Sunday, May 19, 2013

Hope is 14 Today!

Today is Hope's 14th Birthday.  This birthday is very important.  No it's not a sweet 16 or even the 18th birthday.  You see, if Hope had not been adopted by today, she would not have ever known what a family is.  When I think of how important the 14th birthday is to a waiting child in China, well it just brings a whole new excitement to this birthday to the child who is home.  This is also Hope's first birthday with a family.  I took her to the grocery store this morning to buy her birthday lunch (and to get her out of the house so the rest of the family could decorate the house to surprise her).  She was so excited to just go by herself with me.  And I let her sit in the front seat. Another big deal for Hope.  I let Hope get the free cookie (she asked "does this cost you money?").  And then she got a sample of some chicken & veggies (she asked again if it would cost me money).  When I told her no, it did not cost money, she lit up with a big smile and gladly accepted.  On our way home, I asked if she was happy. She said she was very happy. I asked her if she remembered her last birthday.  She said "Yes, I was in China. Mommy & Daddy gave me a cake".  Then she said "That was my first birthday party". I said "Did you know when your birthday was before the party?"  She replied "No, I didn't know my birthday". I wanted to cry. I knew her answer would be that, but hearing it from her mouth just made it real.

So today we wanted to spoil Hope with her first birthday at home.  Bill & I went and bought Hello Kitty supplies (she LOVES Hello Kitty).  Bill & I also picked up a cake (she asked me at the grocery store if we would get a cake and I told her no, just ice cream).  When we brought out her cake after lunch, she was HAPPY!

Hope has come a long way. She is really trying to fit into the family life. She does still need more attention, but she is getting better.  She moved downstairs into her own bedroom and she is SO happy.  9 months ago, Hope was terrified of the water.  Today she was jumping into the pool and swimming under the water.  She loves the pool.

I think Hope had a great birthday. She LOVED her gifts, she loved her lunch, she loved her cake. And at the end of the day everyone had a root beer float.  Yes, our kids were on a sugar high, but it's okay.  They were all having fun.

I am so thankful that Hope will NEVER have to spend another birthday in an orphanage.  Or alone.  She is surrounded by so many who love her.  And I know that she knows she's one lucky girl.  The smile proves how happy she is.  And we are happy that she is happy.

Enjoy the photos.   Happy Birthday Miss Hope. We love you!

Monday, May 6, 2013

9 Months

9 months ago today we walked into the Civil Affairs office in Hefei, China and we were very nervous. We waited a little while for the girls to show up.  And then they walked in. Not a care in the world about us.  They were told to say hello to us. They were told to smile and take photos for and with us.  They wanted to just ignore us.  Then the tears started.  And they pushed us away.  That lasted about 30 minutes or so.  Then it was time to leave the office and then we got smiles, we heard "Daddy" for the first time, we got giggles.  Then the "fun" began.

So much has changed in these last 9 months.  The shy, scared girls that we met that day are no longer visible.  They are strong girls, full of life.  Full of spunk.  It's been 9 months of new, for the girls and for us.  Parenting 6 kids has had it's challenges.  Adopting 2 older girls from another country has had it's challenges.  We have our good days and then our bad days.  Maggie seems to have adjusted well.  She loves the family, loves to laugh, loves to play, loves to help out.  Hope has not adjusted as easily.  Not sure why.  Not sure if she is overwhelmed with the size of our family (you would think she would be used to noise & lots of kids but I don't think she is).  Hope is trying now. She wants the family to be happy.  But she still has her bad moments.  And we are trying to work through them.  We have started to see a therapist, her, Bill & I.  So far they have just been asking us what we want to get out of these sessions. Our answer is basically "we want to feel normal. We want to understand what Hope needs".  Hope does not want to go.  She acted up during the hour we were there.  The therapist said nothing. Maybe she was watching how we react.  I'm praying these sessions can help us.  Because the behaviors that we experience are starting to affect the entire family.

On a positive note, the girls are learning so much. Their English is amazing. They do not speak Chinese to us or each other.  They have chatted a few times on Skype with friends and they speak Chinese & English.  They did a presentation in front of their entire class the other day. And the whole class cheered. Their teacher cried.  Hope & Maggie were beaming.  They are making friends and they want to have a birthday party. So we are trying to coordinate this.

We are thankful that God chose us to adopt.  There are days I question what was He thinking when he chose us to parent 6 kids.  :-)  But I know He's with us, and he's helping us get through the difficult times.  We cherish every happy moment we have.  We are thankful.

This is my favorite photo from today.  I love how Hope is looking at Maggie.

Please pray for Hope.  She is getting an expander put in her mouth tomorrow. This is the beginning phase of her dental work before she has a bone graph next summer.  She is not too thrilled about having this done.  Thanks!

This is their favorite shirt. They wear it every Monday. It says "Friday Makes Me Happy. (on the back) Monday Makes Me Sad".