to come to fruition in my real life.
And fast forward many years.  Two happy, healthy, gorgeous boys....two excellent pregnancies, two crazy fast deliveries.  But we wanted more.  And the pregnancy route was not to be.  I remember a traveling singing group came to our church when I was very young.  They sang a song with the lyrics "when God closes a door, he opens a window, a window, he opens a window so I can see...."  And at this moment in my life, a door had been closed and a window was opened.  And a possibility of making a lifelong dream of mine come true came to fruition.
MK was our first.  She was our first girl, our first adoption.  And because of the whole adoption experience, the paperwork, the travel, the friends, the expenses....I distinctly remember saying I could never imagine adopting again from China because a second experience would never be the same as the first.  It was kind of that feeling of "how can I ever possibly love a second child the way I love my first" that some mothers tend to wonder.  And, financially, no way could we have ever imagined being allowed the opportunity to adopt a second time.  So, we said MK would be our first and last adoption.
And then came Maddox.  Our sweet, sweet Maddox.  Oh, how this child came to us with such hesitation.  How my heart ached for her.  Again, I remember thinking "well, this is it!" and I almost cried as we went to leave the hotel to begin our journey home....I just knew she would be our last adoption.  And I was just growing to love this country that gave me my daughters.
And then a nudging here and a heart to heart there.....and we were back in the chase for Maryn.  Maryn was, for sure, going to be our last.  The process was different, the wait times were longer....we waited and waited and waited.  And then finally we found her!  And we traveled so quickly and our trip home was AWFUL - and I said to Ryan, "Please, please remind me of this stress when I suggest we adopt again!  We are not going to do this again!"  This, as we walked through the airport back and forth between this counter and that trying desperately to get on a flight, any flight home!  Though my sweet Maryn is truly a gift to all of us, I, as well as the rest of the family, declared that she would most definitely be the last.
A whole hand.  We had a whole hand.  Not an even number like I like but a whole hand.  We were full.
And then that cold December morning when I saw Chapman's face appear on my computer screen.  We were the first to know of her.  The only to know of her.  And I knew she was ours yet I couldn't grasp adopting again - the cost, the paperwork, we were just finally feeling all settled in.  Yet, I knew. At the end of the day, when I look at Chapman, I am reminded of Isaiah 55:8 which states: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways declares the Lord."
At the end of the day, only He knows the answer to everyone's favorite question of whether or not we will adopt again.  Truthfully, I will tell you, no, we won't.  But,  that is my answer, not His.  Only God knows what is to come.
In the meantime, there is much work to be done.  Children live too long in settings that are less than desirable conditions and without the love of a family.  This makes me beyond sad.  I want them all to have a home and I want them (orphans) all to know that they are worthy of life outside of the sterile walls they wake up to day in and day out.  Where people truly do not understand why we do what we do, I find it hard to grasp why others don't do more!?  It is by far the most mind boggling thing to me.  Host a child, sponsor a child, help a family financially who is adopting, offer words of encouragement to those who are waiting, pray for the orphans, pray for the children who will never have a chance to be adopted, pray that families will continue to come forward and adopt - trust me, all of the above is needed.
"Adopting one child won't change the world: but for that child, the world will change." - unknown
And I promise, whether you adopt or support an adopting family, not only will a child's life change, but yours will too!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Our First Week Home in Pictures

These two sisters wasted no time at all getting out the dress-up clothes and the make-up before the sun was even up!  So thankful for them and their love for each other!  
 We tired to get a pic with Gran and Pop....and it was somewhat successful but we are still going to give it a few more tries real soon!
 The outtakes are always my favorite:)
 So I am really not a great souvenir giver....I just have a hard time spending money on something I am not totally sure someone is going to love!  But we wanted to give my father and the boys a gift they would not forget....insert, train food.  Ha.  We took a train from Beijing to Taiyuan.  On the train, we were given these cute little boxes with mini bottles of this vinegar stuff that was believed to be a means of Chinese medicine to ward off cold symptoms.  
 We gave them each a bottle and told them "bottoms up!"
 And their reactions were much like we anticipated.  Bless.
 In the midst of the taste test, these sweet girls were settling in nicely together.  
 And then Gran decided to give some of the train baked delights a try....
 Her face was hysterical but then she had a change of heart and said it actually wasn't that bad!
 And the baby made her rounds to the next big sister!
 Colin was a bit delayed during his tasting....but he finally gave in and gave it a shot!  Ha!
 This site warmed my heart.....five of my six hanging out together in the basement.
 Our second morning home, a sweet friend brought donuts to us for breakfast.
 Chapman did not hesitate to dig in!
 The girls had fun showing Chapman our playset.
 And then we tried a riding toy.....she is a busy little one!
 And then there are these moments....she really is the cutest little thumb sucker ever!
 She loves to climb on the step stool beside our bed and just sit and hang out!
 This picture just makes me laugh!  She was so proud of herself!
 She is just the happiest and we are so thankful!
 Ryan took five of the children to church this morning while Chapman and I stayed behind and had some sweet one-on-one time together. Then when they all returned, much to their dismay, it was picture time!
 The children all made posters for us when we returned home....
 And our neighbors did too!
 We are so thankful for our family and for our friends who joined us in bringing this little miracle home!
 Chapman seems to enjoy her carseat.
 There was a big football game on so I took the little girls to the pool for a bit....Chapman allowed her feet to get wet and that was about it!  She will get there!
 Meal time is a favorite for this little one....and she is eating very well.  She finally humored me and at broccoli!  And she LOVES bananas to the point we have had to hide them from her sight - bless.  I told the children tonight that I imagine she was quite a fussy baby when she was ready to eat....the minute she sees her food, she is ready for it to be in her mouth.  Stat.  
 Sweet moments with Maddox....
 I just knew these two would be friends.
 And Friday we took her out to eat for the first time....a local favorite, Sunrise Grill.  The boys and I used to go there every Friday morning....and now we have a cute little tagalong!  
This little one is doing great!  

Thursday, September 15, 2016

One Week Home

Many have asked how our newest little is doing and how we are all adjusting to our "new normal?"  What I can tell you is that my thoughts today went to how fast this one week home has flown by!  We were in China for two weeks and yet they seemed like forever....home one week today and I feel like we just arrived yesterday!
Backing up a bit....our flight home could not have been better.  We took a train to Hong Kong on Wednesday, slept one night in a hotel by the HK airport, and then departed the following morning for the USA.  The girls settled in well, ate well, and slept well.  We made it to Seattle and I immediately sought out some American-ish food....I say American-ish food because our friend, Veronica, asked me this summer just what was American food!  And that got me thinking....
We boarded our last flight to Atlanta after a brief layover and we were homeward bound.  Again, the girls did great and at touchdown we had a brand new American citizen.  Maryn got off of the plane and immediately asked, "So, where is our hotel?"  I was so happy to tell her that our hotel was at HOME.
We arrived on our street just before midnight and our driveway was packed with well-wishers who stayed up entirely too late to welcome us home.  Tears were shed as we made our way out of the car and introduced them all to Miss Chapman!  Our village certainly outdid themselves by giving so much of their time, cooking skills, carpooling coordinating, etc.!  They are all so amazing and we are indebted to them for life!
Around 2:00am, we made our way to begin to think about bedtime.  Ryan and I were exhausted yet it was at this time that I realized our girls, as sweet as they were on the flights, were not tired because they had rested the whole way home!  EEK!  On and off we slept for a few hours and then it was just time to get up for the day.  This pattern continued for a few nights but, I am so happy to report, we are all adjusted to the time now and sleeping peacefully at night.  HUGE praise!
We have agreed to make a conscience effort to keep Miss Chapman close to home for these first few weeks so as to not overwhelm her and to give her a chance to really know where home is.  Of course there have been a few instances that have interfered with this effort but for the most part, we have been successful in making this happen.
Chapman went to the pediatrician's office on Monday and had to suffer through the finger pricking process - she was less than happy about this process.  She got a great report!
Chapman has learned about ten words this week....we taught her "please" today.  Her delicate little voice is the sound of pure sweetness.  She smiles at just about anything and she charms everyone in her path.  All of her sweetness makes it hard to imagine that she has a bit of spunk sprinkled on top for an added flavor of personality.  When she gets mad, she is mad....and LOUD.  Thankfully, this is not her behavior 99% of the time so, for that, we are thankful!
We have been trying to get her to eat a variety of foods.  She is the most finicky little thing and she inspects every bite before it is allowed in her mouth.  We have been able to add a few new veggies and a few new fruits to her diet but she is still refusing most anything to drink.  Milk is a huge no-no! Chocolate milk is out too!  We have tried several things but, for now, she is living on 75% water mixed with 25% apple juice.  It is the drink of choice and we are sticking with it!
She loves to play.  She loves to go and take out anything that has contents - drawers are being rearranged, cabinets now have new items located in them, toys are strewn about our home - she is what I like to call the "wrecking ball!"  She is hilarious and will have your room turned upside down in a matter of seconds and it will all be done with a very satisfied little irresistible grin on her face.
She is timid around water.
She is getting used to our dog, Finley.  She likes him so much from a distance.
Napping is not something she wants to admit she may need occasionally.  She is in a state of denial and so we will be working on this in the weeks to come!  She does sleep all night and wakes up in the best of moods.
The children all adore her.  The bigs have done a great job loving on her but making sure to love on Maryn too!  Maryn loves being the big sister most of the time but will always be our baby in so many ways.
Integrating another little one in our home has proven to be good!  We were already juggling the schedules of five so number six is along for the ride!  She seems to like her carseat and when she gets bored, she pops her thumb into her mouth and goes to sleep.
We are still early in the game, still on Cloud 9, so though it all is falling into place today, it could change at any moment.  We are definitely still learning her and she is taking it all in.  My theory is that it takes a year.....a year to feel totally normal again, a year to really feel like you know your child and the reactions they are going to have to given situations.  She has a lot to endure in the days to come with doctor visits and a likely surgery so we will buckle up for the ride.  For now, I am thankful that we have our girl home safe and sound and our family is all under one roof!  My favorite part of this first week home has been kissing my babies goodnight every night.  There is nothing sweeter!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Our trip to the orphanage was a long, long day but oh so worth every moment we spent there.  Truthfully, seeing Chapman's face and whole demeanor totally change when she saw her foster mother was worth the entire trip.  
 Chapman had no response to the orphanage workers who brought her to the civil affairs office on Gotcha Day nor did she react when she saw the same two people the following day to finish up paperwork.  I needed her to have a response.  I needed to see that she had a connection or a bond with her caregivers.
 Her face lit up the room!  And Chapman kept her cheek right up against her foster mother's cheek while we were with her.  I asked if they were telling her to give her a kiss and they said yes, a cheek to cheek kiss.
 Chapman caused quite a fuss around the orphanage office.  She was quite the star of the show!  
 Chapman was all smiles and when I asked if she was always this sweet, they all responded, "YES!"
 After visiting with Chapman's foster mother, we were asked to tour the upstairs part of the orphanage.  Maryn quickly took her shoes off to play for a bit on their indoor playground.
 The walls were very bright and happy....
 and the bath room looked a bit interesting.
 The children all seemed happy and were thrilled to see us as we walked through.
 The drive to the orphanage took a total of four hours one way.  So we were in the van for eight hours in one day :/
 As a last resort kind of thing, I purchased make-up for Miss Maryn to keep herself occupied with during our trip.  It was a huge hit!  I had to laugh when she walked into the hotel lobby, 10pm, and the staff looked at her as if she had three heads!  Hilarious.

Shamian Island

For MK and Maddox's adoption, we stayed on Shamian Island with other adoptive families.  Now families stay off of the island closer to the US Consulate and the Medical Affairs building.  
 But one can't adopt from China and not go to the island for the day.  The island is a taste of home.  Absolutely beautiful!  It is quaint, the pollution seems so much less, it is green, you can walk freely as the traffic is not the same....
One of our favorite sites to see are the models who are being photographed for bridal magazines I assume....our first trip we thought they were all brides/grooms prepping for their big day!  Ha. Now we know, they are just models and probably don't even know one another.
 Parks....and the locals hanging out....
 and mini ping pong games....
 and Lucy's.....we didn't eat there this time but I am sure it won't disappoint those who are craving western food.
 The island provides a great opportunity to get a few photos too!
 This smile is one of my seven favorite smiles!
 Maryn was all about purchasing a fan while in China.  She fell asleep as we toured the island but when she awoke, she was all smiles and asking for her fan.  We quickly made our way to a store and she immediately chose this fan and made her buy!
 A girl and her thumb.
 Maryn wasn't too much about being photographed....she was more into being silly and playing with her fan!
 And this sweet girl.
She enjoyed her freedom to walk a bit on this day and we watched her in awe with every step!