Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Marvel of Language Acquisition and Adoption Realities

"I need to go potty." said a precious little voice said near me. 

"What?!" I replied, with more excitement than the normal for a jaunt to the potty while out and about. 


My Sweet Silly Girl Rocking Her New Bangs!

Yes, dear readers, this was Eva's first grammatically correct complete sentence, made on July 30, 2015. 

I apologize for the delay in relaying an update. We have been running from doctor's visit to work events to play time with friends before school starts again. I'm sure you all understand. ;) Having three active kids in middle of summer is quite the busy but fun time. 

Eva has been saying lots of things in English as we have reached the 3 month mark. She puts two or three words together as well as some whole complete sentences, out of the blue, without a question asked of her. I'm so proud of her work at learning and understanding the English language!

Our journey through language acquisition has been unique to each child. Grace was only 18 months when we adopted her so she never even learned Mandarin. She simply learned English 

Anthony was 8 when we brought him home so he was reading, writing and speaking fluently in Mandarin. It was much harder for him to grasp the structure of our sentences and to remember vocabulary. But, when you speak to him now, you would never know! He has done an amazing job of learning English and we have crossed a threshold with his Chinese as well. He can now think independently in one and switch over the other language with having to translate in his head like he was before. I'm so proud of him. 

Eva amazes me. Her ability to remember English vocabulary astounds me. I will tell her something and she repeats it a few times, with great pronunciation I might add, and remembers it! Oh to have the mind of a young child!

One of my favorite things she says quite frequently is "Nope!" Not "no", NOPE!! 

While the English language acquisition is going well, there are, of course, still struggles with discipline. This is the most difficult part of the transition this time around. Imagine being four years old, ripped from a safe and loving environment and then not only being asked to adjust and live with people who speak a different language but to also behave. I think we can all agree it would be hard. She gets frustrated daily which is completely understandable. She also is at the age where she sees things as black and white and needs clear direction but there is that tricky language barrier. We also definitely do things different from what she experienced in the foster home at the orphanage and require a certain level of respect that she is not used to as yet. She has a such a sweet spirit but is also constantly testing us (as toddlers do). "This is my toy, why should I share? I've never had my own toy, I don't want to share. I want things on my own terms." 

We would appreciate prayers for the continuing transition!

As summer has come to an end and our homeschooling has begun as well as the Pilates Instructor training that I lead, life is busy, but we will persevere through knowing when we we are weak (all the time!), He is strong!

Last Friday of Summer!!

First Day of Our Homeschool Coop!

After Coop! LOL





Sunday, August 2, 2015

Just for Me Bible Giveaway!

Our new sweet girl has been a Meledeo now for almost three months. Her attachment is growing in leaps and bounds as well as her English acquisition (more on that in a different post). She does a wonderful job of sharing toys with Grace who is only 13 months older, but she asks all the time is this mine or Jie Jie's (Chinese word for big sister). Many times it is something I have deemed both of theirs. Coming from a place where she had very little of her own, she was excited to discover that this precious little Bible was just for her!! We have been reading it to her even though her lack of understanding the English language precludes her from truly comprehending the gospel message right now, but one day she will, so we will press on. She loves being read to and wants us to read from her Bible every night. She loves the little handle is has and carries it around with her daily. It's really the sweetest thing. We are so excited to see her language and understanding grow each day. Soon, she will understand these Bible stories and the love God has for her. I excited to share with one of my readers a copy of this Bible from Tommy Nelson!

Just for Me Bible


This padded board book with handle features the most popular stories from the Bible with bright art and kid-friendly text—all for a low price perfect for Easter basket purchases.
Parents love introducing their favorite Bible stories to young children, and this book of Bible favorites is the perfect way to share these timeless stories with kids. This padded board book features twenty of the most popular stories from the Bible with short, kid-friendly text paired with bright, engaging art perfect for little ones’ attention spans. With a padded cover and a carry-me handle, this book is easy for kids to take on the go. 

Bible stories include Adam and Eve, Noah’s ark, Moses, Samson, David and Goliath, the fiery furnace, Daniel in the lions’ den, Jonah, Jesus’ birth, Jesus and the children, Jesus’ miracles, Jesus’ parables, the Crucifixion, and Jesus’ Ascension.
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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

One step forward, two steps back . . . the attachment roller coaster




I love my sweet girl.

I love the sound of her laughter.

I love it when her face breaks into a smile.

I love hearing her precious little voice sing and prattle endlessly.

I love lying beside her as she falls asleep, looking at me with droopy eyes, whispering, "wo ai ni". 

I love you too, dearest one.


I hate seeing fear in her eyes. 

I hate that she can't quite comprehend yet that we are her forever home. No one will ever take her away. But in time and by God's grace she will understand. 

Some days are good, some days are bad. 

Some days are easy, some days are hard.

Right now, I am her safety blanket. 

Am I tired most of the time? 



Of course, but just to see her smile when I enter the room makes my heart melt and the weariness fall away. 

Sometimes my wrist tendinitis flares up from holding her all the time, but I don't care.  I cherish every minute holding her. I missed out on so many. 

She is a precious gift from God and we are so grateful that God choose to let us walk with her during this time. 

She grows in leaps and bounds each day. She parrots our English phrases with astonishingly excellent diction and she learns the meaning of new English words daily, but without Anthony, we would be even more lost in the sea of miscommunication. 

As her two month anniversary with us approaches, I am amazed at her progress. She is right where she should be. She is learning to trust, rest and relax in our love. 


One day soon, I pray she will know and comprehend the love of Father in heaven. He has great plans for her. I can't wait to see them unfold. 

Blessings,


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Reflections on attachment one month in . . .

My heart is filled with love, love for a little girl.



The site of her smile makes my heart leap.

The sound of her voice saying "Wo ai ni, Mama" is truly a blessing from the Lord.

But it didn't start there; it was a process. A process that has only just begun.

In those first few minutes, hours, and days, it sometimes felt like we would never hear those words from her, even though we knew we would.

I wondered, will she ever run to me and love me, even though I knew she would.

Then, as God worked in her sweet little heart and in our hearts, her eyes were opened to the us.

She understood.

We are here for her. We want to take care of her and love her unconditionally.

We are her forever family.

There is still a long journey ahead, and I can't wait to see it unfold.

I am excited to see how God works in all our lives, knitting us together as a family.



_________________________________

Many have asked me how she is doing. Is she learning English? What food does she like? Etc. . . 

She is doing great! She is a super sweet, helpful and loving little girl. Each day her love for us grows as does our love for her. Just in this past week, she has started to saying I love you in Chinese constantly and hugging us when she does. It just melts my heart. She loves to be held and snuggled by us. While she is still very small for her age, the good news is she loves to eat. She likes pretty much everything except for cheese (in certain cases). Anthony communicates well with her in Chinese, but she is also starting to wrap her mind around the connection between certain Chinese and English words. As a side note, she loves helping me with the dishes. Score!! ;)

Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we work on attachment and bonding with our precious new gift from the Lord.

Blessings,



Monday, May 25, 2015

Finally in Guangzhou

Watching the Chinese countryside whiz by from the high speed train to Guangzhou was fascinating. It brought to mind the many books I have read about life in China and sent me off into my imagination wondering what life is truly like for these farmers.

I must admit the train experience was filled with some adrenaline raising experiences. Imagine me with two backpacks, two little girls (one of which doesn't speak English) and a squatty potty. Next, imagine the NYC Subway or DC Metro at rush hour and then picture the 5 of us, each rolling a suitcase and navigating the mad dash down the escalator to the train with a new child who clearly hadn't been on an escalator before.






Well, the good news is we made it to Guangzhou, safe and sound and to our room (although, there was construction right below our room that was super loud from 9 am to 6 pm so we are now in a different room because naps are a must for a certain four year old). Then, we were up the next morning for Eva's medical appointment and TB test (all adopted children over the age of 2 must be tested for TB before entering the U. S.). Eva did well with the doctors, asking them cute questions about what kind of doctor they were and such. Our guide, Jason, keeps telling us about the cute conversations she has with people. I can't wait to hear all she has to say once she learns English.






On Sunday we went to the Pearl Market which is six floors of wholesale jewelry shops; to quote Adam, a gentleman's worst nightmare. However, we were on a mission to get pearls so we were in and out in 30 minutes. Then, we were off to Shamian Island where we bought a few souvenirs and ate at Lucy's, a novelty American restaurant where many adoptive families eat. The island used to be where many of the final steps of the adoption process occurred but not any more. Now it is just a place for tourists to visit.


Today we went to the zoo and had fun in the CRAZY humidity checking out the animals.



We just got back from the River Cruise which was really cool!



What have we learned about Eva thus  far? She is a crazy, silly, precious little firecracker of a girl who has quite the stubborn streak. In China, they call girls from the Hunan province "spicy girls" and we got an extra spicy one! She loves to be silly but when she is upset, you know it! She is a polite little thing (except when she isn't getting her way, of course) and is always saying "thank you" and "your welcome" in Chinese, and if we accidentally bump into her and say sorry, she gets upset because she wants us to say sorry in Chinese since she doesn't know English yet.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Dumpling Day

Tears streamed down her face. They streamed down ours as well. Watching your child say goodbye to the only family she has ever known is hard but we know it is all part of God's plan. His plan for her and His plan for us. Saying goodbye is never easy but we go forward with wonderful memories and the knowledge that God has amazing plans for her just as He does for Anthony and Grace. To see what God has done in their lives and ours through the miracle of adoption makes me even more excited to see what He has planned for Eva.

-----------------


As the van pulled up to our hotel, we entered with trepidation knowing this would be a difficult yet important day for our girl. But every step of the way, I could feel strength that only comes from our Heavenly Father (thanks to the prayers of many). She had been asking to return home since she first came to us, and we now know that was in part because she knew about dumpling day and wanted to know when it would happen. She knew it would be her time to say goodbye.

We pulled up to the orphanage gates and she dissolved into tears as she saw the workers she loved standing there waiting for us. With tears streaming down her face, we visited her school room and friends as well as the rooms of other children adopted in our group.




 
Finally, with heavy steps yet peace in our hearts, we walked toward her door. The door swung open to reveal her foster baba who she immediately reached for with fresh tears. He had tears too. A moment I will never forget.



They ushered us into their tiny apartment as if we were long lost family members. Hugging us and sharing information about Eva with us. Her foster baba wanted us to know she is afraid of thunder and her foster mama showed us her favorite toys.





The dumpling making station was set up in the living room and the kids sat down and got to work. Eva was beside herself with joy over this, a brief respite in a difficult day. The children had great fun, but then the dumplings came out. Of course, the foster mama had made tons of dumplings for everyone with us! It was decided by all that they were some of the best dumplings they had ever had!


They gave us gifts as well. Thoughtful little gifts for Grace and Anthony and very special ones for us. The foster mama made us a beautiful cross stitch.



As I looked around her room, clearly decorated with love, my eyes landed on a beautiful photo of Eva. I took a picture of it so I could remember it and her foster mama came over with tears in her eyes and gestured to me and the wall. She wanted me to take it.



But the real gift they gave us was love. Their love for Eva and their love for us. Love that crosses oceans.





I know I will have more thoughts as I process all that happened but for now I will leave you with this. Isn't our God AMAZING?!


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Joyous Yet Difficult Day



Many girls dream of their wedding day and then of what life will be like once married. We picture our children and lives in an array of different ways, but we are almost always wrong, right?! Our new husband doesn't take out the trash when asked or our new baby cries all night.


But sometimes our imagining can be uncertain. That is how it is with adoption. You are prepared for many differ scenarios, unsure of how it will play out. But even being "prepared" for a reaction doesn't make it any easier.

We knew our sweet Eva Hanting would be sad. But knowing that doesn't make the reality any easier.

We knew she would grieve for her foster family who clearly loved her very much. But knowing that doesn't make my heart ache any less for her.

Walking into the room at the civil affairs office and seeing her sitting there with tears streaming down her face made my heart break even more.

So we held her and tried to love on her as best we could in that moment. That is all you can do. We can show her love and demonstrate that we will take care of her, but it is only our Heavenly Father who can truly comfort her little heart.




As I sit now in the quiet of our small and cramped hotel room, thinking back on yesterday and watching my two sweet girls sleeping peacefully (nap time is a must right now), I am so thankful to my God who carried us through the always difficult first day of an adoption. The outpouring of love and support from friends and family was also felt. God held us yesterday as a family and I know He will never let us go.



 
We had moments of tears due to grief, exhaustion and confusion but we also had moments of joy and smiles as her little mind tried to process what was happening. She is an absolute joy.









I am so thankful for the foster family who loved her and cared for her until it was God's appointed time for her to join us.

The sweet foster mama made these amazing books of photos and of her artwork with detailed descriptions. It is truly amazingly. What a gift for us and for her.


As we woke up today, we saw a different little girl. A silly, happy and playful one who called us Mama, Baba, brother and sister. There will be more grief to come, of course, but in her heart, I believe she knows that we will take care of her and love her.



Tomorrow morning (Wednesday in China, Tuesday evening the U.S.) we have a special event planned for us and we would call on all our amazing prayer warriors to join us as we cover Eva in prayer tomorrow. One of Eva's six birthday wishes (apparently, in China you can have multiple wishes!) was to have her first family, as she calls them, and her new family come together and make dumplings, her favorite. So we, of course cannot miss out on this amazing opportunity, but we know it will be difficult for her.

So how are Grace and Anthony doing with all this? Anthony has been AMAZING! He talks to her constantly in Chinese helping to ease her frustration over not being understood which is something he struggled with when we first adopted him. Grace is struggling a little as to be expected because she had certain ideas of how it would be to have a little sister and her little sister can't understand her and takes attention away. But that is a natural response and we are jet lagged so a little grumpiness can be found all around from time to time.

Thanks again for all your support and prayers and stay tuned for the events of Dumpling Day!

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