How ARE you?

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The first photo of all my girls together, taken 17 days after being home. Why did it take so long? What happened to doing things that make logical sense?

We have so many dear friends in our Village that have surrounded us throughout this whole adoption and are now asking us, ” So how are you guys now that you’ve been home a couple of weeks?” and it’s always kind of a loaded question that deserves a various assortment of answers depending on what moment the question is asked to me.

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As of this writing we have known Quinna for exactly one month (!) and  we have been home 19 days, and if I’m being honest it’s been a complete blur. We haven’t had much on our calendar – on purpose, we wanted our first several weeks home to be at home – so one day just melts right into another and I can’t tell if it feels like we’ve been home for three hours or three years. Kind of a little bit of both, really.

The first few days were great but intense. Rob had to hit the ground running as soon as the wheels touched down in the U.S.A. because we had only five days to wrap up our current client’s house build before they moved in. This meant that on the first day we all woke up as a family of 6, Rob was out the door by 8am to work and I was left home with all the kiddos.

This felt ENTIRELY like the first day home alone with any of my newborn babies. It was overwhelming and scary, and I drank entirely too many cups of coffee, but I desperately wanted to prove to myself (and…Rob? God? everyone?) that I could handle it. I felt, yet again, like a shaky-legged baby deer trying to get my bearings on this new life that was before me. There was no turning back. I HAD to figure it out, like, immediately because this wasn’t a dress rehearsal, there were actually four entire children in my house that needed parented right at this very moment all at the very exact same time.

Come, Jesus.

So I trepidatiously acted very Mother Theresa-like for the first (little) while, with a very mellow sing-songy voice and a smile plastered on my face. We are fine! Guys, look! We’re tooootallllly fine!

We played outside, played inside, ate lunch, took naps. And through it all, I was so tense and scared, yet completely mystified and amazed at the beauty of what was actually going down.

We were giving little Quinna a whole new life. New experiences, new love, new opportunities. And she is adjusting to it all so well that it’s easy to see that she was absolutely meant to be ours. Avalon, Harper, and Tatum have been amazing since the very first moment we got home and were exactly what Quinna needed to adjust to this life of hers. They are the glue that has pulled her right in to becoming a part of this family. Those girls will never really know the immense value they have had on this part of the adoption, but I will do my best to continually reiterate how special it was that they could be used by God in this way.

Now the nitty gritty of our days: I don’t know what else to say, other than it’s just plain bananas bringing a foreign child into your home as a part of your family. There were so many things I had to deal with that never occurred to me before. Things like Quinna not knowing the boundaries of our yard; we have a street out front (duh) and a lake in the back. She’s had to learn that it’s not ok to just run freely into either of them. There’s also meal courtesy, and her learning the basic manners of waiting to eat until we’re all seated and have prayed. Sharing has been hard between Tatum and Quinna (naturally, I would say, for two toddlers). I should really just throw on a black and white striped shirt and whistle around my neck every morning to make clear exactly what my position has become.

Then there’s the language barrier! She understands us a lot better than we understand her, and when she communicates here is what she mostly says: MOMMY! MOMMY! MOMMY! MOMMMY! MOMMY! MOMMY! To be accurate, she says this 99% of the time she speaks, and also 99% of all the minutes of the day. While insanely incessant, it is still so adorable, because she just wants to be acknowledged and loved and to share every moment with me. She wants to show me every single thing because she wants to connect with me – a sticker on her hand, shoes on the wrong feet, a completed puzzle, rocking her baby – and if I just remember THAT, it helps me not lose what’s left of my mind.

Attachment-wise, Quinna is still warming up to Rob, and while it can be frustrating for both of us that she’s still uneasy around him, we are remaining patient and understanding, knowing that all we can do is continue to give her time to build trust in him. We’ll never know exactly why we’ve had this struggle with her, but that’s not what matters; she just needs to know that she’s safe and loved. Thankfully every day she opens up to him a little bit more. She’s evolved from not wanting anything to do with him and only scowling at him, to smiling at him, to holding his hand, to giving him hugs, and it gets better every day.

While having four kids is a whole new ballgame for us and slows me down to a point where it feels like I’m herding turtles at times, it is SUCH an absolutely joy and Quinna is doing fantastic in her new life. All of this to say….we’re doing well. We absolutely cannot complain. Life is good and crazy and loud but we are good! It boggles my mind to think about not having even met her just one month ago and I can barely remember what our life was like without her. She is such a gift to our family. Adoption is amazing!

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What Happened to Math?

Listen, I know we have only been home from China as a family of six for 10 days now but I’ve quickly been schooled on how this whole Big Family Life thing works.

What I’ve specifically discovered is that there are elements of this Big Family Life that have not increased proportionally to adding only one more small person to our clan. Mathematically, we have only increased our family by 20%, which would logically indicate that all things have also increased by 20%.

But lean in and let me whisper some hard truth in your ear so that the kids that are about to go back to school don’t hear: math is a scam and liar.

With our new family addition, add a couple of zeros to that 20% and we get a more accurate indicator of the way certain things have changed around here.

I’ve gathered ‘round some evidence wherein one might assume we brought home the entire orphanage or perhaps maybe we’re running a day camp out of our house, which, no, but without further ado, here is where the math is drunk:

THE NOISE

It was cute in the beginning. On our first night home we gently and quietly took Quinna by the hand and led her though the house, giving her the official grand tour. “Look, Quinna, this is your room!” we whispered. “And here is the playroom, with all the toys! Here, shy and reserved child, let’s build with blocks! Or do you feel more comfortable having a quiet, composed tea party?” we offered. She slowly walked around surveying the premises, determining where to start, while Rob and I tiptoed upstairs to allow the kids to settle in together and to get know each other.

It was almost a full 74 seconds of quiet play before the ruckus started. Maybe it was a full-on riot and parental trickery all schemed out by the children, like, yeah, they just think we like tea parties, WATCH OUT MOM AND DAD, WE’RE IN FULL FORCE TICKLE MONSTER WILD BANSHEE BRAWL MODE, SQUEEEEEEEEALLLL!!!!!!

And then it began. The screaming. Happy, giggle-screaming, mostly, but still. “Aw! It’s so cute! They are having fun and love each other!” we said. But that was ten days ago and, for the love of young children, my eardrums are ready to put themselves back on an airplane to the other side of the world for good after the continuous, full-volume, high-octave shrills of emotion.

It’s fine. The screaming/shrieking/high-pitched noises do stop sometimes. When they’re sleeping.

THE LAUNDRY

I have friends with more children than me – up to even seven kids, God bless them with an unending supply of Tide and dryer sheets – but even with just four of them it all of a sudden feels like I am throwing in and folding another load of laundry as often as I hear someone asking me for a snack.

This does not add up.

I’ll admit I’m not beyond having everyone wear the same pajamas a minimum of six nights in a row in an effort to reduce unnecessary washing, drying, and folding. Sometimes my little kids don’t even wear pants! (They wake up from their nap wearing a shirt and a Pull Up, and if no one (ahem) grabs their underwear and shorts to put back on then who am I to complain about less clothing to get dirty and then wash? This is common sense.)

I’m now asking myself, why ever even dress them in fresh, clean clothes every single day? One pair of pajamas, one shirt, one pair of pants. Put them on in the morning, sling onto the floor at night, wake up, grab off the floor and put on again. It’s what they are inclined to do anyway and why mess with Nature? Then they can be naked for two hours once a week while I wash only four sets of clothing.

Minimalism is a popular thing. Time to run with it.

THE EATING

I thought this was a “teenage growing boy” thing, this whole I-spent-nine-hundred-dollars-on-Monday-for-groceries-and-still-I-ran-out-of-food-for-my-hungry-kids-by-Tuesday thing. Do they have a tapeworm that I’m unaware of? Who is breaking into my house and stealing all of my food? Why does it feel like I’m feeding an entire preschool classroom a snack instead of just four little girls?

I noticed yesterday that Costco sells boxes of 5 dozen eggs. I highly considered.

THE LACK OF PRIVACY

Someone is always looking at me. Or touching me. Or under my feet getting stepped on. Most always whining to me about something very particular. Could be a kid, a dog, or a husband. You never know.

“Little girls, little girls, every where I turn I can see them…” – Miss Hannigan

I think I used to have some semblance of privacy or personal space. Is this memory real or do I simply daydream about it?

It’s fine. I’m alone sometimes. When they’re sleeping.

THE TIDYING

I’ve always been a tidy person. I like my home picked up, toys put away when they’re not actively being played with, dishes in the cabinets or dishwasher instead of piled in the sink, etc. As such, when I became a Mom I got into the habit of circling around the house once or twice a day to do a “clean sweep” and put things away, and it never seemed overly daunting or taxing, just a quick and easy way to keep things generally picked up. NBD.

Since coming home with the fourth kid our house is in a constant state of mess despite me and the kids doing the usual rounds of tidying we’ve always done. It’s like the girls have somehow channeled Hansel and Gretel and now leave trails of Crap behind them all day long lest they not be able to find their way back to their bedrooms at the end of the day.

A book here, some crayons there, a doll shoe on the stairs, three Magformers on the foyer rug. We then go around and clean up those books, crayons, doll shoes and Magformers and then when we are done there are magically 14 more homeless Legos/hair ties/Beanie Babies left in our wake that weren’t there just minutes earlier.

How does one more kid cause my house to continually look like it was ransacked by savages? Is four kids the threshold at which we moms must just throw our hands in the air, give up on our already meager housekeeping goals, and welcome the Technicolor mess of parts and pieces to live everywhere among us? It feels like when I walk through the door of my house I’m essentially just swan diving deep down into an open-lidded toy box and I just simply cannot. Jesus, take the wheel or send me an industrial strength central vac with an enormous hose.

THE NUMBER OF TIMES I ASK THE CHILDREN TO PUT THEIR SHOES ON AND/OR TO GO POTTY

Who can count that high?

HOW MUCH PATIENCE IS REQUIRED TO GET THROUGH THE DAY

This one is proof that there is a God who loves me and my children.

THE AMOUNT OF TIME IT TAKES ME TO…GET EVERYONE DRESSED AND OUT THE DOOR

Technically I’m “dressed” but it’s actually quite probable that I did that aforementioned grab-the-clothes-from-yesterday-off-the-floor maneuver. Whatever, it’s my life.

THE AMOUNT OF TIME IT TAKES ME TO…RESPOND TO A TEXT MESSAGE

I feel like I need to send out a PSA to all of my friends and family that explains my lackluster texting is not an indicator of how much I love and adore them.

THE AMOUNT OF TIME IT TAKES ME TO…FINISH A CUP OF COFFEE

This one isn’t fair or fine at all. Can I live?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A letter

Now that we have been home for over a week and Quinna has been introduced to some family and friends, I thought I would share the heartfelt, personal attachment letter that I mailed to our families prior to us leaving for China. I share this because I want to be as proactive as I can in creating healthy and appropriate relationships for Quinna as her world continues to get bigger and bigger and she meets more and more people.

We’ve already witnessed some confusion from her in regards to who’s who (reaching to a nurse at the doctor’s office saying ‘mama’ and running and jumping into our neighbor’s arms squealing ‘papa!’ for example), and while this is a little disconcerting for us, I’m grateful that we’re aware of this phenomenon among adopted little ones and can helpfully teach her about the various kinds of relationships.

So in case we may meet in real life, I thought it would be in everyone’s best interest to make known our situation and how you, friend and reader, can best respond. As Quinna’s biggest advocate, cheerleader, and Mother I want nothing more than loving, appropriate relationships for her and I believe that these are the steps we need to take as she continues to settle in to her new life at home. Thank you for reading, for understanding, and for respecting her in an area where she needs it most right now.

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As you’re well aware, after many months of preparation, paperwork, and prayer we are finally making preparations to travel to China to bring Quinna home! In a way, we feel like we are packing our hospital bags and getting ready to jump in the car so we can race to the hospital…only we’re flying to the other side of the world and giving birth to a three year old. 

With this letter, I first want to reiterate how much Rob and I appreciate the support that you have directed our way throughout this adoption. There’s really no way to succinctly express the gratitude we have for our circle of people who have encouraged us since we first began this process 18 months ago. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a village to adopt one, too, as we’ve learned. Your prayers, thoughts, encouragement, help with kids while we travel, etc. do not go unnoticed or unappreciated! No matter the impact, big or small, you play a part in this story and are helping us bring our daughter home and for that, we cannot thank you enough.

Currently, as I prepare for travel, I’ve been thinking often about how even though in some sense we have ‘arrived’ to our final destination of bringing Quinna home, really the journey is just beginning. We’re finally harvesting the seeds we’ve been sowing for a year and a half. This is not the time for us to sit back and kick our feet up! Harvest season is working season in farmer-speak, and we’re ready to work! It’s almost time to dig in to being a new family of 6! As such, I’m mindful of how this harvest requires major effort and intentionality. Our adoption agencies have done a tremendous job in preparing us as best they could for the transition and the work that we can expect to do, and some of it we wanted to share with you.

When it comes to adoption, ‘attachment’ and ‘bonding’ are big buzzwords heard over and over again. It basically means that the adopted child needs to learn that she is now a part of a life-long family whom she can trust and love. In other words, Quinna needs to learn that WE ARE HER PEOPLE! More specifically, that Rob is her dad and I am her mom. Not ever having a relationship like that, she won’t know what that looks like unless we intentionally teach her. For that reason, we’ll be cocooning together as a family of 6 for a bit after returning home from China.

Cocooning for us will mean several things; first, it means we’ll be spending a significant amount of time at home: limited outings, visitors, sensory experiences, etc. Think: newborn baby! We’ll be keeping things simple and slow for a bit as she makes the adjustment into an entirely new world. Also, jet lag and a twelve-hour time change. Oy.

Additionally, cocooning gives us the opportunity to deeply attach Quinna to our family by earning her trust. More specifically, during this period Rob and I (and Avalon, Harper, and Tatum) will be the only ones meeting Quinna’s needs. We’ll be the ones to hold her, soothe her, feed her, touch her, change her, snuggle her, etc. This is how Quinna will first understand that we are trustworthy and that she is safe with us, which in turn will allow her to learn to love us as her family. Love follows trust.

After some time has passed and she has successfully attached to our immediately family, she’ll be in a safe place emotionally where she can accept love from more and more people. Before long she’ll be healthily attached to all of us!

What’s challenging about this, though, is that we’re humbly asking on Quinna’s behalf for some boundaries during the early days after returning from China. Until we suspect that she’s emotionally stable and attaching successfully to our family, Rob and I will need to be her primary caretaker, in all senses of the word. If you’re with her and she approaches you with a need during the first early weeks, it’s best to redirect her to Rob or myself so we can accommodate her. Unfortunately this also means that big bear hugging, pulling her up on your lap, feeding her, changing her diaper, carrying her, holding her hand, etc. will have to wait a bit. We’ve learned that it’s absolutely critical for her emotional wellbeing that we assist her in this way, so even though it goes against everything we’ve ever known with our biological kids, we can trust that this will be well worth the effort for Quinna.

In the meantime, she also needs to learn that the people we choose to surround ourselves with – you! – are wonderful, trustworthy people that she is safe to love! High fives, gentle hugs, smiles, blowing kisses, waving, laughing, are all appropriate and welcome. We want her to feel celebrated and embraced into our family, so please don’t be afraid or feel intimidated by the ‘adoption rules’. Really, there are no rules in this! Our jobs are to be flexible and understanding, showing her slowly every day that she is safe and loved by all of us.

I know this is difficult and that we all want nothing more than to show her how much we love her right out of the gate. How fortunate we are that God made our biological children immediately attach to us as parents by nature! Sadly, this is not the case with adoption. But we can work with this and can trust the process together! We’re so grateful for your understanding and will look forward to her knowing our People as her People too!

I sit here in tears as I write this….but Quinna has no idea how many people are here waiting for her; to love her unconditionally, encourage her, and build her up into the hope and future that God has promised her. She has no idea what kind of beautiful life she is walking into…and neither do we. She’s about to light up our life in a way that only she can, and I know that light will shine brightly beyond what we could ever see.

Thank you, again, for your love and support and for being part of this story.

 

 

 

 

 

Final days in China

The past several days have been a cocktail of Mostly Fine, mixed with some Long Days, a few Tantrums (from everyone), and just enough Smiles to get us through. All of that to say, we’re ready to come home.

Since my last update, we have been to the United States Consulate where we took an oath on Quinna’s behalf allowing her to receive her immigrant visa which was a big and important step in this process. We met and chatted with more adoptive families while we were there and again it was so cool to see different people from different walks of life, ages, and backgrounds all doing the same thing we were doing. There was definitely a very special kind of kinship between us all despite varying circumstances.

The most interesting part of that morning was meeting our interview officer – believe it or not, he was from our home town! He looked at our paperwork and even said he knew exactly which street we lived on. The world keeps getting smaller and smaller!

That was really our last important part of the adoption process, even though we don’t get to leave China until Friday. There is paperwork being completed behind the scenes that we’re waiting on, but as for us we were finished with all appointments and places we needed to be. That left us trying to figure out what to do with the rest of our time here so we were just sitting around the hotel room wanting to stab our eyeballs out.

After our Consulate appointment Tuesday we spent the afternoon napping, walking around the hotel garden, and then took a cab to a different part of town called Canton Place. This is an area that many ex-pats enjoy because there’s a whole block of various restaurants – Mexican, Thai, Italian, Burgers, Irish Pub – all centered around a pretty fountain and shopping area. We decided on the Italian place and it definitely didn’t disappoint – their pizza and wine was just what we wanted. For Quinna we though maybe she’d enjoy some spaghetti carbonara (she likes noodles, bacon, and eggs after all) but she took one bite and spit it out. Pizza ain’t her thing yet either, but we’ll see how many of our Pizza Fridays it takes until she figures out how awesome it is.

 

That night we were all laying on the bed winding down for the night and Rob starting playing with Google Translate on his phone. Quinna sleeps with a panda bear we brought her (from her sweet Aunt Coco) and he entered ‘panda bear’ into his phone and when Quinna heard the translation in Chinese her little eyes lit up she got the biggest smile on her face. She loved hearing her language and kept repeating it over and over to us. Hearing her speak Chinese in her sweet little raspy voice was so sweet. She is so smart! We then would put random words into the translator and when we would hear them spoken she would look at us, nod her head, and then say and point to the object (shoe/hair/pillow/ear). She was giggling so hard at us as we butchered her language trying to repeat the words! When we learned ‘panda bear’ is  ‘da xióngmāo’ we decided to name her panda Dasha. (You gotta listen to it to get it to get it!)

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The next day was totally free so we went with another family from our agency to Safari Park, a really cool zoo where the highlights are a safari train ride and, of course, pandas. Unfortunately a pretty severe thunderstorm rolled in halfway through our visit so that was a bummer, but our goal was to see the pandas and we did! Quinna freaked out and was SO excited. That alone was worth the entire field trip (because to be honest, none of us were really in the mood for a field trip and at this point just desperately wanted to bide the time away so we could come home).

Finally, after a long two weeks away from home, it was time to begin our journey home. Thursday we made the three hour drive to Hong Kong where we would spend the night and wake up for our flight home on Friday.

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Time to go home! 

I tried not to let my nerves show, but the truth is, I was super nervous about how the 14.5 hour flight home would be. We boarded the plane with an entire grocery store’s worth of snacks, plenty of window clings that I was told were a hit on airplanes from other adoptive families, and desperate prayers begging for sleep and good behavior (for, well, all of us). We were SO fortunate to have been upgraded to Business Class at the very last minute and because of that and God’s mercy on us, I have to admit, it wasn’t that bad. In fact, the flight was totally fine. Quinna ate duck breast and noodles, I drank my wine, she watched about six hours of movies, and then slept the remainder of the time. It may have been the longest 14.5 hours of my life but I can’t say it was the worst.

We still had several hours in the car to get home and she was hungry so we stopped on the toll road to get her a snack; of course, french fries were exactly what she needed as her first meal on American soil. ‘MERICA, Y’ALL.

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FINALLY, finally, we made it home – and what a homecoming it was. I can’t wait to share and gush all about just how wonderful it was to be received by our sweet family and friends. It was everything I dreamed it would be and more. We are loved and we are HOME!

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Greetings from Guangzhou!

We’ve been in a new city, Guangzhou, for two days now. I’m not sayin’, but I’m just sayin’…we were pumped to get out of Nanchang. That place will always be near and dear to our hearts because it was where we brought Quinna into our family, but I think all three of us were happy to leave that place behind.

The craaaaazy train station
The craaaaazy, hot train station

We took the high-speed train from Nanchang to Guangzhou on Friday and that was definitely a new experience. The train station itself was…interesting. I saw everything there; babies without pants (normal), bathrooms with only squatty potties (I held it), people throwing trash and dumping liquids everywhere, and lots of pushing and shoving. That is evidently the name of the game there….either push or be pushed. There isn’t a lot of common courtesy and respect when getting either on or off the train platform. It is a complete zoo, the “air conditioning” is set at 80ish degrees, it’s smelly, and it’s just gross. We played the game, shoved our way on the train and then rode 4 ½ hours into Guangzhou.

Our new guide, Jack, snatched us up right away and brought us to our hotel, and it’s amazing. Very beautiful with a comfortable resort feel. Lots of restaurants, beautiful pool, small playground, and right in the thick of the bustling city. Guangzhou is a neat place; I’d say it reminds me of a cross between New York City and Key West. It’s very urban and busy but also lush with greenery and trees. It has a charming feel and plenty of Western amenities to make us feel a little more at home. So far we’ve hit up Starbucks, an Italian restaurant (well, they tried), and H&M.

While we’re here for the week, we are wrapping up business on the U.S. side of things. Saturday morning was Quinna’s medical exam so that she can receive her U.S. immigration visa. This consisted of very short, basic check up (temperature, eyes/ears/nose, heart beat) followed by a TB blood draw. The exam was at a clinic where, on Saturdays, all adoptive families go so it was really fun to see other adoptees and chat with their families.

The hotel we’re staying at is also very popular with adoptive families and boy, has it been humbling to say the least. There are families here with children that have far greater special needs than Quinna and to see so many parents willingly open up their hearts and home to these kids is like seeing angels in the flesh. It is so endearing and inspirational to witness this kind of sacrificial love. I wish I could bottle it up. It’s truly miraculous and beautiful to say the least. I’m in awe of these people.

((Side note: One of the families in our group is adopting a four year old girl, and the mother and I got to chatting about Quinna. She said she felt like she had seen her photo before, and I mentioned it was probably from our agency’s blog. Come to find out, this mother had taken a trip to China last year on a Superkids trip volunteering as a physical therapist. She visited Quinna’s orphanage and met her there! She even brought this blue headband that Quinna (previously named ‘Samantha’ by our agency) is wearing in this photo that we received in her adoption file! Such a small world!))

After the exam, lunch, and a long nap we wanted to check out the pool. Quinna seemed to have more fun people watching than actually participating herself, but we still enjoyed our time and even had dinner poolside. In true Taylor Girl form, she had on every accessory she owned at the pool.

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Last night was the first night that Quinna slept through the night without waking up panicking and crying. She even woke up in the morning with a smile on her face! We see small progress like this every day and it’s so heartwarming for Rob and I. I can tell she is enjoying this one-on-one attention from us and that this bonding time is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do.

Today we went sightseeing with a small group from our agency to Shamain Island. This is a small, touristy island where there are parks, cafes, and sweet little shops to buy souvenirs. Most adoptive families visit here during their stay in Guangzhou so the shop owners are very kind and welcoming. They speak Mandarin to the kids and English to us, they show us things (chop sticks, bubbles, jewelry) that are popular items for families, and they were so grateful for the business. The time we spent there was fun for the most part, but it’s hard to really enjoy touring when it’s 100 degrees outside. Everybody is just a little edgier, naturally. We made it through, ate lunch, and now Quinna’s napping peacefully.

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A few little updates on Quinna:

  • Attachment has gone beautifully. This was a real concern of mine before we left, so if you have prayed specifically for that, thank you deeply. She definitely knows we are Her People! She is more of a mama’s girl right now and Rob has to work a little bit harder for her, but I think this is totally normal. And when I’m out of the room, she does great with him. She’s funny about things, though; for example she won’t let Rob push her in the stroller. She’ll throw a huge fit if she turns around and sees him pushing and not me. She’s also more likely to cuddle with me or grab my hand when we’re walking. Rob is more of a playmate to her, though – she loves to tickle and chase him. It’s really not all that unlike our relationships with our girls at home, though. He plays, I nurture. But we’ll continue to progress as time goes by, of course.
  • I’ve mentioned it’s super hot here and we’re pretty much always sweating, but little Quinna – wow. That girl knows how to sweat. She sweats more than either Rob or I! There’s always little beads of sweat on her forehead. I’m thinking her body has just adapted to this climate and that’s how she cools herself off.
  • The girl loves some noodles. I just finally learned today from our guide that noodles are the preferred food of children here (not rice!). Even yesterday, when we ate dinner by the pool, she wanted a steaming hot bowl of noodles and shrimp dumplings. She uses the typical Chinese method of eating, which is to get face-first in the bowl and snarf. We’ll work on table manners when we get home 😉 IMG_2125.JPG
  • She’s starting to repeat more and more of what we say. She still doesn’t try and talk much in Chinese or English on her own, but she’s getting better at parroting us every day.
  • She’s a total goofball. Her personality is just adorable and completely charming. She does, however, still have two distinct sides of her and she can switch from pouty to happy in the blink of an eye. Fortunately we’re seeing more and more of the sweet side as time continues to pass.
  • The only time she doesn’t have her bow on is when she’s going to bed. She’ll wake up, find her bow, and bring it to me right away. She’s a quick learner 😉 IMG_2057.JPG

 

 

 

 

Filled Up

Quinna had a hard time last night. She woke up twice during the night bawling and crying out the same phrases over and over in her Chinese dialect. It was unlike anything we’d heard her say before so we were clueless as to what she was saying, but I could tell she was feeling very emotional and was grieving hard. This wasn’t the Whine-Cry from earlier in the day; this was something from much deeper within.

As I laid there, stroking her forehead and reassuring here that she is ok, her mama is here, I prayed for Jesus’ peace within her. She needs to know she is loved, but she is also desperate for His restful, beautiful peace.

I wonder if she’s ever had peace?

While Quinna was upset and I was praying for her to feel comfort and peace, I felt an immense wave of gratitude as I realized this whole time we’ve been in China I myself have had the Lord’s unexplainable peace within me, despite the challenging circumstances that we’re in; the kind of peace that absolutely passes all understanding.

Nothing about what we’re doing is easy by regular, human standards:

Being in China, which feels honestly like we’re on the moon sometimes, is not easy.

Being away from our other three children for over two weeks is not easy.

Adjusting to a new child, who doesn’t even speak English, is not easy.

Understanding how to care for a grieving child is not easy.

Yet, through all of this, I absolutely have tremendous, unexplainable peace. That’s not at all to say that this has been Easy Street. I honestly have no clue at all about what I’m doing. It’s a lot like how we all feel when we have biological babies – the doctors hand them over to us at the hospital, set us free, and all of a sudden we’re off in the world basically just flying by the seat of our pants and doing anything we can think of to avoid screwing up our kids too much. It’s terrifying! These circumstances we’re in now aren’t any less terrifying. I’m positive that without this precious peace I would normally be a stressed-out basketcase. I’d be fretting about this, fearful of that. Freaking out more often than not.

But I know I’m in the peace of the current. The world around me is unknown, my days are unfamiliar, yet all I hear is the calm, tranquil water as I gently drift through this present time.

With this peace that I know I possess, the Lord affirmed me last night that I’m the vessel through which He is offering Quinna her newfound peace. In all the ways that I am trying to help her, love her, and guide her, I cannot offer anything authentic if I am not first filled up by Him.

“You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”

– Eleanor Brown.

As we continue to do our jobs and love on Quinna, He’s doing His job to pass on the peace and love to her. I am simply a conduit for Him to reach her. The gravity of this is not beyond me and it floors me to think about God Almighty using little old me to touch her through me. I’m nothing special, just one of the tools in His toolbox.

I know the peace I’ve been given is because so many people are lifting us up in prayer to the Prince of Peace himself. I am forever grateful. Really…thank you. We’re all making a difference in God’s kingdom one little girl at a time. So from the bottom of my heart, if you are reading this now or are thinking about us, praying for us, or messaging me with encouragement, I am eternally grateful. By the grace of God, I really do feel your prayers in the peace I possess. It is nothing short of a miracle and a gift. And please know I’m praying for all of you right back, thanking God for you and asking for His blessings upon you.

Thank you for reading, thank you for coming along with us on this journey. Adoption is AMAZING. If adoption has ever been placed on your heart at all, even in the tiniest way, let me encourage you to explore more about it. Pursue the spark; it could ignite a fire in your heart beyond what you could ever imagine. If you’ve been waiting for a sign to proceed, let this be your sign. God used other people to encourage me to pursue this journey and I believe He’s now going to use us to encourage others in a similar way.

Don’t ignore a miracle that God may have stored up for you!

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What would we do without her?

 

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Sweet, sweet peace

((Ok, God is cool….Quinna JUST woke up from her nap the very second I finished writing the last word of this post. I know that He always helps author all of my posts, but now I’m certain of it. We had words to get out!))

 

About Quinna

I thought I’d share a little bit more about the girl of the hour! Here are just some random tidbits we’ve learned about our QT these past three days (which feels SO much longer than that, wow, this is such a time warp) ….

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  • People have asked me about her size: she’s tall and thin! She has a long torso and equally as long legs. Also, big hands and feet! I was shocked when I saw her and even asked Rob if maybe they estimated her age incorrectly. We’re told she just turned 3 on July 5 so I guess I’ll believe them and always wonder how she defied the odds of being a more typical size for her culture.
  • Quinna hasn’t really talked much at all for us or to us. Not in Chinese, not in English. I can tell when she laughs, though, that she has a really adorable raspy voice much like her cousin, Knox. SO cute. She did say her first word to us today when we were bribing her with jelly beans: she said please! We’re still working on mama and daddy – soon I hope!
  • Even though she isn’t verbal with us yet, she is definitely picking up on English and doing well at understanding us. She knows what we mean when we ask her to go potty, she will put her shoes on when we ask, etc.
  • Speaking of the potty, she is potty trained for the most part. While we’re here in China we’re having her wear Pull-Ups just to avoid any accidents, but she always goes when we ask her to. It’s like I birthed a potty-trained baby!
  • Adopting is, in fact, a lot of like having a newborn. The amount of rocking and holding and singing and shushing and cuddling is just like I would do for an itsy-bitsy baby. My upper body and neck are just as sore as they were when I constantly held my newborn babes. And a grieving child is a lot like a colicky infant, so Avalon helped acclimate me for this I suppose.
  • She loves riding around in my baby carrier, which is a huge blessing because we use it whenever we go out. She’s adorable – when she sees me grab it she jumps right in with a big smile. IMG_1932.jpg
  • We noticed right away that she is very strong and has some amazing grip strength. We figured it out last night at dinner finally – we think it comes from using chopsticks! IMG_2030.JPG
  • She’s a smart cookie. I’ve allowed her to play some iPad games and have watched her match shapes, colors, animals, etc. Not having heard her speak at all yet I’m encouraged to see her development in this way. 8FD20AED-E4B3-443F-B783-1C3B1929DDB8.JPG
  • She was not a fan of bathtime until a breakthrough we had this morning. She would get super upset every time we started the tub, but today finally laughed and splashed and had a good ol’ time. I told Rob, things like this will always be curious to me and I think I will always wonder if something from her past causes certain behaviors.
  • She’s starting to be fun, more relaxed, and much more playful. Until today she wasn’t very interested in the toys we brought for her. This morning, however, we were FaceTiming with my parents and Quinna wanted to show them all of her toys, acting very proud of and excited about her goodies.
  • Quinna has been very cuddly but today gave me a kiss for the first time! It was so sweet. Just a gentle, sweet smackaroo all on her own accord. 41898AEE-83CC-47B0-914F-8F8375A86F14.jpg
  • Attachment is going really well. She’s definitely bonding with both of us, and I’m so grateful for that. She has her moments of wanting each of us individually but is open to receiving comfort from either of us (most of the time). Listen, I don’t hate all the cuddling that’s required of me, I’ll just say that. She’s a gem and we’re so blessed to have her. IMG_2039.JPG