Thursday, August 22, 2013

A new normal

The time has arrived and this week the big kids headed back to school.  It was a big deal this year because Kate started Kindergarten.  It was a big day for her, and for me.  I have been dreading this day for a long time, but she was very excited and I know she is very ready, so that made it easier to watch her go. 

She seemed to have a good first day, as did the boys.  Hard to believe we are back to school.  For obvious reasons, our summer seems like a blur.  But, here we are and hopefully everyone will have a good year.
Rob and I decided a while back that we would not send Vivian to school this fall.  It just didn't feel right.  I don't think she is ready.  Or, maybe it is that I am not ready.
Kate started preschool when she was 2 years old.  So, it has been 4 years since I have had a child home with me all day with no school.  In a lot of ways, it is a step "back" to be home again with a toddler.  But it is a step that I voluntarily took. 
We made the most of our time together on our first day just the two of us.  First, I took a jog with her.  Oh, exercise, how I have missed you!!!! Other than a walk or two, I have not exercised since before we left for China.  It was so nice to get outside and get my heart rate going a bit
After our walk, I just let her play for a bit.  I love watching her exploring the world


When we got home, I decided it was finally a good time to have Vivian open some gifts that had been waiting for her from some of my mom's friends.  I figured this was a chance for her to open them without her older siblings taking over.  If you sweet ladies are reading, thank you notes are coming!!  Thank you so much for these precious gifts, and for thinking of Vivian.  And for always doing wonderful things for me.  She LOVED them.

This was best I could do at  a picture of her with both her new dolls. She was so excited she would not sit still

So now Vivian and I will begin to get used to our new normal.  It will just be the two of us every day.  I have us signed up for swim lessons and a music class.  Although I have to laugh that I will be back with all the 20 and 30-something year old moms, I don't for one second take for granted the privilege that it is to be the one doing these things with Vivian. I feel so incredibly blessed to be the one to show her these things and spend this time with her.

One of the things that has taken me by surprise since arriving home with Vivian is how much I think about her birth parents.  Every time she does something new, or smiles one of her beautiful smiles, I think of them.  I wonder about them.  Especially her mom.  I think about the crazy twists of fate that landed the child she birthed in my living room.  I don't know how to reconcile the way I feel so certain that Vivian is supposed to be here with us, and so certain she is supposed to be my daughter, with the way I feel so sad that she is not with them.  I am convinced Vivian and I were supposed to find each other.  Yet, I know there is a woman on the other side of the world who may wonder about her every day.  What am I supposed to do with that???  How is this fair??

I don't know.  But, I do know that Vivian is here with me and I will not take that for granted.  I may not be able to make it the gym, or have lunch with friends,  or even shower on my own ... but that is OK.  I am honored to be raising her, and I intend to live up to the silent promise I made her birth parents as we left China:  to give her all the love I have to give, just like I did with my other three kids.


  1. LOVE that quote!! I so vividly remember bringing home Madeline the fall that John David started kindergarten and wow that year flew by. She started preschool the next fall and was ready to go, I sure missed exercise back then too:)

  2. Gorgeous post. So sweet. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  3. I have never commented, only followed along during your journey to your daughter :) We are a fellow adoptive family, waiting on LOA for our 12 month old daughter in Anyang SWI. We have a son (age 5) from Kyrgyzstan and a son (age 2.5) adopted in the US.

    I struggle with those feelings about my children's birthmothers all the time, especially right after they joined our families. I really think God gives us those feelings so we can have a love and compassion for our children's birthfamily and also for our children, since they will certainly ask about their first family some day. I think because I felt so indebted to my son's birthmoms, it has not been hurtful for me when either of them talk about their birthmoms (one known to us, the other unknown except for her name.) I don't cringe when my oldest asks his birthmom's name and we discuss how pretty her name is, and how much she loved him. I didn't feel hurt yesterday as my 2.5 year old was carried around by his birthmom during one of our visits.

    Vivian is just precious and I love those animated faces as she opens the doll-- such a contrast to the scared baby girl you posted pictures of in China. Isn't it amazing what love can do??

  4. What a beautiful heartfelt post - thanks for sharing.

    Also love how you captured her amazement when opening her gifts.

  5. Kate is darling in her "first day of school" outfit. I LOVE the expression on Vivienne's face when she is opening that beautiful doll. So precious! She looks so happy holding her new babies!! Enjoy this special time at home with her.

  6. The first day of school is always hard no matter how much you mentally prepare for it, but it is nic that she was so happy to go and what a blessing to have one on one time with your little one!

  7. I think you are such wise parents for keeping your younger child home another year...She will grow so much.
    Spending your first months in an orphanage just delays children and although she "looks fine", the extra time
    with you will be you both.
    Bless you all as you begin another exciting school year.
    mm, Vancouver,Wa.

  8. She is beautiful! The quote you shared is exactly how I feel too. I just look at Chengbin and feel so sad that his birth mother could not provide for his medical needs. I feel so privileged to be his mom but often think about her and how hard it must have been to leave her sick little boy in that beautiful park... I don't think I'll ever think about it without being sad for her. I hope I never do. We can just raise them to the best of our abilities giving them all the love and support that they need so that their mother's sacrifices were not in vain. I pray every day that every choice I make helps him on the path God has for him.

    Love seeing pics!! :)

  9. I am so excited that I stumbled upon your blog today! I was googling Beiliu and I just clicked on your blog (it wasn't even the first one). As I read along I once again realized when you wake up and ask God to lead your day, he will!! You see I am leaving soon to visit your new daughter's orphanage with a team of therapists. We were recently presented with the opportunity and jumped on it (we currently make frequent trips to Ukraine and Guatemala for orphan care). I also have a daughter from China. We brought her home in March of 2011. I would love to visit (or email with you) about our trip since you have been there recently. My email is Our non profit's website is My blog is I hope to hear from you soon. So happy that you are home and doing well!!

  10. Hi there,

    I love your blog. You have a beautiful family! My name is Jacqueline. My husband and I have been matched with a beautiful toddler born in China. Our LOI has already been uploaded and we are awaiting our LOA. I am curious to know, how did you have such a short time between LOI and travel? Our dossier is already in China and we have been in process now since Sept 2011. We are adopting a special needs child. If you can give me any tips on how to speed up the process, I would be eternally grateful. I wanted to reach out to you because I noticed that you also have a toddler adopted in 2013. We do have a doctor's letter requesting a medical expedite. You can check out my blog at I wish you many blessings. Jacqueline