Tuesday, March 11, 2014

One small action = HUGE leap of faith

The title of this post is directed towards many things. From Sage and I having our first conversation about adoption, to signing our Letter of Intent to make Mei Jing (Haylie) our own. Each step seemed tiny to others but we truly were going on a huge leap of faith. Faith in each other, our marriage, our families, spiritually, in so many things. We dug deep and found an entirely new purpose to how we viewed things, different things became more important, and we felt pulled to change the way we live.  In doing so we have removed one child from an "empty" life, and she has filled the void in our lives.  

Today has left me emotional.  I'm exhausted, we are busy, and while I would like to hit pause for a moment, the world continues to press on around us.  Then it happened, Haylie decided to take a leap of faith on me.  She came to me (completely unprompted) and gave me a kiss, then a hug, followed by laying her head on my shoulder while we held each other. It was beautiful.  Until then she had only allowed us to give her kisses on her cheek, she has never returned a kiss to us.  Despite our differences, stresses, struggles, and stubborness, she is slowly - yet surely - allowing herself to fall in love.  And baby girl, those feelings are mutual! Our love story is forming! 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

One month markers

This post will be done in 2 sections...today (actually yesterday, Feb 20th) marks our 1-month anniversary of having Haylie. It's kind of crazy, a month...sometimes I think it feels like she's been here forever and other times it seems like just last week!   So, flashback, here is Haylie the day we got her

And here she is today enjoying the warmer weather....

Since being home we have visited her cleft team and the international adoption clinic in Kansas City. Her first surgery is scheduled for April 24th and they'll be repairing her lip and hard palate (gumline).  It's taking us longer to get in for surgery then we had hoped, this is a busy surgeon! 

What's new in Haylie's life? She is sleeping through the night about 80% of the time, and she even puts herself to sleep now without Sage or I staying in her room. It's amazing the difference that made for all of our sanity! She is sleeping longer and we are sleeping soundly.  She still doesn't care for mac n'cheese, she's pretty good at eating everything else though. On occassion she'll be stubborn and refuses to eat unless she has ketchup to dip it in...and once the food is gone she proceeds to eat just the ketchup, and gets mad when we stop her! She is adapting really well to our extended family. Grandma and grandpa have both had a chance to keep her, with her brothers close by to make her feel safe of course! Sage is working a lot of hours so we are greatly appreciating the help that our family has provided us.  Last weekend Haylie got to go see Logan play basketball, and then she had her first visit to Burger King - she was a big fan! 

Then on Sunday we took her to church with us. She was looking stunning in her gorgeous dress and shoes!

A friend came by and brought her some clothes and her very own kitchen! She loves it! As do Hunter and Riley! ;-)

She has joined us for one of our famous family movie nights, she thinks the little couches are pretty cool! 

Today we enjoyed the 60° weather and finally got outside to stretch our legs and breathe the fresh air, she is quite the fan of being outdoors!

That's all for our 1-month gotcha anniversary. I'll finish this post up at the end of next week when we've been home for a month! 

March 2nd-home for a month

Well we have survived a month home as a family of 6.  Honestly, it's become hard to remember what it was like before Haylie was here! She's fitting in with the boys like a natural and the boys don't seem to mind the overload of pink that has taken over our house! 

So during this month Haylie has joined us at church, basketball games & practices, doctors appointments, and hauling her brothers around to their many activities. She enjoys playing with her cousins and has done well with our family members watching her when our lives get so busy that we need the extra help.  Sage and I got to go out last night to celebrate our anniversary, she enjoyed having her cousins and grandparents here while we were out! I have learned how to get through Walmart with two toddlers, that was seriously one of my biggest fears! 

(Excuse Hunter's goofy expression!)

Haylie being silly....

She is finally ok with Hunter hugging her!

1-month comparison photo, her cheeks are definitely filling out!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Not all sunshine & rainbows

I have thought long and hard about this post, should I do it? How honest do people want me to be? No one else writes these things, am I breaking some sort of rule? After thinking long and hard, and talking with fellow adoptive families, I've decided that I need to write this. The words need to be out there for future adoptive parents to see. You may ask why? The general consensus, this part of adoption is not talked about. Not by anyone, not your social worker, your agency, people you talk to while waiting to go get your child. Nope, the only place you'll hear this mentioned (whispered in shame) is in a private support group, and even then you'll be shaking as you hit "post", praying that it wasn't a mistake. So what is the big mystery? I am not madly, head over heals, in love with my daughter. This innocent child that I longed for.  The girl who's picture I fell in love with nearly a year ago. This child who I flew across the world for, because I wanted to give her the chance that no one else was willing to give her. No child should live in an orphanage, no child should go their entire life never being told "I love you".  Yet here I am, not in love. Sure there are things she does that I think are absolutely adorable, and she makes me smile and laugh. But truth be told, she makes me cry too.  Not necessarily her either, it's not like she's a bad kid.  She's the exact opposite! Adjusting well, the boys all like her, she has bonded well with both Sage and I, the dogs can even sit near her!  I have spent many hours in tears doubting our decision to adopt.  At times even thinking I'd made a huge mistake and completely disrupted my wonderful family.  This is where I'm wrong.  Yes, I've disrupted my family, but not in a bad way.  We are all growing from this life change, we are changing Haylie's life and she is changing ours.  

So this is where I have had to stop and really reflect on myself and my feelings.  If this is such a positive thing, then why do I feel so sad and unsure?  Well first, I had 3 wonderfully "sleep-trained" children.  If you are a parent you understand what a blessing this is.  I've now brought this new child home who has completely disrupted my sleep routine.  The new lack of sleep has made it difficult for me to remain focused!  I'm also used to kids who want to come sit with me, who constantly come and give me hugs and kisses, who when they get hurt they want their mom to comfort them.  Seriously, being a mom is the greatest gift in the world!  Haylie is only now learning that if she is hurt someone will comfort her. And as for hugging, we had to teach her how to, yet she doesn't understand the reason for it.  So in all of the training we received I was 100% aware that she wouldn't want to hug me, I just never thought that I wouldn't want to hug her.  I wasn't prepared to not feel an instant connection to her.  These are the parts of adoption that people don't talk about.  I think that this is a huge disservice to adopting parents! I thought I was alone on this, that I was a horrible person, and that I don't deserve this child.  Thanks to some other lovely ladies I'm realizing that it's not just me.  And guess what, we all thought it must "just be me". Because of this I think it's important to speak these words, put it out there for everyone to see.  Just because these feelings aren't immediate doesn't mean they won't come.  She and I have only known each other for a few weeks and right now we're really just co-exhisting.  But it will come....and in the meantime, I know that I'm not alone in this.  I have an amazingly supportive husband, family who has my back through the good times and bad, new friends that are right by my side through this.  

So for people just getting home with their new child, people who have been home a month, people who are considering adoption....know that these feelings are normal.  Reach out to your support group and allow people to help you.  You don't need to go through this alone, there is a large group of people who can help you through the "irrational" moments, and the same group of people will be there to help you celebrate that first hug, and first I love you....adoption is tough, no doubt.  This may be one of the hardest things I'll do in life.  But it's a challenge that I won't regret, she's a blessing to our family.  So friends, while the going is tough...just keep reminding yourself that you can do this, if it's been a bad day remember that tomorrow is a new day.  Eventually your feelings will change and these days will all be just a memory - at least that's what I'm told ;-)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

surgery plans

I left people hanging this weekend because I was hoping to have our surgery date before I posted, but I have time now so I'll blog now! 

Haylie did pretty amazing at her cleft doctor appointment. We were there for 3hrs and we spent that entire time seeing physicians, nurses etc. We saw dental, audiology, ENT, nutritionist, speech, OT, social worker and the cleft surgeon.  Haylie failed her hearing test in both ears (we were prepared for that) but the ENT and audiology are hopeful that with placement of tubes she'll gain full hearing.  As of now her hearing is functional so that's a good thing! Dentist said her teeth looked ok and she didn't see any cavities, yay!  Nutritionist was pleased that she eats everything we give her. Even though Haylie doesn't correctly say any words, in Chinese or English, speech was still pleased that she attempts sounds and also was happy with how quickly she is picking up basic sign language. We'll continue teaching her signs, and then will get in touch with our school system to have her started in speech therapy. I was impressed to hear that most kids are 100% caught up on the english language within 9-12 mos of being adopted! 

(She loves wearing shoes, thank you to everyone who donated clothes!!!! She's a little diva!)

We are using Dr Jiang at Childrens Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. We really enjoyed meeting him! I'd love to tell you that Haylie liked him, but I won't tell a lie! She was ok with him though, up until he needed to see inside her mouth. In her defense though, I had to turn her facing me then lay her backwards with her head towards him so that he could get a good look at her palate. As soon as he said "flip her over" we knew it would be ugly! Nothing that goldfish couldn't fix though!

So her surgery plan.....he is going to fix her lip and her hard palate (her gumline) first, and they will place tubes at the same time. This will take place in about 6-8 weeks. After her tubes are placed then we'll retest her hearing. Then about 6mos from then they will fix her soft palate (the roof of her mouth). I was a little confused as to why not do it all at once, or soft palate first to help her with speech.  Some hospitals do things differently, and Dr Jiang comes highly recommended so we'll go with his plan! 

Some of Haylie's likes & dislikes:
She likes snacks, animal crackers & goldfish are a huge hit! She's not a fan of mac n' cheese, but loves her veggies and chowed down on lasagna and pizza rolls!!!! She loves getting dressed, loves shirts with glitter and bows, and still likes to accessorize. She will walk around in her jammies with shoes, hat & a scarf. She doesn't carry her doll around anymore, I think she started to associate the baby doll with bedtime so the doll quickly lost it's importance! Bedtime is still a subject that gives me anxiety.  She tolerates the dogs, but still would prefer if they didn't look at her. She loves her brothers and gives them pretty good hugs!  She cannot stand being told "no" or being forced to do something that she doesn't want to...for instance if she throws something and we make her pick it up and put it where it belongs...woah, hello tantrum! Luckily they seem to not be lasting as long, though they still come frequently. It's just typical "terrible 2" behavior though.  

(Already enjoying being picked on by her little brother!)

This week we will be thrown back into reality. The kids will all be back in school and Sage will go back to work. I'll work a partial shift this Friday and then next week will return to my normal schedule.  While it will be bittersweet having us all go our own ways again, some routine is definitely needed.  Oh, this Friday we have Haylie's appointment with the International Adoption clinic at Childrens Mercy, this will be where they actually assess her overall health and draw labs etc.  I imagine it won't be as tear-free as her cleft appt! 

On a side note, to all of you parents that have two toddlers at once, or even better, twins...you guys are pretty amazing. Let me ask you this, how do you keep your house clean?! I mean seriously, it's as if a tornado went through our main floor and left nothing untouched! And seriously, 2 babies can find so much more trouble than 1 ever could on his own! :-)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

One week in

As promised, I plan to keep everyone updated! We've been home for a week now, and some how it seems like a month already. Right off the bat here is the long awaited picture you've all been waiting for! 

Haylie has been doing really well, we have seriously gotten very lucky! She is warming up to the boys nicely. Hunter has probably had the hardest time adjusting, it's hard sharing your toys when you never had to before, but then having to share your mom's lap is even harder! He is coming around though, I think they only shoved each other off my lap once today! 

Riley is so in love with his baby sister! I was so worried that he had built her up so much in his mind that when he realized she can't talk and wouldn't know how to play with him, that he wouldn't like her. Man was I ever wrong! He plays with her and she loves giving him hugs, it's awesome to watch! 

Logan has done awesome too, he was actually the first one (out of ALL of us) that Haylie gave a hug to! What a cool honor for him! 

Through this journey people have told me how much they love my honesty, so I intend to keep it that way. The good, the bad, the ugly.  Obviously for our family's privacy we won't include everything, but as someone phrased it to me today, I won't "fluff" it all up. 

We have had a lot of good times! Thankfully I can honestly say more good times than bad. The bad though, man they can be frustrating! We have to remind ourselves that she's been home for only a week! Sleeping is absolutely our biggest issue. She is terrified of sleeping in her room. We can't blame her though! She spent the first 3 years of her life sharing a room with 40 kids and now suddenly we expect her to be comfortable sleeping alone? Luckily for her, her daddy is amazing and has been sleeping on a twin mattress next to her bed.  It's comforting for her when she wakes up throughout the nighy to turn over and see that she isn't alone. Tonight was actually the first night that she has willingly gone to her room, climbed into her bed, and fallen asleep without crying. Praise the Lord! 

It's been awesome watching her eat, weird I know. In China she loved whatever we gave her, or at least she ATE whatever we gave her. Towards the end of our time there she was starting to leave her rice and noodles and just eat everything else. Now that we're home we have snacks available for her all of the time. During meals if she doesn't like something she just leaves it. It's nice to know that she feels enough trust in us that we'll keep the food coming and she doesn't need to eat everything simply because she doesn't know when the next meal will come. So even though we've made those big steps, if Hunter goes near her snack cup she gets really upset with him! Hopefully he'll learn quickly not to mess with her food! 

So here is the ugly, and every parent getting ready to adopt should read this! Through all of the classes, the books, the articles, no one ever mentioned how YOU the parent will feel. I was so focused on how Haylie would be and how the boys would adapt that I never stopped and thought about me. Let me tell you, this has been hard! Let me also say this, baby blues can come with adoption too! I have spent a lot of time crying and praying and wondering about the faith that pulled us onto this path. But as each day goes on, jetlag gets better, and sleep becomes a more regular thing, I can see clearly again and feel like this was definitely our calling and we did the right thing! I say this so that if anyone else is having concerns, know you are not alone! And when the fog lifts, you'll be able to reaffirm all of your choices! And look at this face, our lives have forever been changed for the better!

A lot of people have asked if Haylie is warming up to Sage any better? I'll let this next picture answer that question...

I think having Sage sleep upstairs with her was actually a blessing for not only me, but for their bond. Sage can now feed her, change her diaper, get her dressed, help her use the potty, pick her up....everything that I can do. Hallelujah! 

So we covered good and ugly, just the bad left. Baby girl is your typical 3yr old! Tell her no and she can throw a tantrum like a pro! Between all 3 boys we've never had a kid throw themself on the floor crying, she has mastered it quickly! We've opted to ignore the behavior and gradually the tantrums are lasting shorter amounta of time.  I'm sure the professionals wouldn't agree with us ignoring the tantrum, but it's working for us and she seems no worse off when they've stopped! 

Another big step that happened today, all 3 dogs were allowed to join the family again! She has been terrified of them so we gradually brought them out for short periods of time through out the day. Finally today we said enough is enough and just let them back in. She spent probably the entire morning on the couch just observing everything, but by afternoon she was back up playing. This evening I even caught her reaching out to pet one as they walked by. Big steps!!!! 

I know everyone is anxious to meet her but for now Sage and I will tag team it with the boys activities and just leave Haylie at home for awhile. We want to make sure that she is confident in who her parents are and that she is confident that we'll keep her safe. In time we'll slowly bring her out to events and give her a taste of what our lives are really like! Until then we'll shelter her at home and all learn what our new normal is! 

Here are just a few more pictures to leave you with. Also, this Friday is our first appointment with the cleft team. We are really excited to hear the plan of care for our little girl! 

She thought Twister was pretty funny!

Thursday, January 30, 2014


We woke up nice and early in China, loaded up into a van, and headed off to Hong Kong. I was having more anxiety about the van ride than then plane (or so I thought at that point) only because there would be no bathroom for Haylie and no stopping along the way. She only cried once or twice, luckily the driver didn't even seem phased.  Getting through border patrol/customs into Hong Kong took forever!!!!! Eventually we made it! Hong Kong looks like it might be a beautiful place, lots of smog though so it was pretty hard to tell.  We were pretty excited to eat at a Popeyes in the airport! 

The flight: I wouldn't necessarily say that Haylie was a fan of the plane, but she could have been much worse than she was.  I did feel bad for the people sitting around us though, she got loud a few times. And sitting right infront of us was one of the families from our group that was bringing their 11 month old home.  Oh well, it was only 15hrs of their life! ;)

Landing in Chicago was a disaster. Haylie started crying in customs and cried all through waiting for our luggage. Customs didn't seem certain what to do with us, we got sent to the wrong place before being re-routed. Then we had to recheck our luggage, go through security (yet again!!!) and walk/run to our flight. Yep, I was the lady carrying a baby with tears streaming down my face through the Chicago airport. The thought of missing our flight was more than this emotional mama could handle!  We got lucky and got to our gate as they were beginning to load. Even more lucky that they were able to move our seats so that the 3 of us could sit together (this was a problem leaving Hong Kong as well, remind me to thank our travel agent for planning so well -not!).  So we made it to KC, our luggage didn't, but really who cares about that stuff right?!  

Me and my "twins". Hunter is taller and heavier than Haylie! I don't know how people carry a baby on each hip, I couldn't do it! Poor Hunter was sliding on down! 

There were many tears cried during our homecoming, I think they were all mine (and maybe my mom's) but I couldn't help it. My boys! My sweet boys!!!!    

Haylie did wonderful in the carseat. We had been worried because China does not have a carseat law, so she had never seen one before. 

We got home to pink balloons tied to the house and this awesome banner made by my sister with help from Riley. I love it, thank you Emily.

Our family all came by and ate some ribs and had some Welcome Home Haylie icecream cake. It was great to see everyone! Haylie did really well considering the craziness she had gone through in the past 24 hrs! 

Bedtime was sweet, I rocked my sweet Hunter to sleep (while I cried...notice the theme for the day?!). The big boys went to bed well, and then our challenge began. Haylie wanted nothing to do with her bed, her room, me. It was ugly, my tears and snot was ugly. The anxiety of the day just took over for both of us. Sage came to the rescue, bless his heart, and the two of them bonded through that disastrous night.  Even cuddled up with my 3 Bostons I did not sleep well. Maybe it was their gas? Maybe it was the 3am anxiety attacks? Or the strong feeling of home sickness, even though I was home already.....regardless, when I heard Hunter's sweet fuss over the monitor at 6:40am I was beyond excited!!!! And the huge smile I got when he realized it was me getting him up, melt my heart! 

Couple of waffles later, Logan is off to school, I sit with my cappucino (oh how I've missed you!!!) and give you the dirty truth about our trip home and first night here. Sage & Haylie are still asleep, I can hear Riley up getting dressed, I have Hunter by my side and dogs on my lap. 

Life is good....life is really good. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Day 12

Hurray!!!! Today was our last FULL day! We have Haylie's Chinese passport along with her visa to come to the US. 

We didn't do much today, bought odds and ends for our nieces and nephew, and our boys of course. We have bought Haylie many little trinkets representing China and the province that she is from. Our plan is that on the anniversary of her Gotch Day we will give her a new item. We have enough to go up until she is 13.  Hopefully she'll appreciate these items and get a little enjoyment out of the tradition! 

So what has Haylie learned so far? She can say "hi" and "uh-oh". She waves hi and bye, blows kisses, is a pro at raising her eyebrows at people, and man can she strike a pose! We wanted a girl and girl is what we got! She still loves bows, bracelets, shoes, pretty clothes, and her baby doll. 

The above photo shoot was totally unplanned, no coaching, all her! :-)

We enjoyed dinner with our travel group tonight, we'll really miss everyone and their precious babies.  We've definitely built some life long friendships! 

We load up tomorrow at 6am to start our drive to Hong Kong (3hrs), we could use some prayers that Haylie does ok for that long without a bathroom! Potty has become our biggest hurdle over the last 3 days!  At 9:50pm Tuesday night (KS time) we will be taking off from Hong Kong heading to Chicago. Praying weather holds off so that we aren't delayed. I can't wait any longer to have my family together!!!!! 

We love you all and really cannot express our gratitude to everyone! To everyone to helped with our kids, those that left us encouraging comments, and those who have prayed for us (and still are!), THANK YOU!!!!!!!!