Monday, September 30, 2013

Family weekend

We just got back from a wonderful weekend with Rob's family.  We spent the weekend at my in-laws house with Rob's brother, my sister-in-law and their three kids.  They have two boys who are the exact same age as our boys and the four of them have the best time together.  Doesn't hurt that my in-laws live on a golf course and have an xbox! Heaven for boys!!! 

My brother and sister-in-law also have a beautiful 15 month old girl named Pressley.  Kate has adored her since the day she was born.  There is a five year age difference between Kate and Pressley, so Vivian fits in great right in the middle of the two of them.  The girls played so well all weekend and I really loved getting to spend this time with little miss Pressley, who is just a doll.

Pressley (15 months), Kate (6), Vivian (almost 3)

This weekend was the first time these cousins have had a chance to spend more than a few hours with Vivian (we do not live in the same city).  I think if someone had seen them it would be hard to believe they haven't been together for years. 

Teaching Vivi how to race

Teaching her to do the "We're #1".  She copies everything everyone does and the kids thought it was hilarious that they taught her to do this. 


It was a great weekend and we can't wait to see everyone again.  Thanks Grandpa and Grandmom for hosting us all!

We are coming up on our 3 month "Gotcha" anniversary.  As we hit this milestone, I think of this:

Three months ago, there were no grandparents in Vivian's life.  Now there are four.

Three months ago, there were no cousins in Vivian's life.  Now there are ELEVEN.

Three months ago, there were no siblings in Vivian's life.  Now there are three.

And three months ago, there was no mommy or daddy.  Now there is Rob and I, and we are beyond grateful and humbled to be her parents.

People like to say that Vivian is lucky to have all of us, but the truth is (and I think all the cousins would agree) that we are all the lucky ones to have her.  She brings out a wonderful and caring side in all these kids.

In other news, someone is turning 3 in a few days!!!  Back with more on that later:)

Monday, September 16, 2013

All fixed up

I am happy to report that Vivian's heart catheterization procedure was a success and her heart is all fixed up!!  There are way too many pictures in this blog post, but I wanted to include them all as this is our documentation of this big event. 

We arrived bright and early Thursday morning and Vivian was in very good spirits!   We are so lucky to have a children's hospital in our city and they were AWESOME with Vivian.  Here she is "practicing" with her bear and getting ready for the procedure

The worst part of the day was the first few hours after the procedure.  Vivian was put on "bed rest" for the first 5 hours after the procedure and we were instructed to keep her as still as possible.  She was not too happy when she first woke up and she wasn't exactly thrilled about being hooked up to a bunch of machines, but she was a trooper and we managed to keep her occupied.

After the 5 hours were up, they allowed us to un-hook her and let her get down and walk for a few minutes.    She was so happy to be out of the bed

My parents were here helping Rob and I and we are so grateful they were here with us.  They got the big 3 kids up and off to school in the morning and then came down to help me so Rob could get some work done.

The big kids arrived after school and Vivian was really happy to see them


After the kids had some time visiting with Vivian, my parents and Rob took them home for homework and dinner.  Vivian and I would've been lonely, but  my sister stopped by with her girls to visit and help us pass some time, which I very much appreciated

Later that night Rob came back down and had dinner with Vivian and I.  We decided it was best if he went home and helped with the big kids, so he headed back home and Vivi and I crashed.

Vivian slept great that night.  One thing about Vivian, she is an awesome sleeper.  She has not woken Rob and I up ONCE since the day we got her.  I don't know how she slept with all the chords attached to her and all the machines beeping throughout the night, but she did (I, on the other hand, not so much).  The only thing she does better than sleep, is EAT!  Hospital food did NOT slow this girl down.

Before we could be discharged, Vivian had to have several tests run

Thankfully, everything looked great and they gave us the green light to head home.  We just had to wait for the doctor to stop by one last time.

more eating

Finally the doctor stopped in and gave one last listen to her heart and we were DONE!  We are beyond grateful to this doctor.  What he did for Vivian was life-changing. 

It is amazing that Vivian went in to the hospital on Thursday morning with a heart that wasn't working correctly and came out Friday afternoon with a heart that is just perfect.  She has absolutely NO restrictions from here on out and doesn't need any kind of medication.  A few hours after we left the hospital she was at a high school football game having a ball!  We are so thankful for the wonderful medical resources we have in this country.  This procedure changed her future.

Ever since the day we said "yes" to Vivian, we have known this little trip to the hospital would be needed.  It is such a relief to have this behind us. I feel a huge weight has lifted. We are so proud of our girl and the courage she continues to show every day.  And we are so proud of the  3 big kids for being so good while we were gone and continuing to shower their "Mei Mei" with love and support. 

And thanks again to Grammy and Pop Pop for being here for us, and for Vivian.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Vivian's Heart {adopting a "special needs" child}

This week is one we have both dreaded and looked forward to for a long time. 

This week Vivian will undergo  a heart catheterization procedure. 

Let me back up.

When Rob and I first looked into adopting from China, one of the things we learned was that a large majority of the orphans waiting in orphanages in China are labeled "special needs" children.  They are labeled "special needs" because they have a medical need or needs.  If you are willing to adopt a child with a medical need, you go through the "waiting child" program.  When this was first presented to Rob and I our initial reaction was that this was not something we were interested in.  I mean, we have three kids and we felt like our hands were full and how could we take on a child with a special need?  We wanted to say no, but we both agreed that we couldn't say no until we looked into it further and gave it some more thought.  So we did.  And we quickly learned that the list of commonly seen needs in these children varies from very minor (a birthmark can land you on the special needs list in China), to correctable (club foot, cleft lip and palate, heart defect) to more moderate and severe needs (Down Syndrome).  We also learned that Chinese culture is not always kind to those with "special needs" and many of these children are considered unadoptable in China.  It is very difficult to survive life in an institution as a healthy orphan, but these "special needs" children are the most vulnerable of the vulnerable and, in their culture, basically considered "the least of these". 

After much thought and research, Rob and I decided this path felt like the way we needed to go.  While the decision to adopt was a hard one for us and took months to make, this decision was an easy decision and we made it very quickly.  It just felt right. Of course there was added risk involved, but we had  already come to terms with that.  There is not much you can do in life that comes without risk.   So we signed on to the waiting child program and waited to see where this would lead us.

As you know, in March, we received the call about Vivian and it finally felt like this was the child  for us; this was the one we had been waiting for.  We learned in her file that Vivian was born with a heart defect (patent ductus arteriosis).  In simple terms, she was born with a hole in her heart.  We consulted our pediatrician who felt her prognosis was very good.  Of course, no one could give us any guarantees, but we simply couldn't say no.  Not to her.  So we said yes.

Thank God we said yes.
We never intended to share this information as we felt it is Vivian's business and not really important that anyone know.  I still feel it is her business, but now I think there are some important reasons for people to know this about her.

The main reason we are sharing this is because I know that there are people out there reading this blog who are considering the road of a special needs adoption (or who may know or love someone considering this path).  I think people are quick to say no to this path because of stereotypes about "special needs" kids.  I want people to see past that label.  Instead of worrying so much about how a child might burden, or "take away" from their family, I hope people will consider the ways in which a child like this could bless their family. These kids are SO WORTH it.  They are no less deserving of a family than perfectly healthy children.  And so I am sharing this because it felt dishonest NOT to share this.  When you think of a "special needs" child, I hope you will think of Vivian.  There are so many kids like her out there waiting for someone to take a chance on them.  I have said this before, but the biggest "need" these kids have is for a family.  Without that, they can't become as "special" as they are meant to be. 

Instead of looking at Vivian's heart as something we have to fix, Rob and I see it as something we get to fix. Had Vivian been born in the US, this repair would have been done almost immediately after she was born.  But, she was not.  Instead, she has lived with this burden on her heart for almost 3 years. One more thing that makes her so amazing.  One of the many burdens on her sweet heart she has carried over these years.

This week, we hope to heal this part of her heart.

But, what worries me more is healing the other part of her heart.  The part that was broken when she lost everything she ever knew.


We just don't know when, or if, that part will heal. 

I am once again reminded of those words her nannies used to describe her in her file.  "She is strong in heart".  Oh yes she is. Because on top of a new family, a new house, a new bed, new food, new smells, new routines, and no one that can speak her language and explain ANY of this to her; this child has had to endure not only routine doctor visits, but extra visits to pediatric cardiologists. We are so grateful to the wonderful doctors caring for Vivian.  Have I said before how brave this child is?



I am also sharing this because we would love for you to keep Vivian in  your thoughts and prayers.  She is going to be so scared and so confused when we wake her at 5:00 am on Thursday and bring her to the hospital. We will spend one night in the hospital and, if all goes as planned, should be headed home on Friday.  We hate to put her through this.  But, we are keenly aware that if Vivian were not here with us, she would not be getting this procedure, and it is hard to even think about what that would have meant for her future.  We consider ourselves very lucky to be able to do this for her.  We are so happy that she will have a family to be with her as goes through this.  It is just the beginning of her healing.

I will continue to hope that more people who are considering adopting will open their hearts to these wonderful and deserving children, who should not be labeled "special needs", but should be labeled simply, "special" because that is what they really are very special.

 "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
-Matthew 25:40

Thursday, September 5, 2013


A year ago today I wrote my first blog post.  So, today is my "blogiversary".  In honor of this milestone the blog now has a new and updated header picture (thank you to Courtney at for helping me with this) 

Today I look back and all I can think is ....  little did I know.

All I had a year ago was a belief that there was a little girl somewhere in China that was meant for our family.  I had a belief that God had called us to this path and would lead us to her. 

A year ago today we were close to completing our dossier.  I was gathering documents, obsessively checking the mail and racing as fast as I could to be "DTC" (Dossier to China).

A year ago today I was wondering who our child would be.  What would she look like? Where would she be from? How old would she be?  I wondered what she was doing as I was notarizing and certifying and mailing.   And dreaming and hoping and praying.

I had images in my head of what I thought she might look like.  I tried to imagine her hair, her face, her eyes.

Little did I know.

A year ago today my daughter was in a very different place.  She wasn't dreaming or hoping, she was simply surviving.  She was unaware of life outside her orphanage.


Little did she know.

What neither of us knew was that in a few months, we would find each other.  For all that I thought I could imagine, never in a million years could I have dreamt up a face this beautiful or a child this wonderful. 

I think back to all the little roadblocks and set backs and realize what so many tried to tell me along the way ..... it would all happen when it was supposed to happen. 

In a strange way today I wish I could go back to where I was a year ago and re-live this entire journey.  I miss the journey.  But then I remember that sleeping upstairs is the daughter I dreamt about all those months.  Sleeping upstairs is the daughter I truly wasn't sure I would come home with until the day the wheels of our plane landed.  No, actually, I don't want to go back.   I just want to go forward.

So here we are a year after I started this blog and the blog itself has turned into something wonderful.  It is one of my favorite things to do to sit down and make myself reflect on what is going on and write my blog posts. I love slowing down to marvel at the progress my girl has made as I upload pictures and see that progress unfolding right before my eyes.  When I started this blog, about 10 people read it.  As of today there have been 164,469 views.  A testament to how much Vivian's story has touched people.  I am thankful to our family and friends who are following along.  I am thankful to my adoptive friends who offer me so much wonderful support and advice and to strangers who have reached out to me to tell me how Vivian's story has touched them.  Thank you all for your love and support of our family.

Vivian continues to make incredible progress every day.  She is so brave.  I look at the pictures above of her before we met and hardly recognize the child I see in front of me now. 

She just needed love. 

She needed to belong.

She needed a family.

Thankfully, she got one.  And we got another daughter and the missing piece to our family.

I can't help but wonder, what if she was still there?  She would still be eating congee every day....barely walking, and not talking and  not really living and oh my word, the world would be missing out because this amazing child would be hidden away.  What about the others?  They need someone to chase after them, to seek them and find them and bring them home and love them and give them a place to belong.  They need someone to believe in them. 

Last week we celebrated our 2 month Gotcha anniversary. Hard to believe it has only been 2 months.  If you would have told me when I was in China the things Vivian would be doing in 2 short months, I never would have believed it.  Getting her to take a few steps or smile seemed almost impossible then.  Now she is walking, running, swimming, climbing, laughing, loving and trusting. 

Little did I know. 

“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” 
-E.E. Cummings

I came across this article last week written by a father about his son he adopted from China.  I thought it was worth sharing. 

Linking up with Lisa this week here:

the long road