Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christ and the Christening Gown

Now that Christmas Day has come and gone (though we know the Christmas season continues until Sunday), it is time in the part of my brain that needs to plan things, to start thinking about Faith's Baptism.  I am so excited about this day, which will be Sunday, Feb. 21st, which turns out to be the 2 year anniversary of our very FIRST meeting with CAWLI (the adoption agency).  A pretty neat date connection (I AM ridiculously into date connections!!).   The only better date would have been her birthday (the made up one given to her in China) , which is January 10th.  That date would be very cool to be baptized on, as it is the day that the Church celebrates the Baptism of the Lord!!

So the planning has begun, step one which actually began 2 years ago when we started this process was choosing Godparents.  That has to be one of the toughest decisions you make for you child, the decision is a lifetime commitment, and with so many faithful people in our life choosing 2 was hard.  Well, the godmother wasn't because I knew right away I wanted my 'second' sister, my cousin Heather.  Which brings me today's story... step two, shopping for the Christening gown.

Taking advantage of Christmas time off,  Heather, Faith and I met in Quincy/Braintree for lunch and a festive shopping trip.  Not familiar with the area, I did some internet research, found a dress shop that looked perfect  -- had christening and flower girl dresses, and a large selection.  It was called GRANDASIA, which until I saw the sign and the Chinese silk dresses in the window didn't realize the name is GRAND... ASIA...  I was thinking flower (don't ask - my brain is a complex and often confused place).  The trusty Tom-Tom brings us right to the door, there was a beautiful pull through parking place on the street (yeah, never mastered that parallel parking thing!!)   Its cold, although we were happy the rain had stopped during our lunch.  I gather Faith out of the carseat, and off we hustle to the store, which from a distance looks awfully dark inside.  It looked dark upclose as well, as is commonplace with adults with AD/HD, I forgot to check out minute details such as HOURS OF OPERATION!!!

We hustle (its cold remember, and I was fond of the 70s) back to the van, and start tapping away on the blackberry and Tom-Tom looking for other dress shops in the area.  We are on mainstreet Quincy - there has to be someplace else we can go -- I SO wanted to find Faith's dress with her Godmother present!! I begin to pray (I know big shock!!), and Heather finds 2 viable options we plug them into ole' Tom and off we go.  We are unable to locate the places listed - oh wait, we did find one it was closed (permanently - hate this economy).  In our travels around and around Hancock street (think Chevy Chase in Lapoon's vacation, "Look kids Big Ben, Parliment") we see this small shop, Simply Barbara's.  On the wall, what looks like a sleu of little white dresses.   I suggest we call and see if they are opened (before I attempt more on street parking, and another the squid wrestling).  The woman that answers the phone, hesitates are our questions of whether they sell flower girl dresses, and if they are open - but relents that they are open, and off we go.

THIS Is when Christ appears ... see long story short, the boutique was actually closed, but something told her that we needed help, and to open for us.  She asked me fairly quickly in our visit if I was Christian (though I have to confess with her heavy which I think was Nigerian accent, and my befuddled state thought she was asking me if my name was Kristen, which would be my sister but in hindsight how would SHE know my sister's name).  Anyway, Heather, a very level headed and highly intelligent young lady, politely cleared up the confusion for her elderly cousin - and I very enthusiastically answered, "YES, OH yes!! Very Christian!!"  At which point I see behind her a framed bible verse, realize it is Gospel music playing in the background, and on the floor beneath the dresses is an icon of the Holy Family.  Of course, of course God you are still watching over Faith -- even the seamstress could see that, without knowing any of the story, she just smiled down at Faith commenting on how Christ was certainly with this little girl.   It was a chill filling, head shaking, OH MY Goodness this is amazing, kind of experience!! 

She reminded us that the bible tells us to speak His name always and often, that we are here to serve Him, and that she has seen and done things that would amaze us, that her shop was far more than making dresses for important occasions.  Evident further by her response to her children who came into the shop sometime after us, and perplexed asked their mother, 'Arent' you closed."  She just smiled and responded, "They needed me."   Imagine this world, if we all put our agenda aside, our own needs and plans aside, and had the attitude, "I changed what I wanted to do , because they needed me."

She was so amazing with Faith, gentle, kind, I truly felt in the presence of one of Christ's disciples (which she had called herself).  We fell in love with the second dress we saw, and first she put on, like a bride, you know its the right one when everyone in the store is crying!  My mind is such at ease that she will do wonderfully fitting the squid, and that her prayers will be added to ours as another person is initiated into God's family!   I think Barbara said it best at the end of our visit, "God is real, God is with us, and God is among us, He is in everything"  Amen, my new Christian friend... Amen!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A new day

I'm a big fan of adages  -- mine for today is, "What a difference a day makes"!  Faith and I had such a great day.  We started the day with more shots, poor kid, there should be just one more round, and then she ages out of needing the last set...small positive there.  She was so good, cooperative, doesn't cry -- makes the 'scrunch' face of disgust she seems to have perfected, and that I find cute now that it isn't directed at me!    I do find her perchance for pain a bit disturbing ,and definitely something to monitor!

Then it was off to BJs Wholesale club to finish our Christmas shopping, she is a great shopping companion!  She helps me disinfect the carriage with "magic soap" aka hand sanitizer.  She never asks for something, and not because she doesn't have the words, because believe me she has NO problem making wants known!!  She is content to hold whatever is next to go in the carriage, or my cell phone, which SHE has figured out how to lock and so she's not calling friends back in China on me as I shop!

OH and the best news of today -- not really, but if you've been following the battle of the ponytails, you'll know why this is so exciting!  I went to a cookie swap with some great veteran GIRL moms!  They told me about these little elastics (pretty much one time use), that really hang onto the hair, making removal nearly impossible!   They are my gift this Christmas because FINALLY after 6 weeks, we have pigtails (mom's favorite) that are NOT pulled out as soon as I finish them, actually not pulled out at all!  Plus now that she's lost that battle she has stopped pulling out barretts and off hats too - wonderful stuff!!

After coming home from a loooonnnng  shopping trip!!  Man I love that place, I could just wander up and down the isles all day!!  We had a nice lunch together - she has really taken a liking to Italian food (well what is originally Italian, when I get done with it - most Italians would not take credit for it!!)  Last night she scoffed down Tortellini's (aka belly-buttons) in chicken broth ( I love when she picks up the bowl with one hand, and scoops the liquid with the spoon into her mouth -- it is an adorable cultural thing that I hope she never loses!!) , for lunch its was cheese ravoli with sauce (how come every time I dress her in white I feed her red sauce!! She was fine, that Tink bib does wonders!!)

Now brings me to the reason I blogged, it was during yesterday's lunch that I realized how much she doesn't know, and how challenging it will be to teach her abstract thoughts, and the day continued to be a difficult day of frustrations and miscommunications.  Today, was a brand new day - and I believe it to be a product of spending my day (no not whining and moping, as my post and FB status would suggest) but in praying.  Every spare moment I had, I offered my thoughts and frustrations heavenward - seeking intercession from St. Therese (whom I learned in the movie of her life was homeschooled-- sweet!), and St. Francis de Sales (patron of the deaf), and of course our Lady.  Just gave over my insecurities, my inabilities, and my grumpiness!!  The bible says, Ask and you shall receive.  I know I have to cooperate with the spirit, but do feel today that I have been given a renewed hope and peace.

Evident in our lunch - we had a great little conversation (showing me that you don't always need words to convey feeling), and then we colored and practiced her name.  The best was just before nap, she sat on my lap with the same book I struggled yesterday afternoon to read/sign with her.  Yesterday, she tried turning to the end of the book with every page, she wouldn't look at me, or copy any of the signs, she was distant and distracted, my heart was so heavy and filled with doubt (are you sure God I have the talents and patience to be her teacher, are you sure??)  Today -- she sat and looked not only through that book but 2 others, turning pages one by one, trying to copy the signs, and turning to smile at me periodically.  A gift, these small moments, these ones I took for granted with the boys, are so poignant when they are proceeded by frustration and doubt.  

I am grateful as alwasy for God's faithfulness to keep me prayerful in this journey.   When I arrived home, I was spiritually exhausted.  My bible reading dropped off, Mass addiction (either going in person or watching EWTN - love those priests!) had waned considerally, Divine Mercy devotion sporadic ... I had slipped from the mountain top to a lull -- more a plateau then a valley -- nothing bad was happening that I usually associate with the valley of spiritual growth, but nothing good either.  I was just existing, putting out the daily fires, going through the motions.  It certainly didn't help that the holidays kicked right in, which are just not a historically easy time emotionally for me.  I had shut down, I doubt I am alone in any of these feelings, I am sure you've all been there.  In the past, I would have allowed the world to continue to swallow me up, and draw further and further away from God and my faith -- and this is what I am so grateful for today , that I don't.  That He accepts even my smallest or shortest prayers, and sees that my heart still longs for Him, and He never leaves, or gives up... and with every drawing near , He draws near.   The JOY of the LORD is my strength, even when I don't have the strength to see that...I pray that you too will find your JOY in the Lord especially during the celebration of His Son's birth.  Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


This afternoon while Faith and I enjoyed a quiet lunch together, I was struck by just how quiet life can be sometimes.  The soft ticking of the clock and hum of the refridgerator was all I heard, while I know her lunch was even quieter.   As I look at her precious little face, I am struck that we are definitely not signing to her as often as we should - limiting it to direct needs or commands.  As I had just finished reciting the prayer before meals, I try to sign it now with her, but her random signing back to me shows that while making progress memorizing signs, the meanings are still lost to her.  

We've seen a lot of this, just a random barrage of signs when she is trying to convey something to us - she signs Faith, please, bed, finished, daddy, potty, all in a string, hoping that one of these silly things people keep doing in her face with their hands will get them to jump up and help her with whatever the present need is.  Kevin complained, rightly so yesterday, that all we seem to be saying to her lately is "No".  Although  I wholeheartedly agree and would love to be more positive in my communications especially around things that are dangerous, I am finding it much easier to tell someone NO to what they are doing, then explaining BEFORE they do it, that it isn't something they can do!  Think that sentence is confusing, try being a non-english speaking 3 year old trying to explore your environment with overprotective English-speaking, hearing parents who are constantly shadowing you and redirecting you from all that looks fun.  We tell her yes, but it seems those things are not quite as intriguing as the 'no' areas -- stove, buttons on the dishwasher, my camera, the portable phones that get left all around the house, outlets, stairs, toilets... the typical toddler stuff of interest.

The area of real frustration for me however is in communicating things of deeper meaning.  For instance, today I was really sad about something (not that I would discuss the problem with a 3 year old) but what I would have loved to have shared, was how I turned to the bible for guidance, and opened right to a passage that answered me in the exact way I needed.  Let me note it was NOT what I wanted God to say, I was looking for a "yeah don't sweat it, you can ignore it" but what I got was "you can do this with my help, it is not for you to judge but to do according to my Will".   Augh, I hate those answers, those are the ones that make us more like God, and less like our pitiful human selves, and although the grow us spiritually always come with a little discomfort or sacrafice on our part -- but alas I digress.   I wanted to share what an amazing and loving Father in Heaven we have, and that it had made Mommy' sad change to glad. I have to admit I did sign it all to her, the best I could, and received back a barrage of random signs -- cute but didn't really instill confidence that I am getting through.

The next moment I was back to the 'nos'  -- or the 'don'ts' in this case.  Gently trying to teach that we don't stick the opposite end of the spoon in our eyes, nose or mouth.  That napkins are for wiping our hands and mouths, not the cheesy spoon.  That we need to chew the food in our mouth, not suck on it like chewing tobacco ( a new habit we are perplexed by but working through as we realize these are all new textures and tastes).   The time will come when I can share with her the wonder of the snow on the ground, the beating of my heart for her and for my Lord, and can explain all the yesses in the world!

Although this all saddens me, but I am quickly reminded its only been 6 weeks, that time will prove this all different, just as it did with our connecting back in China.  I pray that her language acquisition comes as quickly as her love acquisition did !!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Waiting for Faith

This was first posted on Facebook, but realizing not all the blog followers have FB, I decided to post it here too.  I am hoping to start blogging the back story - the how we got to this point, which was filled with so many Godcidences , that if I DIDN'T believe in God before this journey, I'd be hard pressed not to now!!!  God directed throughout  (and of course, still) ... this was a very powerful night of prayer and communication with God, I pray it blesses you as well!!

Patience is defined by dictionary.com as an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay. Christian definitions include ideas of letting go of our own plan and leaving God in control, its an act of love, and fruit of living in the Holy Spirit of God. it’s a virtue, because it is a very valuable personality characteristic. One I have discovered is of utmost necessity when adopting from a foreign country. The other virtue of importance is that of faith. Faith is defined in the Catholic Catechism a theological virtue by which we believe in God and we believe all that he has said and revealed to us. This week has been filled with more practice in these than ever before in my life, alas practice makes perfect.

The next leg of our journey to Faith, began on Monday night (very late Monday night). I began to feel an overwhelming sense of fear and dread. I ventured into Faith’s bedroom, whose door I keep closed most of the time because its hard to see it empty. Suddenly I was just overcome with emotion, I dropped to my knees on the side of her bed and began to sob. The type of sobs that come from so deep within you , they almost produce fear on their own, because they are raw, and uncontrollable - but very healing. I cried out to the Lord all my fears. “Are you sure God that we are the family to do this work? I am filled with anxiety about travel, and being able to console this nearly 4 year old being ripped from the only world she knows, with no way of communicating the plan.” The words spilled from my heart, the deep fears I’ve been fighting, hiding, holding on to. I could no longer bear it alone, and I gave them all to God -- just as Jesus instructs us in Matthew 11: 28 - 30:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Feeling indeed unburdened by this moment, I headed into the kitchen to prepare the boys assignments for the next day. God in his ultimate love and compassion places before me three signs that bring more light to my heavy spirit. First, the notepad I grab, from a tin of at least 6 notepads is adorned with a giant beautiful butterfly. I had been seeing a butterfly as a sign of hope, daily, since an intense prayer session about 2 weeks earlier. You see, butterflies are deaf, just as is my daughter, and it is a beautiful symbol to remind me of her, and the loving arms both of are held in each day as we wait to be united.

Second, as I calculate which saint my son was to read about the next day, I turn to St. Don Bosco in his book. He happens to be one of my favorite saints because of his devotion to Mary, love of confession, and heart for children in need. The quote for the day on Don Bosco’s page, “Please pray today for all the children with no homes and no families.”

Third, as I’m placing the books on the counter for the morning, I glance at our scriptural flipchart that sits under the Sacred Heart of Jesus icon. It had been flipped to Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths. You are great at putting your trust in God. Keep following him and you will be amazed at what he does.

A warmth filled my being, the one that comes with peace knowing you are not alone, and that God is not only hearing you but reaching out to answer. This verse has been very prominent in the adoption process, emerging last July, when a friend gave me a huge plaque with the word TRUST on it, and the first line of the verse. She creates these with people’s life verses on them, and said she felt inspired to create it for me. To be honest, at first I was disappointed, as I had always counted Gal 2:20 (It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me), as my life verse. It was so beautiful, and being a prayerful person, I knew that indeed God had wanted this for me and that within time it would be revealed. Faithfully it has, over and over again, and always JUST when I need to be reminded that a life of faith, is also a life of trust in the one who created me, wants only good for me, and loves me immeasurably.

Although comforted by these signs, I knew God had more to share. I felt a very strong desire to sit quietly with his word. On many occasions before God has spoken light and love into my heart through the reading of scripture. I searched for one of my 7 bibles, but I had cleaned that day, and they were all tucked away on shelves, in bible study bags, or upstairs with my sleeping husband. The one book left out was St. Maria Faustina’s diary. As I looked down at it, I was reminded of a conversation I had with my husband the day before when he revealed that even Sr. Faustina had experienced moments of fear. Early this summer I had begun a devotion to the Divine Mercy (the prayer given to us by Jesus through his conversations with Sr. Faustina), praying the chaplet everyday at 3 o’clock. Inspired, I grabbed the book and returned to Faith’s bedroom.

I sat in the near dark on her floor, and prayed over the book. Lord, I asked, lead me to where she writes about her fear so that I may learn from her experience. I opened the book, but was first lead to day six of the Divine Mercy novena. Here Jesus states:

Today bring to Me the meek and humble souls and the souls of the little children, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls most closely resemble My Heart. They strengthened Me during My bitter agony. I saw them as earthly Angles, who would keep vigil at My altars. I pour out upon them whole torrents of grace. Only the humble soul I able to receive My grace. I favor humble souls with My confidence.

Sr. Faustina enters into her journal about learning from Jesus. I thought about the scripture readings where the little children are brought to Jesus, and we are counseled to have faith like a child. I thought about Jesus love for Faith, and the grace he had and will continue to pour over her during this transition in her own life. My heart longed to be humble and meek, and I prayed for forgiveness of my sins and for a blessing of grace to understand and accept God’s plan without fear.

Once more, I prayed asking to be lead to the page in this nearly 700 page book where Sr. Faustina shares with Jesus her fear. I opened the book to page 345, the diary entry for January 14, 1937 where Jesus first words to her are, “My daughter, why are you giving in to thoughts of fear?” Tears flowed down my cheeks, I put the book aside, and laid prostrate on the floor praising and thanking God for this gift (even though I had not read another word yet, I KNEW I was enveloped in his loving embrace and would soon be counseled by Jesus himself). Excitedly I returned to the book and read on.

Sr. Faustina wrote, “O Lord, You know why. This work frightens me. You know that I am incapable of carrying it out.” Jesus presses, asking again, “Why?” At which point, she much like I had done an hour before spills it all out. I am going to add what thoughts were racing through my head in brackets as I read her words.

You see very well that I am not in good health [for me, it’s an ongoing struggle with anxiety], that I have no education [for me, I thought of the doubts that come when I am challenged on whether I can teach a deaf child language.], that I have no money [self explanatory], that I am an abyss of misery [see early part of story when I knelt in the same spot wailing just moments before], that I fear contacts with people [for me, I thought of my absolute obsession with avoiding the piggy flu, and my sometimes consuming worry about the consequences if we can not].

It is Jesus’ reply that is PRICELESS!!! There was no doubt as I read, that he was talking directly to me, and once again I will interject my thoughts as I read with brackets.

My daughter, what you have said is true. You are very miserable [way to console me gently], and it pleased Me to carry out this work of mercy precisely through you [are you ready for this] -- who are nothing but misery itself. [Yes, by now I am wholeheartedly humbled. Which is perfect because now I am open to God’s perfect plan, and to receive the peace and strength he is trying to send me, that up to now I had been rejecting out of fear and doubt.] DO NOT FEAR; I will not leave you alone. [Thank you, Jesus]. Do whatever you can in this matter; I will accomplish everything that is lacking in you. You know what is within your power to do; do that.

Here in the last few sentences was the instruction I so desperately needed. As well as the assurance that I am not capable of doing this, that without God it is impossible, but that HE will bring to completion the good work he has begun. That I will be equipped with all I need according to what is needed, and I don’t even have to think about the unknown in this situation but only what is in my power. So I laid against the wall, eyes to the heavens and pondered what in this situation was within my power. Praying and preparing -- so that is what I resolved to do.

A scary moment in Wuhan

I've been meaning to blog this event from our trip that we intentionally left out while there as to not worry our parents back home.  One of the scariest moments for us in China came on day 2 of having custody of Faith.  We had put her down for a nap, but had forgotten to put on a pull up.  Like is very common in 3 year olds, she wet the bed during her nap.  It was a soaker - who'd a thought such a little person held so much urine!!  We had no choice but to call housekeeping to come change the sheets.  Now what transpired next SHOULD have been the scariest part of this story, but unfortunately, it got worse.  The housekeeper ( a sweet looking and tiny little man/boy) came with a new duvet cover for our comforter.  See hotels in china don't have top sheets or blankets, just a nice cozy comforter with a fresh (you pray) duvet cover...perfect choose for the warm climate we were visiting!  Anyway, he FLIPS THE very large comforter to put the PEE part at the foot of the bed, and puts on the new duvet. YUP - leaves the comforter -- I have heard pee is sterile, and I had to keep with that thought or else I'd never get back into that or any other bed in China ever again!!!  Luckily it was the middle, and her little legs didn't reach down there anyway.

As he is changing the sheets, Faith is sitting in Daddy's lap in a chair next to the bed.  She has woken up wet, and I am sure each time she first woke and realized this wasn't a dream that she wasn't in Kansas anymore, and these 2 strange looking, smelling, smiling people were still there, and the family she'd known for 3 years was no where to be seen!  So each nap was followed by lots of tears, and cuddles(with daddy), which seemed to bring back calm quickly, however this day I WAS the one to remove her from bed, which she took GREAT exception too, and then had to stripe her down (which brought shivers like I'd never seen before - the a/c that hadn't worked since we arrived finally decided to blow frigid air into the room, and on top of that -- you ever wake from a nice warm cozy nap and just can't get warm!!), anyway, these 2 strikes lead to a MAJOR meltdown by Ms. FengHua.  She was a wreck, as she had a runny nose when we got her, the crying had lead to a coughing fit, runny nose, and all around mess of a child now nestled on Daddy's lap.

The Chamberdude finished his work, and turned with a jerk ... oh sorry, got wrapped up in the Christmas spirit for a minute there.  A few moments later, the phone rings and its the front desk.  Read this in your best very thick Chinese accent, "Hello, your child is sick?  She have fever?  You need help, thermometer, we get you to hospital?"  WHAT!!!! WHOA THERE LITTLE FELLA!!  WHAT??  My mind couldn't gather quick enough, now I"M the one shivering uncontrollably as the fear rolls over my body.  We had been traveling at the height of the H1N1 scare, we had to pass heat sensors in the airports to enter the country,  the news ran tons of stories about quarantined tourists,  everyone around us was wearing masks -- and now the front desk of a hotel in a communist country is asking me if my chid is sick!  No, God no... this can't be happening.  I quickly explain that she hates me (no seriously that is what I said in my panic!!), that she was mad that I touched her, which made her cry hysterically, and that is why she looked so horrendous.  NOT sick, I said, UPSET...you know, crying, makes her look like that, not sick, really she's not sick.  Oh Yeah, Perry Mason has nothing on my slick speaking skills!!

He apologizes profusely, and hangs up.  I IMMEDIATELY (do not pass go, do not collect $200) call our Chinese Guide, I'm talking even faster than I normally talk - which is probably breaking land speed records at this point.  I implore her to call the front desk, make sure they are clear that our child is healthy (which I have to confess wasn't 100% the truth, they had given her to us with a slight fever and runny nose, but a little motrin later she wasn't sick no more!!).  While ON the phone I'm shoving Children's Motrin at Kevin to force into Faith - just in case they show up at the door with a thermometer.  OH I had visions of armed military at my door, escorting us to the nearest H1N1 invested Emergency room -- nope, not over active imagination here!!  She is assuring me its ok, probably just a misunderstanding, no one was going to come banging the door down forcing temps to be taken.

I hang up ,and look at the clock its 3 p.m. - the divine mercy hour!  HOW perfect...for I believe as Sr. Faustina relayed, that Jesus will grant whatever you ask during this time, as long as its not against His Father's holy will.  I also realize that at some point in my phone conversations, I have ended up on my knees beside the bed.  In the best position to pray, I make my request to Jesus, praying it is His Father's will that this be ok, without ER trips, or investigations.  I pray the chaplet, and make a few more PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE Lord make this ok!!   The phone rings ... it is our guide.  She tells us that the front desk manager is extremely embarassed by his mistake, that the housekeeper had been mistaken, and that they truly were just calling to see if they could help, not condemn us.  It is a 5 star, swanky hotel after all - they want to make sure their patrons are well taken care of... I have to say , until the waiter brought room service, and was able to observe Faith -happy, healthy and snot free!!  I could not relax (and ordered a nice Corona as relaxation insurance)!!

This story speaks to me on a few levels.  First, how much I take my freedom for granted.  How truly unaware I was of what it means to live in a democratic, free, society.  Where my child can be ill, and all I have to worry about is getting them better, not whether I will be forced into seclusion because of it, or told what treatment they will be given.  Second, how truly covered in prayer and God's divine mercy this trip was!  How many big events in this trip happened during the 3 o'clock hour, which I didn't realize until going back through my journal.  Here is just a few -- one of our most horrible turbulent flights (since it was that hour I was so comforted and at peace, so NOT like me!!),  the swearing in ceremony (when we didn't know until we got there if the passport issue was going to bar us from participating and completing this step with the rest of our group, which would have delayed our returning home as well), and one of those cab rides for H E double hockey sticks!!  That God would put this devotion on my heart this year, and so powerfully, providing that extra stength (grace) so I would be well equipped to deal with things, I'm not typically well equipped to deal with , is just more evidence of the existence of a loving, merciful, faithful God  - unseen but present, without a doubt present!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Our First month

Tomorrow marks our month anniversary of arriving back in America with Faith FengHua.  A month that feels like a lifetime, so cliche but honestly I feel like she has been with us since her birth, minus the extra stretch marks!! 

Mornings are by far my favorite time, especially on bath day.  I can see why she has warmed to me, I'd like me too if I were her.  Let's see, we cuddle her awake, then we get her breakfast - typically drinkable yogurt and fruit.  She sits on my lap to eat, on my livingroom furniture, hmmm yeah she's spoiled, I don't even like when Kevin does that... well not the lap part, that would be painful.  When its bath day , it is more like Faith's spa day!!  She is bathed in a tempid bath, with lots of bubbles, toys and love.  She gets a massage, a constant stream of water to keep her warm, and lots of fun!  She is cuddled dry - LOVE the ducky and princess towels with the hoods, so cute!   Then she is smathered in baby lotion, poor thing this forced hot air, dry winter air is not kind to her delicate skin... more massaging, and giggles, and bonding!  I love, absolutely LOVE heading to the drawers each day for the cute outfits! The sea of pink and purple just send me to the moon of glee!!  IF there were such a place, that is where I'd live during morning time!!  Off to blow dry, though we are still fighting the pigtails and barretts, we do enjoy a nice styling session , we are working on creating some body over the flat spot.  She needs a hair cut but I am not sure if we are ready to tramatize a hairdresser for that yet :)))

It is amazing how good she is during the boys morning lesson time.  We sit her at the table with us, she gets alternating things to do that seem to really make her happy, and of course, are highly educational !!  She loves coloring, stickers, playdoh, and building blocks.  We also feed her to buy us a little extra time, she is a big fan of goldfish.  I just love watching little kids feed themselves, the little fingers deftly picking up fishes and JAMMING them in there mouths!!  Oh wait, that is every member of this family!!
Faith is doing very well with her signing, and I have to remind myself often that its only been a month, when I get a little frustrated that she doesn't know more (that is how well things are going I really forgot the small amount of time we've had her).  Her receptive vocabulary is amazing - she understands (and is even starting to sign most of these words in addition to potty and kiss):  sorry, please, thank you, poop (yes poop I gotta know what she is or needs to do right!), sleep, bed, slippers, shoes, clothes, doll...well you get the picture, all of our signing vocabulary is exploding!!  Now to learn how to string them together -- in all due time!!

She has been so gracious with all the guests, we are excepting visitors now, please feel free to call or email if you would like to meet her majesty.  We especially like guests who bring dinner ... hee hee Just kidding (though we won't turn away pizza carrying visitors!!).  She has warmed to all our friends and family, going to most who put out their hands to her, especially if they are near a light switch or any object she'd like to play with (of particular interest anything she ISN'T suppose to have!!)  Faith is learning how to play with other children, still choosing to hoard whatever toys are placed for them to share, but then completely blowing us away by offering the toy to the other child so gently and sweetly.  She does a little tilt of her head, looks them in the face, and pokes the toy at them.  OH we've also learned how to sign cute and funny, as we've needed those 2 words with her a great deal!! 

The Advent season has been extra special with her in our lives.   The lights thrill her, the decorations amuse her, and we pray somehow we are helping her start to discover the true meaning of the season with a child's play nativity.  Concrete thoughts we can teach - we point and sign, but this one, this love of God, this needs to come from His Holy Spirit, and we do trust He has already put it in her heart, and continue to pray for it to take hold and blossom in the days and years ahead.  We look forward to her Christening on Feb 21st, we are so blessed that our Pastor has agreed to do a Mass, and for it to be just a celebration of her initiation into our Catholic Christian faith.   It was a hard decision to wait until after the holidays, but when we saw that the best date was Feb. 21st, and realized it is the 2 year anniversary of our first meeting at the Adoption Agency it seemed the perfect fit (just another awesome Godcidence) in this journey of Faith!!

I am going to start blogging the back story  -  of how we got to this point.  The story is so amazing, that I am still in awe that God allowed me to be a part ... IF I didn't believe in God before we started our adoption story, I certainly would be now!!  We pray it blesses all who read it ... as much as it has blessed us!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


We took Faith to the audiologist in Boston yesterday.  Woke up at 6:00am, drove in 50 minutes (since I forgot to get in the HOV lane, oops), sat for 20 minutes to go to a 15 minute appointment where they resolved nothing.  Yes, she's deaf, we kind of knew that.

Hopefully we will get some good leads and we did setup another appointment for January where they will put her to sleep and do a real test of her hearing testing all tones/frequencies or whatever else they do.

Then we took Ian on his birthday journey to Jordan's Furniture for a new mattress/tv deal.  We also went to the Enchanted Village.  It was packed for a weekday but worth the wait.  I loved it when the fake snow kicked in, Faith thought that was cool, her reaction to it was cool, so excited she didn't know how to deal with it!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Who knew I would ever have to do this!

Ok, so Faith is home and adjusting well.  All blood work came back normal so that was good.  Now to the bad.  We needed stool samples to check for any internal parasites.  On Monday Allison ran out for a quick errand.  Faith decide now was the time to provide said sample.

Of course I consider myself a guy with a tough stomach, I worked in a cemetery for 7+ years, I've gutted fish, I thought this whole stool thing would be a walk in the park.  No such luck!  After nearly tossing the lunch monkey trying to put it in the vial I called Allison.  God is good, she was near home and about to pull in the driveway.  Crisis avoided, I kept my lunch and Allison took care of it.

Stool sample take two.  Apparently they need another one two days later.  Well, ok, I'm at work so Allison will take care of it.  No such luck, Faith decided to hold her grunties and booms until I got home from work and also waited for Allison to head out for an event at St. Thomas.  This time it was AJ to the rescue!  He took care of it for me and I managed to hang on to dinner and lunch of Wednesday!

The things you have to go through! Humility was a gift well presented to me this week when I realized when it comes to "samples" I'm a big wussy.

I wasn't going to share this but figured we are sharing everything so this is indeed a part of the whole China adoption experience.

Thanks for taking part in this with us!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

First Holidays

Faith's first Thanksgiving was very nice.  We started the day by dressing her up in a new dress (thanks Karen C), black tights and black shiny shoes -- Kevin and I both got choked up when she toddled away from us.   She even left her barretts in until we got to church.  She was well behaved in Church, until Fr. Joe mentioned her during the Prayer of the Faithful, and she as if she KNEW, decided to be a nutcase, grabbing my glasses, wiggling around like the squid she is :)   Attending Mass on Thanksgiving has been a long standing tradition, and it felt wonderful to be able to continue it with our newest member.  There was so much to thank God for this year - being home, being safe, being with Faith, His blessings in 2009 were definitely more than a 1/2 hour mass could hold!!!

It really is still amazing beyond words how well she is adjusting to her new life.  She was  like a princess at Kevin's aunt's house - being doted on all day long.  She was entertaining, sweet, a LITTLE crazy as she got tired (no nap), but all in all, a delight.  We are so lucky that even if she misses her nap, she gets a little more rambuticous but doesn't melt down.  Last night, she feel asleep on the way home and actually stayed asleep until the morning.   It was so sweet, to see her nestled between her 2 big brothers for the ride to Fitchburg - it seemed so appropriate that we'd be back there for this Thanksgiving.  It was 2 years ago at Thanksgiving dinner, that Ian let slip that we were adopting!!

Today began our first Christmas season with Faith.  We put up our Christmas tree, she was napping, when we brought the tree down from the attic (yes we do the fake one, I like it up from the day after thanksgiving to the Epiphany!!).  She was so funny pointing at this TREE in the middle of our livingroom.  Even when she was playing, she'd stop now and then, and looking behind the couch, at that TREE thing in the middle of the room -- at this point it had no lights or decorations.  Kevin had to run to Big Lots to replace some lights, so while we waited Faith and I had chocolate chip cookies...No silly not homemade -- slice and bake -- nothing better :))

There is nothing like the face of a child eating their first fresh from the oven, HOT, gooey chocolate chip cookie.  We sat on the floor together, just inches apart, sharing this very special girl moment!!  Her face was priceless - a grin that filled her whole face, and she kept signing 'Yummy', rubbing her belly and smacking her lips together lol!!   She even 'toasted' me with her cookie - it was one of those moments I dreamt about having with my daughter!!  Someday we'll actually MAKE the cookies together, baby steps.   While we waited for the men to return, I brought out THIS HUGE box of board books I found in the basement today (we cleaned the basement - yeah!! I LOVE holiday cleaning!!) -- the teacher in me got excited to sit and look through book after book, beginning that language explosion that I know is just lurking below the surface.  yeah, well not so much --- Faith is definitely a girl with a mind and agenda all her own!!   She lined them all up, covering most of the floor, meticulously and busily placing them end to end.  I love that every day has a new discovery for her, and for us who are watching her!!

Finally the boys returned from the store, and Kevin strung the lights. She climbed on the couch to get a closer look, she leaned against the back, face in her hands, and watched mesmerized!!  We then took a break from decorating to eat Kale soup (she is still not a portagee -- no go on the linguica or kale lol).

After dinner, the ornament hanging began.  We have a tradition of mom unwrapping or opening each ornament, and then together we tell the story of where it came from, and any back story that goes with the ornament.  Our tradition had a little twist this year, a very EAGER helping beaver, who sadly wasn't hearing the stories, and just wanted to get the little pretty shiny thing on the light tree in the middle of her livingroom!!   We still managed to get each story out, but MUCH quicker than previous years (ha ha).  I was hesitant at first to let her handle the ornaments, not so much because they might break, but that once she new they were 'touchable, we might spend the next month wrestling them out of her paws.  The quick learner, realized they were to go on, and that no one was taking them back off.  She was totally bummed when the decorating was over, and when she saw me hanging the candy canes, flew over to help not happy until she had one in each hand -- wait til she finds out those are FOOD too, and REALLY yummy!

Tomorrow we are off to the Christmas store in Abington, we are so excited to see her reactions to everything about the holidays.  In the next few weeks, we'll be taking her to LaSallette, to see the lights, and to continue our exposure to Christianity, and all the wonders that knowing and loving God holds for her.  We know that at 3, most children are unaware of Christmas is more than presents, lights and decorations, and sugary treats.  Heck, there are adults out there who still don't realize its more than those things - we know that all we can do is continue to cover all that this journey is in prayer!!  Knowing that every day, every year will hold more firsts, and we can't expect all things to be revealed and clear overnight.   Its the same as watching her line up books instead of read them, each day is filled with firsts, discoveries, and LOTS of surprises!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Things I'd love to know...

I'd love to know how Faith feels about her new family and life.  I would love to get into that beautiful little head and know what she is thinking and feeling.  On the outside, she seems pretty darn good!  It is just amazing, I know I say that in every blog, but truly it is!!   She has warmed up to every new visitor she has had, I believe going to each one who has extended their arms to her.  She's even cuddled a few of them, almost instinctively knowing that these strangers are now family. 

One of the first days back was very warm, so Kevin and I took her for a walk in her cool new stroller - it is a Jeep (like Kevin's car), and has a steering wheel - she was so funny driving all over her new town.  As the sun shone brightly, REALLY brightly compared to the muted smog filled world she came from, I couldn't help but wonder, what does she think of this big yellow orb thing that is making her squint, or warming her face.  I wondered what she thought of these tiny buildings, aka single family homes, something I am fairly sure she'd never seen before, and what about stripes of no houses or buildings at all - just trees as far as the eye can see.  Air you can breath, sun you can see, and crisp cool air - what was running through her mind at such things.

I was so worried about her being nearly 4 years old, and all the firsts we would miss.  A friend who had also adopted an older child, reminded me that there was still many firsts to come, that everything would be a first to us - first time sleeping in her own bed (check), first american holiday (we'll check than one off tomorrow), first time driving in a car with a seat belt ( check), first time peeing into a cup at the doctor's office (happily that was an easier check than expect).   We've loved watching her experience pizza (she eats it upside down, which avoids burning the roof of you mouth off, so we have decided that all those people who told us the girls from Wuhan were cleaver were right on!!).   Monday, she had her first trip to  Walmart  , although they have them in China, we doubt that she was ever brought there.  I did anticipate lots of grabbing and wanting , but she did great - no whining for things, she did reach out for everything we took off the shelves, but quicker caught on that it went in the cart, and would take them from us, and put them in the cart for us!!  She is a big helper - yes, she continues to help with the dishes, absolutely LIGHTS UP when we open the dishwasher!! 

Today, as I got her out of bed, and she cuddled right up into my arms, my ponder of the day was -- how many mornings was she cuddled awake.   How often was there someone there as soon as her eyes opened, and she made the first squeak of the morning.  I know there was no one there signing "Good Morning" and scooping her into there arms for morning squeezes, kisses, and tickles.  She just collapses against us, and spends the next hour trying to get back into our arms or on our laps for more cuddles, kisses and tickles.  How often did someone spend 10 to 15 minutes massaging or itching her back, just letting her lay against them feeling their breathing with hers, the warmth of a mother's love, and the strength of a dad's arms around you.  How often was she bathed with bubbles and toys, and played with until the water was cold, and then wrapped tight in a princess towel and cuddled dry.  And yet, when I hold her, when she lays her head lovingly against my chest, what I think is THANK YOU JESUS for this little girl, thank you for bringing her to ME, thank you for all the joy she brings me!!! 

So much to be thankful for , so much!!   Happy Thanksgiving my dear friends, family and supporters - may you be Blessed beyond Measure today and every day!! 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

To Church we went!

Took the squid to Church probably for the first time in her 3 1/2 year life!  Yeah, Faith was a squid, she kept Ian and I very occupied but still got to hear the readings and the gospel - Christ the King - that was cool.

She's apparently famous there - we were waiting in line for the potty and a guy said "Oh is she the one who just got home from China, congratulations!".

Wonderful Day

It is hard to believe its only been a week since we arrived back home.  Its even harder to believe that its been only 2 weeks or so since we recieved Faith FengHua into our family.  As I drove to Adoration this afternoon, I was just struck with awe at how well she is doing adjusting to her new life.  Children's resilency is mindboggling sometimes.  The Grace that God has lavished on her, is so evident in her happy disposition, and overall acceptance of the new life she has been given.   She has met so many new people in the last few days - and we've been so impressed by how friendly - sincerely giving everyone a chance, no rejecting behavior we initially saw in Wuhan.  different from the little girl who spurned everyone but Kevin (and our adorable Chinese guide in Wuhan).

Today (well now this with be Saturday, which was a day ago, but I literally FELL asleep typing this last night - oh Jet Lag when will we part ways!!)  anyway, it was so much fun, I wanted to share ...
Faith slept in til almost 8 a.m. !!  There is hope yet we'll break her into our sleeping in habits yet (side note: its Sunday 7:30 and princess is STILL asleep and fyi in HER OWN bed!! yeah)!!  She had her usual breakfast of drinkable yogurt, bread, and fruit.  She was very cuddly with Momma this morning, which just warms my heart so much!  As you can well imagine, its amazing after our rocky start.  I am so grateful in the loving wise guidance of the Holy Spirit, providing us insights on building attachments that we'd never have known without Him.   Everyday she and I grow closer and closer, she seems to trust me to provide for her, but moreso to be a source of comfort and love.  I often wonder did she ever have this much attention, physical contact or language before?

After breakfast, I gave her a bath, we've moved into her bathing alone, but with lots of massages, tickles, and Mommy fun interaction - just warmer for me from the sidelines especially for my old body :)   At one point she laid on her belly, propped up her head on her right hand, and just lied there while I rubbed and massaged her back and legs, she is such the queen (as rightly she should be!).  Guess I am catching on to why she is starting to like me - I'd be pretty fond of someone who massaged me several times a day!   We moved to wearing underwear under her pull up, since they are always dry, it is time to give up that safety net - not at night for a while, nothing worse than being awaken in the middle of the night to change a wet kid, wet bed , and wet pjs :)  After our post bath tea party and dress up session (see pic of picassa), it was time to clean the house.

I thought she'd stay behind in her room to play, but nope, she not only wanted to shadow me, she seems to have a real interest in helping me clean -- maybe she figured we'd head back to the playing quicker if she helped :)   She vacuumed, so cute!!  After we finished the actually vacuuming of the room, I turned off the vacuum, thinking I'll outsmart the deaf kid, she'll never know the difference.  Think again Mom!! See she still has other senses, sharpened by the loss of the one -- so first she noticed the LIGHT on the sweeper was OFF, and next it was no longer vibrating her arm, she quickly went to work figuring out how to get it back on - -I believe it took less than 5 minutes!!   However, after figuring out how to turn it on she choose to just stand in the hall holding on the vacuum, but not moving it back and forth , just standing there.  I think proud of herself for figuring out how to turn it out she wanted to bask in her victory, but I guess had done enough cleaning!!

WE also put away the dishes, she was so funny handing me one dish at a time, and just beaming!!   It was nice to have someone down low to pick up the dishes, no bending required, perfect for the sore back (my body is so much older than the rest of me!)   Gaining in age from all the lifting and carrying of our darling cherub who has happily started to put a little meat on her own scrawny boned frame!!  She'll be up past that 15 percentile in no time!! 

Our lives are settling into the new normal, just remarkably faster than I ever expected.  Kevin has returned to work, and activities such as cub scouts with Adam.  I was able to return to my Thursday night  and Saturday afternoon Adoration times -- these are the things I missed the most!   That quiet contemplated time with the Lord, so crucial to continually growing my relationship with Jesus , sure I can pray at home, and KNOW He is always with me, but actually coming into the real presence, of shutting off the world, and giving God an hour or so undivided attention strengthens me for the rest of hours and days ahead!!   Kevin questioned the smoothness of the adjustment, sort of cautious to marvel in how easy it appears to have been or be.  My answer, besides the realization that we have many challenges ahead - I mean some day she WILL be a teenage girl!!  My response though today was to remind us both that this journey has been COVERED in prayer - and the prayers of God's people will not be ignored, there is power in prayer, and where 2 or more are gathered in His Name He will hear and answer... Thank you all our prayer warriors, every joy we share, we SHARE with each of you!! Every smile we are blessed to enjoy, we enjoy with you!   God bless, have an amazing Sunday -- as we venture to Church for the first time , please know you are ALL in our prayers!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Right to work!

She's going to do just fine in our house....cleaning up already and she helps with the dishes too!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Attached well!

Faith now cries when Allison leaves so they are bonded.  Allison has a new shadow now and I think even prefers Allison over me.  Ian and Faith have bonded as well so that's fantastic!

We are still working on her hitting and touching everything even after we sign NO to her several times.  She waits to touch it when she thinks we aren't looking!  Faith knows what "time out" is already! 

On the jet lag front, I got home from work yesterday and took a nap for 1/2 hour and then was ready for a night of Cub Scouts with AJ.  I then was able to get to bed about 9:30-10 after putting Faith to bed and reading on the couch upstairs with AJ.  I was able to sleep through the night after waking up only a couple of times but was able to fall back asleep!  Slept until 5:20 this morning so I'm not dogging it like I was yesterday.  I won't say I have beaten jet lag yet but last night was good!

Still praying that all the other families that adopted are doing great also!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Where we stayed

Here are the places we stayed at while in China (one of the things CAWLI does is put you up in some nice hotels, in walking around and seeing just the outside of some of the other hotels this is a necessity!).

Beijing - Presidential
Google Map

Wuhan - Marco Polo 
Google Map

Guangzhou - The White Swan
Google Map

What's life been like

Its been about a week since we returned home, alas Kevin just left for his first day back to work.  I seriously miss him already, hard to believe 3 weeks together, no fights (couple small bickers but we had promised ourselves that we'd not take out our stress on each other - and through the Grace of our sacrament of marriage, were able to stay true to that promise!!).   I am so grateful for such an amazing marriage!!  and do so wished he worked from home every day !!!  but alas no.. and I'm on my own today!!

So, what have we been up to -- most battling severe jet lag!  The first day it didn't feel so bad, thought we'd somehow escaped the clutches of it, yeah ha - NOT so much!!  What does jet lag feel like -- being stuck in a corn maze.  You get on a roll, when you feel like you are definitely onto something, making progress, almost out of the maze,  when BAM you hit a wall and realize you can't move forward in that direction any longer and either have to rest (aka nap), or turn around and regroup (aka go to bed early and try again tomorrow).  You are also extremely irritable - at least we are!!  And every issue feels like a mountain - when its truly only a molehill - especially if you fix your eyes on Jesus, and let Him carry the burden.  The devil lives within jetlagged brains too I truly believe that, as you are tired and less likely to turn to prayer, and can easily feel defeated or incapable of the new normal you have been given.   Its funny when we were in the midst of the traveling,  the danger, the unfamiliar surroundings, the uncertainty, prayer came so easily and without question.   Back home surrounded by the comforts of our home, family and country, although still praying, we both said this morning that we were surprised at how quickly we returned to the more inward prayer, leaving our newly developed praying together outloud habit behind.  Aware of this, we are vowing to get back on track, I guarantee it will start to turn all the heaviness of the last week around!!

Enough about us, how's Faith doing?  Excellent question - to which there are many answers!!  I will start by answering some of the many questions I've been receiving:
1. Does she laugh?   Yes, she laughs out loud, she has an adorable giggle, it is hysterical and so flippin cute!!

2. Does she like her baths?  YES , when she's not trying to reach for everything she shouldn't be having lol... I have been taking them with her, to continue our bonding process plus its easier to manage her in there with her, she is very floppy and squirmy, so has no muscle tone whatsoever, and just collapses or throws her body around at will... very dangerous for all involved, she is so funny though when she bumps her head or falls down where most kids would CRY, she just cracks up!!  As an aside:  we actually have some concerns in this area -- Dr. Tomase (we went for her check up today) is going to have her see a neurologists, there are some concerns on her coordination and balance as well that is not due to a phsyical issues (as in her legs are the same length, etc). We'll be going to children's , I will be receiving a call from them in a few days to make an appointment - Not sure at all what we are dealing with , if its a past injury or if there is something more progressive going on -- regardless, we won't speculate or get worked up, until testing is complete.  Whatever it is God will guide us through, and we'll do what we need to do!! 

What else does she like?   She enjoys coloring, playing with blocks, the fisher price circus toy, hoarding lol -- today she had every webkin from her room in her arms! Yes we got a picture, I will have Kevin post it later. She does not like tv as they had told us, which was a relief, though some days it would be nice to get a 1/2 hour reprieve to get something done knowing she was duly occupied :))) She LOVES outside, and rides in her stroller, oh and tea parties!

Have you taken her to church or to the grocery store? NO , not yet. Our only public outing was the doctor's office yesterday.  We just got her h1n1 today, I was trying to keep her out of public til then, plus I am keeping her away from other woman until we can forge a deeper bond.  Since she's not been exposed to American germs yet, and I don't feel like dealing with a sick kid, especially Thanksgiving a week away, we are keeping things low key!!  Although I know its been difficult for people to stay away, I am so appreciative of everyone's understanding.  The seclusion though difficult at times on us, has been the absolute right decision on building our mother/daughter relationship.  She now comes to me on her own, sometimes chosing me over daddy.  She allows me to comfort her, like yesterday morning when we did a test run of her waking to no daddy, she cried, but cuddled up to me, and was over it rather quickly.   She even got a little upset when I left to work for a few hours, I would have never anticipated that a week ago!   I think choosing to be her #1 source of all things food, clothes and necessity was the absolute right choice - and the reason behind our successful start to bonding.  It will still be months, maybe even years before we forge a deep bond of true trust and security, but every day we will strive to get closer to that - by meeting her needs in a timely, complete and loving manner. 

 How is she with the potty?   This has been such an interesting transition from squatty potty to western potty - thank YOU Danielle for shlepping to Target for me to get the Dora potty seat - has been our saving grace!! As I mentioned,  she was potty trained in china, but with her split pants, that whole just squatting where you are when you gotta go method (which we discovered first had at a restaurant in Guangzhou when she finished her meal and decided it was time to poo, oh yeah should have seen Kevin run to grab her and whisk her off to the bathroom, pricelss!)   So we are pretty much starting over with the western toilet. She does hold it, and most of her pull ups are completely dry when I take them off, which is great -- I am hoping to move her into undies during the day, and just keep the pull ups for night, but we'll play it by ear.

Has she had her first check-up?   We met with Dr. Tomase yesterday to begin what will be a long journey of doctor's visits, tests, and therapies.  She was only in the 5 % for weight, and 15% for height for her age, funny how BIG the Chinese thought she was - she is a 3T but is usually sporting a plumber bum LOL or the teenage boy sag as my boys refer to it!!   She was very cooperative, squidy, but not nearly the squid of Guangzhou Kevin blogged about.  Her chest extra was normal/negative of TB, yeah!  We wait now for appointments in Boston (Children's Hospital) with an ENT and Neurologist -- will keep you posted.

The sun is rising between the trees, as a nocturnal creature, these mornings have been sort of nice to experience the beauty and splendor of dawn.  God sure has created some amazingly beautiful pastel colors.  I pray your days are filled with beauty and splendor, and look forward to seeing you all in person very soon!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

We are home and adjusting well


As always photos first!  Allison just left to observe for work and Faith wasn't too happy about it, she cried but was consolable.  Also, when Faith woke up Allison was able to calm her down as well without seeing me so when I go to work tomorrow it should be ok.  We shall survive!

Not sure if anybody is even reading this anymore but that's ok, I'm getting bored with us too!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

We are home!

Well we are home and Faith seems to like the boys!

It is now 3:30 on Tuesday.  We got home around 9:30 on Friday.  Boy is jet lag a killer.  I feel like a fish that's been left out on land a bit too long.  I am currently resisting the urge to sleep!  Faith is napping in her bed, she has been sleeping with us at night but napping in her room and doing fairly well with sleep.

Yesterday I napped from about 2:30-5:00 and that was too long of a nap, the nights sleep wasn't great because of it.  Ian woke me up at 5 and it was dark out already, I remained in a fog the entire night!  That's the one thing that's tough about this adoption, nobody talks about getting home and adjusting to a new kid and also adjusting to a 13 hour time difference from China.  Well, now I know.

Signing off for now - one jet lagged Kevin...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Home Sweet Home

As Kevin alluded our trip home was eventful - 26 hours of events to be exact!  We rose nice and early, without an alarm, hmmm think we were eager to get back!!  We had our last made for us breakfast buffet!  I never did venture off from the french toast, fresh fruit, and bacon ritual -- they don't differeniate meals in China - for breakfast they eat the same as for every other meal -- noodles, dim sum (oh I did have a few of those, yummy), potstickers, to name a few things I know the names of!  We checked out, paid for our $10 bottle of water (I only had one the first night before I could find the 7-11).  Then onto the bus, with a prayer over our luggage (as I did ALL MY Christmas shopping, and REALLY wanted it all to make it back so I wouldn't have to shop again !!).

The airports have been such an adventure -- picture this... Each of us with a very heavy backpack, I had a passport holder across my shoulder (learned after our trip in to have those MUCH more readily available and together), then I had a small bag with snacks for Faith (her foster mom had given her a nice assortment from Walmart of favorite crackers and jello shots), then a had a BIG shopping bag filled with all those souveneirs I'd be devasted if lost - like the 12 years of silk outfits I bought her! Then I also was carrying her backpack, and Kevin had, well HER LOL!!  So we were heavily laddened to say the least! My shoulders will never be the same -- note to self -- Chiropractor next week!!

Anyway, at every check point - in China there seems to be a few more than here -- they have health checks (in Beijing we had to walk through heat sensors to make sure we had no fevers!!), at least you get to keep your shoes on that makes live easier, and there are so many people, they have what feels like 10 x more people to serve you, so lines fly!  NOT SO much when we got to San Francisco, esp. Security - though still faster than our wait in Orlando 3 years ago when we were there at Christmas!!  BUT I digress...at every check point we had to unhook all these bags and backpacks, I was striped of my very small hand santizer in China, which really sent me over the edge , as many of you know I"M A germaphobe big time!!  Luckily our new friends gave me a replacement .. somehow their's made it through.  Funny, how much more diligent I was about fighting the germ warfare!!  No more quarantine worries, though being sick would not be good either .. but again I digress.

Our first plane right to Hong Kong was great!  Faith fell asleep taxiing to take off, and slept the entire hour!  Our next flight was 10 1/2 hours from Hong Kong to San Fran ... as Kevin mentioned it was bumpy , at least for the first 2 hours!!  Happily one of those hours was 3 oclock, the divine mercy hour, so I felt so protected - not to mention we had 2 other very prayerful families on the trip with us, and I knew they were praying right along with us!! Where 2 or more are gathered in My name...  One of them also had holy water from Fatima on her, so that was great to bless ourselves ... God knew that trip would be a holy water blessing type of flight!!  Faith was not as pleasant as she had been to HK, one she was awake!  She was a major stinker to me until she did finally fall asleep.  I am not sure if it was because she wanted to play and some attention and I was trying to sleep ( I mean I did give her attention BEFORE this nap thing).  I found myself getting so frustrated by our lack of communication , and the switch that goes off between fun playing and violent behavior - -its a hair trigger and without a place for timeout lol not fun.

When she finally dozed off, and I sat looking at that beautiful face, and pondered how much nearly 4 years what its been through -- abandoned at 9 months old, bonds already formed, then put in a foster home with many children coming and going through 3 years, she hoards thing so she's obviously had to fight for what she needed, now without any way of explaining her life is upside down again - as the tears rolled , I prayed - Lord, Heal this relationship between us, guide me in your holy Spirit to mother her according to what SHE needs and not what I want or dreamt - again God gently reminded me this isn't about me. It is about his plan for Faith's life, and we just get to be the blessed vehicle who is allowing Him to work through us!!  Once again, without deserving it, God had heard and answered, the next flight was magical -- a complete 180!!  A wonderfully sweet young woman changed seats with me so instead of being across the aisle (middle seat) I as able to sit with Kevin and Faith.. GOD Bless that young woman!!

Faith and I had a blast, as Kevin slept --we colored, she discovered stickers - putting them on her face and onto the paper, then back onto her face, she was cracking me up!! We played the hand-stacking game, and she let me tickle and kiss her, we shared a snack, and ventured into the 2 x 2 airport potty together (without her melting down out of the sight of Daddy).  IT was amazing, I just beamed as she held my hand, and all the people flooding to the potty (we were right next to it)  smiled at my daughter, congratulating me  -- LIKE I had anything to do with her beauty, or winning smile!!  I was just honored to call her mine!!  Faith finally feel asleep, and this time, rested her head on my arm!!  Thank you Jesus for the blessing of that flight -- even when it got so bumpy I thought we'd fall out of the sky!!  Again, the bumps came during the divine mercy hour - and I could hear God speaking to my heart, "I will bring to completion the Good work I have begun," giving me confidence, that although the current ride (both real and figurative) was very unsure and unsteady - HE was in control, and we were safely in His hands!!

Oh lunch is here.. Wendy's.. ah been dreaming of this spicy Chicken sandwich. will have to finish in a bit!!

Friday, November 13, 2009


Well we made it home after a very bumpy ride from Hong Kong to California and then again from California to Boston!

I'm off for the night but just wanted to say we made it back!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Last batch of photos from China


Well, that's it my last batch of photos from China!  Bet you were getting sick of looking at them, I know I was getting sick of taking them!  Can't wait until this time tomorrow plus a couple of hours - we will be on the ground in Boston!

Oh, and a funny side story speaking of planes.  That snowstorm in Beijing that delayed us an hour and was a total nightmare for our friends going to other provinces, remember that post a while back?  Well, apparently it was induced by silver nitrate they flew into the clouds.  Lovely no?  Oh well, we got lucky!

Also great news - we have her Visa and Passport IN HAND!  Thank God.

See you all in a little bit - but as Allison says we have to hang low at home with no visitors for her to adjust to her new home and her new brothers!



Throughout the blogs you've probably seen references to butterflies, and wondered if there was a back story to that. Well , just so happens there is an amazing one!!  I've been meaning to share it all trip.  So as FengHua naps, and Kevin returns the stroller a local merchant let us borrow, as well as fetch my clean FOLDED into the smallest pile of clothes you've ever seen laundry, I will share.

We received a call on April 30, 2009, asking how serious were we about accepting a referral for a deaf child.  My heart skipped a beat, as I have always known, that one day I  would have a deaf daughter.  So much so that over a year ago, long before we were matched with a child I began sign language classes.   These classes are a community type, run by this wonderful woman Marianne, who not only teaches us signing, but more importantly shares with us deaf culture.  A story that stayed with me, was that drivers who are deaf in Australia, must place a special butterfly sticker on their car window to alert police and other drivers, that behind the wheel is a hearing impaired driver.  Immediately one of the kids in the class asked, "why a butterfly?'  She explained that butterflies are deaf - and that they are often used as symbols for the deaf. 

Now flash forward to July -- we had been told on April 30th, when we accepted the referral to pursue being Wu Feng Hua's parents that we'd be traveling in 6 to 8 weeks.  We knew that delays would be possible especially because we had yet to be approved by the Chinese government to adopt, we were in a long que of parents waiting to have their files reviewed.  The Waiting Child list (which has older and special needs children) is separate, and if a match is made you are taken out of line, and in essense cut the others waiting for healthy baby girls.  I don't like that analogy of line cutting, but its how it works, I didn't design it, I'm just subject to it.  Now it was mid-July, and we received a call that delays would push our trip to September! I was devastated, I had applied for a child no OLDER than 18 months, and had accepted the 3 year old  with intrepidations. **oh side note -- right BEFORE we got the call for Faith,  God had revealed to me during my prayer time to be prepared for an older child, it was such a strong feeling, I remember crying that night, saying God please NO, I've have missed so much of her life at 3, I wanted a baby to share as many memories as I could.  He gently calmed my worries, helping me to see, that all the time we have will be filled with firsts and it was His perfect plan **

This particular day in July, I was in Faith's bedroom, praying on her floor under the window.  I was thinking that the 3 year old, would now be an almost 4 year old by time we were allowed to bring her home.  She would have been in the same foster home for 3 years, and would be so attached to them, she'd be so scared and angry with us for taking her away.  Also on my heart was that no one could explain to her what was happening, lacking language to communicate such a complicated thought.  I began to pray the rosary, to meditate on these things, and Jesus, and to hand over concerns as I often do.   It happened to be a Sunday, which is the day to recite the Glorious mysteries.   The first mystery's fruit was Faith... hmmm I thought, pretty reassuring godcidence!  Next, came Hope , something I had just prayed for the day before.  Third fruit, Love of God ... without that none of what we were being asked to do would make sense, would even be possible.  I finished with the 5th mystery, of which the fruit is Trust in Mary's Intercession ... at that very moment, I heard a strange noise outside the window,  the direction was difficult to decipher, and its nothing I'd eer heard before.  I was drawn to look out, and there in the backyard was the BIGGEST Butterfly I had ever seen in my entire life!! 

My heart filled with a peace that surpasses all understanding, God wasn't telling me the journey was going to change, or that it would be easy, but that He'd be with me, and this butterfly, with no hearing was such a sign of hope, faith and love.  The next day, I saw another butterfly, the day after that another, not this time a live one, but a picture of one.  From that July afternoon forward... EVERY SINGLE day until we met Faith, I have seen a butterfly!  They've been painted on the face of my friend's beautiful adopted daughter's face, they've been on the doctor's wall when I was waiting for my flu shot praying we'd be healthy on this trip, they've been on clothes, and many cards at my shower, they've been around just as I've most needed them, or as surprises when I least expected them.

We continue to see them now, even after His promise of uniting us has been fulfilled.  On the way to the American Consulate I prayed for a sign that we'd be able to complete the paperwork with the copy of the passport, and take our oath with the group - and there it was flying by the window.  I was very filled with anxiety the day we went to the temple and the garden, concerned we'd not be able to leave with the group, that Faith's cough would be something more sinister than air pollution, and that perhaps I was not the best choice as Faith's mom (the enemy was hard at work on me that day!!)... as we boarded the bus, I once again asked my loving Father to help me see His love in the form of a butterfly -- they were EVERYWHERE!!  We saw one almost immediately leaving the hotel, and the flittered about the bus in the middle of this big busy city!! It was amazing, we even stopped at a red light, and the merchant right below my window had a big butterfly baby toy recorder hanging from his awning!  The garden was filled with butterflies, including little yellow ones, that I had seen around town on another particularly tough day when God had sent a small winged messenger of hope to me!

May you all think of God's protection and love, whenever you behold the delicate and graceful beauty of His creation, the butterfly!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Last Day in Guangzhou

WE pray!  We have received an email from the adoption agency that they are VERY confident that Faith's VISA will be ready with the rest today!!   YEAH!!  We will know at 7 p.m. tonight, so keep those prayers coming!! 

We are laying low today, Faith and I both have yucky coughs, I had the doctor come check us out, and he said it was most likely the air quality that has made us sick (NO kidding doc!!), but that we'll both be fine!  We are taking Claritin and Alavert, and drinking lots of water.  He also advised we stay in the hotel A/C as much as possible today.  We went for another hectic elbow to get food breakfast lol, and then retired to our room.  This morning with Faith is going so well, she is starting to recognize play time vs getting ready time.  She is got the most mischievous smile lol , which we now recognize and can thwart certain behaviors before they escalate.  IT is amazing to us how quickly we have been able to learn her personality, and how the very vacuum we are forced to live in has been responsible for the bonding we have been able to achieve.

We also decided to remove ourselves from the larger group for the majority of the day, we sort of realized the irony of being called to coccoon at home, but yet here we are with other people and babies constantly.  Unlike Wuhan, when we were alone , and that too may be have been attributing to our more difficult day.  It is nice to have families in our same situation to share, and exchange notes with, but its better we retreat to regroup.  Which brings me to something Kevin and I were discussing this morning -- when we come home, though we CAN NOT wait to see everyone and to introduce Faith to everyone, we are asking everyone (family and friends alike) to give us a week to rest, acclimate to the time change and her new home, and to allow her to bond with the boys.  Thank you for you understanding, and respect of this wish -- although it may seem like a long time since we've all been waiting over 6 months to meet her, it will be the best for her in the end.  We will let everyone know when the visiting GREEN light is on!!   Thanks!!

I wanted to share my special morning with Faith , we spent over an hour 1/2 !!  Passing flashcards back and forth, I was signing the words when she'd look at me, but mostly she was just practicing her sharing, which she did so well with!  Then we brought out the crayons, to color in the flashcards, she once again was so calm, sweet and an excellent sharer!!   I am learning as much from her some days as she I.  A more relaxed atmosphere, definitely produces more advantageous exhanges between us.  We shared smiles, a few kisses, and made meaningful eye contact -- it was such a blessing!!  THIS entire episode was proceeded by Kevin and I praying the morning prayer and daily readings from the Magnificent.  ONCE again, the breakthroughs and blessings have come following time of prayer and thanksgiving to God.  As I reflect on the days behind us, and how many times this has happened, its more proof of HIS loving touch in this journey!!   And my belief that sometimes those rough patches were gentle reminders that we'd lost focus ... Worry about nothing, Pray about everything :)

The Faith dance

The Faith dance is easy, its one step forward, two steps back... and just repeat, over and over for days on end !!  We had been so blessed with easy days , feeling like we'd made headway in our bonding process, and we REALLY have.  Today, however, was a exceptionally challenging day.  This is the day, typically adoptive families are on the plane home, and Kevin and I can see why, because by now, you are DONE, stick a fork in ya type of done!!

But alas we are not done, so here goes the account of today ...
Breakfast as usual - ok there has been some really positives of a trip like this no dishes, cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, no LAUNDRY.. it comes FOLDED and everything from the adorable Chinese laundry around the corner!  Breakfast prepared every morning, with LOTS of choices, albeit Chinese style breakfast - dumplings, congee, salad lol ... with french toast and bacon thrown in for good measure. REALLY amazing fruit too, which with the toast and bacon have been my staples.  Its super crowded, and I miss my decaf coffee, but all and all I can't complain.  Faith did allow Daddy to go get his own breakfast again, but was a little more mischievious while we were eating, which should have been our tip off of the day to come!! 

We were off early this morning for a much needed sight-seeing trip - I couldnt walk around the same shops, or the hotel one more day.  We went to a local temple for a traditional baby blessing, I couldn't bring myself to kneel before another god, even for a cultural experience, so I was the designated picture taker.  Kevin felt a big sacreligious, but out of respect for where Faith is coming from, he was a good sport and went in with her for the blessing.   I got video of it, something to see that's for sure.  She was a stinker though the entire visit there -  she is getting so much more comfy with us, and is starting to test limits and boundaries.   Here again , the good news is its not JUST with me, Kevin has started to be tested too.  Today we wanted to explore her new found freedom in life, and was a crazy girl climbing and running away from us.  LUCKILY the locals in Guangzhou let you borrow strollers for your visit, so we had something to corral her in.  We have both experienced an increase in physical outbursts, which both infuriate and break your heart all in one.  You know its frustrating at not being able to communicate, but its also how they seem to have socialized her to play.  We have witnessed similiar behavior in the other older children around us.   We are just perplexed at teaching our children hitting, kicking, spitting, and biting as ways to play!

After the temple we visited a beautiful garden, we have often felt like we were in Disney during this vacation, this was another one of those moments!!  Kevin purchased her a little pinwheel is keep her busy, which I tried giving to her (as we still have me doing the majority of caretaking, and giving things to her).   See, here's the fine line we must walk in order to create an atmosphere of being safe and loved, and learning right and wrong.  I have struggled with this a lot in the last week, and am so grateful that I am relying on the Holy Spirit, and not my own human emotions to guide my own behavior.   This beautiful little girl, is so filled with confusion - new sights, smells, people , I can not even imagine!!  but in the same sense, anything we allow now for the sake of her adjusting, will only further confuse her when we suddenly say NO in  a month or so, when she is more settled, and its no longer novel and 'cute'.  So this need to be firm and loving, instead of indulgent and loving, is definitely adding to our challenges.

We had many a power struggle today, each filled with lots of prayer!!  She may not like me very much right now, but I know she is feeling secure and taken care of.  I see my role for now is not the one I pictured myself in, but God has so well equipped me for it with my preschool background, and all the lessons learned parenting Ian and Adam.  He reminds me over and over, gently and lovingly, that this journey is NOT about me, its about Faith.  About her having opportunities for a life undreamt of here.  She will have language, and the ability to really express herself - not needing to hit someone to get them to pay attention to them, or being able to tell a joke or express a funny story instead of reverting to rough play and slapstick to get a laugh.   She is so bright, has the most amazing memory , God called us to , in  a way, civilize her.  I am reminded so very often of the Helen Keller story, and how Annie Sullivan first found her student when she arrived at the Keller home.   Underneath that wild child, was a brilliant young woman -- just waiting for someone to be patient enough to let it emerge.

So, today we shed some tears.  I found that my window has a 'kneeler' that on the 15th floor, brings me closer to Heaven, and provides a wonderful place to seek His divine counsel and strength.  Once again, I think Kevin and I were reminded to not stop praying , to turn constantly to Him for help.  Tonight we made time to do the rosary together with Faith between us in the bed, she was a wiggly girl, and suddenly I was inspired to get the lotion and give her a massage (she loves these), it was an amazing transformation and she soothed down, and even massaged her daddy's hand while we prayed.  One of the fruit's for today's mysteries was "Trust in Mary's intercession"!!

 It is quite frankly the only way we are finding the courage to continue in a journey that is so arduous at times, it is hard to express.  The fruit of the labor of love, is always more love!!  Today's therapy was singing  -- in the shower, kneeling at my window -- just praising God in song.  One that was particularly helpful today was, Rescue  this version was sung by the Women of Faith singers.. and the words I will leave you with tonight...

You are the source of life, I can't be left behind
No one else will do, I will take hold of You
I need You Jesus to come to my rescue. Where else can I go?
There's no other Name by which I am saved
Capture me with grace, I will follow You

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Oath Day

Tuesday in Guangzhou -- LONG but one of the best days YET in our trip!!  This morning at breakfast the big deal was letting daddy finally go get his own breakfast, up to now I've been dutiful chinese wife, fetching his meal!  NO more of that ;)  she even watched him go out of sight, and then turned back to me and continued eating.  She is so funny eating, she picks up the food with her hand, and puts it ONTO the fork, then she eats off of that. We did buy her today a set of kids chopsticks and small spoon, like she'd be used to eating with, basically they put the plate up to their face and shovel in the food.  We haven't taken out this set yet, as its way too much fun watching her learn to use a fork.

After breakfast we hit the shops! OH that are magnificent.   You say, "best price," and suddenly they find wiggle room in that price.  I could have gotten a silk scarf today for 50 yuan, which is about $7 ...  I really didn't want it, but she thought I was bargaining!  I KNOW I should have just got it, had daisies on it, would have found some place to wear it, or give it as a gift.  I did finish my Christmas shopping today.. shhhh, don't tell my family , they are all getting gifts from China.  I just bought a kid, this is all I can afford LOL!!  NOW we really need to pray all my luggage gets home!!

After shopping it was time for lunch (see photos of dad and daughter sucking up noodles in our hotel room, mom had gourmet Ritz and Peanut butter crackers, yum!!).  Then we put her in the adorable purple WITH BUTTERFLIES of course, chinese cotton outfit for pictures with the rest of the adopted babies. There were 10 babies adopted on this trip.  They are an 8 yr old boy, 3 1/2 year old girl (who you all know very well), 3 1/2 yr old boy, 2 20 month old girls, and the rest are 10/11 month old babies.  All look so different, all absolutely ADORABLE!!!  We have tried to get pictures of each and every one of them!!
Trying to get them all to sit on this red couch, and not kill each other, or run away, and then LOOK at the camera -- OH it was hysterical watching the photographer try to get Faith's attention with a colorful bell.  We are trying to tell our guide to translate she's deaf - actually about 5 families at once said, she can't hear you LOL.  So he gets RIGHT up to her with the color bell bracelet, which then she assumes HE IS handing it over, and when he doesn't she starts pitching a fit.  OH yeah, it was great -- this right after she head butted our friend (we were RIGHT on top of each other for the picture)... OH and then there was the whole power struggle for the barretts to stay in, which will explain the 'LOVELY' messy do she ended up with in the professional pictures, so glad we get to pay for those lol!!  I was NOT relenting on letting her take them out, it became a game, and stubborn Portagee mom was determined to win!!   At this point I was thinking, she may not love me, BUT she will respect and obey me.  Yes, pick my battles, I understand, trust me, if you were here, you'd know, this was a pickable battle ...and lest there was no milk involved!!

After the photo escapade, we boarded a bus to the American Consulate to sign her VISA application, and to take an oath that the information we have given is true, and to promise to care for this child as our own, and as an American citizen. The first cool thing, was she sat on my lap the ENTIRE ride!! (She sat and 'read' a book with me this morning too!).  The next cool thing, was they had received at least a fax copy of her new passport so we were able to procede with the VISA application with our whole group.  The waiting room had toys ("OH joy", says the germophobic mom, "yippee" says the tired of corraling a squid dad).  After everyone was called to this little window to sign the papers, then we all stood and had our oath.  It was amazing, JUST as it was about to start, Faith, who had been wondering like a crazy woman, came right to Kevin to be picked up - which he did, she even allowed me to touch her leg, while we raised our right hands and swore to be her loving, caring parents forever.  Yeah, not a dry EYE in the place!!  OH and the best part of all of it, was this was all taking place during the Divine Mercy hour of 3 p.m.!!  We love that one of the couples that God so graciously placed us with, is a praying outloud kind of folk!!  RIGHT before the processing began, the 4 of us held hands, and prayed out loud that her passport would not be an issue, and that all would be ok!!  Very cool moment, and of course, our good and GRACIOUS God faithfully granted us that prayer.  We were told it is in transite, and we now just pray its in our guides hands by Thursday for that VISA to be attached!!!  *please pray with us for that!! thanks!!

When we returned to the hotel, to change for dinner, returning to our favorite restaurant, Lucy's.  Food is cheap, beer is cold -- and its all outdoors!! Its awesome!!  Dinner involved some more memorable moments... first, Kevin lifted his beer to toast our big day at the Consulate, and FAITH clanked his glass -- she totally knew what to do !!  We all roared, and then raised our glasses to her, which is obliged us with clanks all around!!  After dinner, the kids ran around, and for the first time, SHE JOINED in, even holding another 3 year old Karla's hand!!  They were skipping, and she was pulling poor Karla lol but for the most part, really enjoying the other kids, interacting.. it was another teary eyed moment for the adults who have been watching her slowly emerge from that silent chrysalis!   Praise you Lord Jesus Christ, for the blessings of this journey -- and the wonders who have allowed all of us to be witness too!!