Saturday, March 17, 2012

Gotcha Day FOUR

Four years and three months ago, we received one of our most precious gifts, an unexpected phone call. I believe the only words I heard were, "....10 month old baby girl....she needs a family." Hours later - really it was only like ONE hour but felt like MANY more - we saw Mason-Kate's face for the very first time. Those eyes. And those little precious lips. I still get weak at the site of this picture.
On March 17, 2008, we held our Mason-Kate for the very first time. We heard her first cry before we even saw her. And her little bright red, rosy cheeks will forever be etched in my mind.
Four years later and the baby girl that we met in China is still very much the little girl that we are blessed to call our daughter today. She is "spicy" as the Chinese would say. She has spunk. She doesn't go down without a fight. Her little heart is tender. Her hugs are forever. Her laugh is contagious. She has this determination about her that I envy - she will go far in life, no doubt.
This particular year has brought a few more questions about her life in China. And as she grows, I realize more and more the importance of educating her on adoption and equipping her with as much age appropriate knowledge possible about her life.
Early in the week, MK asked to watch her Gotcha Day video. She said, "I want to know my story - I think I forgot." Four years ago, our lives were touched, our eyes were opened to a beautiful life and today we celebrate!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Happy One Year Home Maddox Ren!

Seems like just yesterday we were staring at this picture.....

One year ago....


She was so scared. And hot. And confused.

Her world was taken from her.


The only family she had ever known; the food she was used to eating, gone. Familiar smells ceased to exist. The comfort of five layers of clothing left behind. The sounds, the language, her name. Her bed. Every.Little.Thing.

And my heart hurt for her. And still does sometimes. And probably always will. No one, even if it is for the better, should have to endure what my girls have.

Our first night as her family. We were all so excited. And nervous. We all tried endlessly to keep her happy. And, for the most part, it worked....or, at least, she didn't cry. Some things I will always remember about that day. The first sight of Maddox and the guide saying in the midst of chaos, "Hua You Ren is here now. She is here!" And I can never forget thinking she didn't look as tiny as her measurements said she would be - then, we got back to the hotel room and realized that beneath the layers and layers of clothing, she was indeed as tiny as we had anticipated.
And our first morning. As you can tell from this pic, the boys and MK are all dressed, ready for the day. Maddox just woke up. Or, at least, we assume she just woke up. I will never, ever forget going in to check on her after her first nights rest with her new family. She was laying there. Those bright, brown eyes stared back at me. She looked deep into my eyes as if to say, "Oh, it's you. You are still here." And then she rolled over. I picked her up, anticipating a cry. Tears were present but she never made a sound.
And during our time in China, she tolerated us. She may have even enjoyed us on most days. She began to smile. And do "high fives" and "thumbs up." A year later, I realize just how guarded she was. How scared she was. Her needs were met but we were total strangers. What she didn't know is that we have loved her from afar for six months. What we didn't grasp was how hard it was for her to let go.
From day one, Maddox Ren has been a joy. She is our explorer. She is engaging. She is easy.
It is the little things in life that bring her smiles. Shoes. Taking her clothes off all by herself. Stickers. Play Doh. Paint. Outside. Jumping. Singing. Dancing. Lip Gloss. Painted nails.
I am pretty sure she is always thinking about what she can do next. She can play independently and she is definitely one of those children that if you don't hear her, you need to check on her :)
And those eyes. That face. She just has this way with wrapping us all around her little finger.
She enjoys all things new. And she is especially good at figuring out how things work. She LOVES puzzles. She loves to press buttons. She is quite clever with the IPad, the computer and my phone.
Probably one of my favorite memories this year was watching Maddox at the beach. I am so glad I was able to capture the picture above....her first touch of sand. She could not get enough. And the feeling intrigued her.
This year, we have watched our baby girl go from wanting us near because we were all she knew, to wanting us near because she loved us and it scared her when we left, to being able to trust that when we left her, we would come back. It was a process. And one that was heartbreaking at times. And one that challenged us. Thankfully, one year later, Miss Maddox will walk into familiar settings, ie our church or her Mother's Day Out room, and hesitantly yet happily blow me a kiss goodbye.
And her smiles are there from the moment she wakes up to the moment she goes to bed. She and MK share a room. Each morning, I can hear them as they play together. They giggle and sing and tell stories - these sounds make my heart warm. I love that they have each other.
Her transition into our family has truly been seamless. I asked Ryan what he would say has been the hardest part and his response was, "Well, I really can't think of anything. Unless, you consider the unknowns." What unknowns was my question and he went on to say, "Just not knowing about her surgeries." To elaborate....Maddox has worked so hard on speech. She is getting there little by little and we celebrate with her as she continues to progress. However, she does have some palate issues that could open up the opportunity for surgery sooner rather than later in her life. But, it is what it is and if we are told to move forward with surgery, so be it.
She has no difficulty communicating. As you can see in this pic, she is saying, "Feed me chocolate and I am one happy little girl!"
And she has had no trouble keeping up with the rest. Monkey see, monkey will try to do. Give her a task, she will complete it. Or try. We hear a lot of the cutest, "Me, me, me, me!" or "I do!"
Four months of forever and we had a large party to celebrate the birth of our baby girl. She turned two years old. Little did she know, in her two years of life, she had touched many. Those with a heart for adoption will understand completely when I say that when one chooses to financially or prayerfully support a family during their adoption, you are a part of their family forever.
I will admit I am having a hard time with this whole one year anniversary.....
hence, the plethora of pictures! It has just gone by so fast. Too fast.
For me, the first year of our adoptions, have been very similar to the first year of life with each of our boys. It is a year of growth and learning, both physically and emotionally.
She came to us barely walking. And now she runs, climbs, jumps. She knew not a word in English. And we definitely didn't know Chinese - we couldn't even say her name in Chinese so that she would respond. Now, she understands EVERYTHING we say to her. She yells, "Help me, Mommy!" and she says, "Scatch!" when she wants me to scratch her back and she calls for "Mei Mei" and "Col Col" and "Pyce" and when I ask her who she loves she responds, "Daddy!" with the biggest grin ever...
And she knows love. And trusts us enough to show us her love. She feels safe. And she is happy.
Her life is changed.
And our lives are changed.
Oh, and she can share me now. I was so prepared for MK to have jealousy issues. Turns out, Maddox was the jealous one. She wanted to make sure MK knew that I was hers and she wasn't about sharing. At one point, she would scream if MK even so much as looked at me or sat beside me. Of course, I had little tolerance for this so it did not take too long for her to realize that one lap can hold two kiddos :)
And Pryce continues to be smitten.
And Colin just makes her laugh. I must say there is something so sweet about their relationship. She adores him.
Oh sweet girl how far you have come!
We are so blessed to be called YOUR forever family! Happy one year home Maddox Ren!