Monday, February 14, 2011

The Amazing Sophie!

Well, it feels like it’s been forever since I’ve posted an update. But then, I look at the calendar and realize we’ve only been home for 3 weeks. Wow! Maybe it feels so long because Sophie has come SO far. It is AMAZING that this is even the same child that we met in China just 5 weeks ago! She continues to make huge strides every. single. day.

To just try to give you some idea of how remarkable she really is, we took her to her pediatrician three days after arriving home. She specializes in international adoption, so she’s accustomed to seeing these children and realizes that they are often significantly delayed. She felt that, developmentally, Sophie was about on track for a 9 month old baby, but with her eating deficiencies, she would label her even further behind. She feels certain that Sophie spent most of her time in her crib, with little to no stimulation, and we are positive that she was never fed anything except a bottle. She did not know how to eat. She still doesn’t know how to eat solid foods, but we’re working on that. She refused to put anything in her mouth at first, even once she did start eating. She would only eat it if we put it in her mouth for her, even the M&M’s. She would fight us if we tried to use her hands. Well, now we are in the process of going through all the toys in our house because, finally, she is starting to put things in her own mouth! Also, when we got her, she could not crawl. She now crawls like a champ. She could barely walk. She now follows us all over the house. She didn’t grab things that were put in front of her. Now, she reaches for everything around. She didn’t play. Now, she plays all day. And, best of all, she wouldn’t smile. Now, she doesn’t stop smiling, and neither do we! We are so proud of her and all of her hard work!

We feel so blessed that God chose this child for us. We still don’t understand all the reasons for everything that she has had to go through in her life before we were united, but we are so grateful that the Lord, not only chose us, but opened our hearts to hear his call to adoption. Can you imagine if we would have missed it??

Here are a few pictures from the last couple of weeks:

Happy girl crawling around on the floor.

We get this a lot. :)

Gracie and Andrew taking advantage of the nice weather.

~Emily and Sophie~

Sophie enjoyed her first snow, as long as she stayed in Daddy's arms.

Sweet Sophie!!

Gracie LOVES for them to match!
Now, if only she would cooperate so I could get a cute picture of it. :)

Thank you to everyone who has prayed for us and for Sophie to get to where she is today! God has shown me, once again, that NOTHING is too big for Him. Five weeks ago, I don't think anyone who knew Sophie would have believed how AMAZING she would be doing today. Your prayers made a difference! Thank you so much!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Well, we made it!! Another 27 hour trip from our hotel to our driveway - only this time with a baby! Sorry that I didn’t get update when we got in, but it was about 11:00 Saturday night. Then, yesterday was spent pretty much just trying to stay awake. I know I’ve kept you all in suspense about how the plane trip went, though, and I feel really bad about that. However, I’m happy to report that your prayers worked!! She did GREAT!! She didn’t fuss hardly at all. She actually slept for about 6 hours on the really long flight. The only part she really hated was landing, but other than that, she did better than we could have hoped for. Thank you all so much for all of your prayers for our trip back!

Even though our plane was not scheduled to land until 10:30 Saturday, there were still many of our faithful family and friends there waiting for us at the airport to give Sophie a warm Welcome Home. Thank you for being there for her and for us! It was great to see everyone after being away for so long. I will have to post pictures of that another day since I didn't have my own camera out. There were plenty of cameras there, though, so I will get pictures. :)

Since getting home, she’s really doing quite well. We were a bit concerned about setting her back considering that we would be, once again, taking her away from her surroundings, moving her into a completely new environment, new people, etc. However, she seems to be adjusting really well. I know it’s helping that we’re all still together and that everyone is continuing to pray for her. She really just continues to improve each day. Right now, as I’m typing this, she’s actually on the floor with David and Gracie in the living room. Just being on the floor in itself is a huge step forward. It was only just days ago that she was screaming if she was anywhere but in my arms (with me walking.) We’re very happy and proud of her for the progress that she’s making.

We’re also proud of how well the other children are handling all of this. Emily and Andrew have been a wonderful help and have been a great big brother and big sister to her. She has already started warming up to them. Gracie has been busy trying to “help” with her, too. :) She likes to “help” change her diapers. She also shows her how to play with her toys.

I just can't thank you all enough for all of your prayers, support, and encouragement through all of this.

"The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all." ~Mulan

Friday, January 21, 2011

There's no place like HOME!

I can’t believe tomorrow is the day!! We’re finally going home!! We had dinner tonight with some of the people from our group who are still here with us. Some of the others have already headed home. We will miss the friends that we’ve made on this journey, but we are SO ready to go home. We are hopeful that all the changes that go along with home will not set Sophie back, as she has come so far these past few days. We really feel so blessed to see so many improvements so quickly. I’m sure with continued prayers, she will make this next transition into her new home relatively smoothly. I feel confident that she’s already feeling loved by us, and maybe even having some mutual feelings of her own. ;) God is good, isn’t He? :)

Now, if we can just survive that plane trip. :) As much as we want to BE at home, we are not looking forward to the process of getting there. Please, please pray for Sophie to stay calm during this trip. She gets so upset during the bus rides. I’m really hopeful that the plane will be different. We’re just a little nervous, though. Ok, really nervous. :)

I don’t have any new pictures from today. In case you haven’t noticed, this trip has not been exactly as I had planned. If so, I would have had tons of great pictures from every day, not only of Sophie, but of everything we saw in China, as well. As it turned out, we didn’t really get a ton of Kodak moments from Sophie, nor did we get to see too much of China. But, that’s ok. We got Sophie!! And she’s perfect. And that’s all that really matters! :)

Speaking of things not going as planned, I do have a story about that. One of the main things that I wanted to do while we were here was visit Sophie’s orphanage. This was not only where she spend the first 14 months of her life, but it was also the place where she was found. I really wanted to go there to see this place myself, to take in every detail, to take pictures, to ask questions, to memorize it as much as possible so that I would have something to tell her if she ever wondered about the place where she spent the first year of her life. This was very important to me. But then, when she was having such a hard time and grieving so heavily, I began having doubts, especially considering it was a 3 hour trip and her hatred of the bus rides. I just didn’t know what to do. I just put it out of my mind for the first days because, at that point, we were in survival mode anyway. Then, some people from an adoption forum that I’m a part of began telling me that maybe I should consider an orphanage visit. Sometimes, this helps children deal with their grief, possibly by giving them a sort of closure. So, again, I was really struggling with this. One day in the middle of an “episode,” in desperation, I called our guide and asked her if she could arrange the visit. She said she would and get back to me. But almost immediately, I began again to worry that it might set her back. What if she regressed? I prayed and asked God to fix this. I did not know what to do. If she needed to go, then He would need to make it happen. If she did not need to go, then our guide would need to forget that I called. Sure enough, two days later, when I saw our guide again, she told me that she forgot about the orphanage visit. :) Not only that, but this morning, we met a lady who has a daughter at home from the same orphanage as Sophie! We compared stories, and they were almost identical (which tells me that the nannies truly do love those babies.) Well, she did go for the orphanage visit and said that she has regretted it ever since. She said it was the wrong decision, and it set her child back from the progress she had made up to that point. Now, I’m certainly not saying that no one should go back to visit their child’s orphanage. We did with Gracie, and it was a great decision. What I’m saying is that God has been so good to us through all of this! We have had such a tough time here in China, but He has never left us. He’s been here with us the whole time, and I’m so thankful He cared enough to not only help us make the right decision, but then give us that confirmation. :)

So, the next time I blog, it will be from HOME!! That's so exciting! We're just about packed. We will leave our hotel in the morning at 10:00 a.m. (which is 8:00 p.m. Memphis time), and arrive in Memphis on Saturday night at 10:30. A LONG trip, but we can't wait!!

A few random pics we did manage to get.

People carry huge loads on bicycles!

The food you see on the street is a bit less than appetizing.

But KFC delivers! And McDonald's, too! :)

View from the Pearl Riverboat Cruise. Beautiful!

Another view - same cruise

We're coming HOME!! Did I mention that?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Happier Every Day!

We are truly making progress on a daily basis now. We are starting to see Sophie’s sweet little personality come out more and more each day. As I said before, she’s quite affectionate, which is likely part of the reason for her deep grieving, but now that she’s starting to show us that side of her, she’s quickly becoming pretty irresistible. ;) Seriously, the way the nudges her little head into my neck to snuggle, and the way she likes both hands wrapped tightly around me at times, or even the way she reaches up to rub my face, play with my hair, or just look at me. Precious!!

So, enough of the mushy stuff for now. :) Yesterday, we went to the U.S. Consulate for our oath taking ceremony. This was the last step before getting her Visa issued. Yay!! It went okay because we saved her bottle for the bus ride to the Consulate. She did pretty well waiting. The only tricky part while we were actually there was listening for them to call you. Although we were at the U.S. Consulate, the ones doing our paperwork were Chinese, and they were calling us by our children’s Chinese name. Yikes! Some of them were really hard to understand. Let’s just say that Charlie Brown’s teacher comes to mind. We were praying that would not be our window. It wasn’t. :) That’s good because we needed a break before that bus ride back. Remember, she drank her bottle on the way there. Yeah. That means she screamed on the back. All the way back. The whole 40 minute trip. Screamed. :( And, we have a 20 something hour plane trip coming up.

Today, our whole group met for the famous “Red Couch” pictures. For those of you unfamiliar with the China adoption community, this is a big deal – everyone does it. Everyone who adopts a child from China, must stay at least part of their trip in Guangzhou. Since Sophie is from Guangdong Province, we ended up here for our entire trip, but everyone must come through here. Most people stay at the White Swan hotel. Even those that stay at other hotels usually at least visit the White Swan for these famous red couch pictures. Well, since Sophie has still not sat anywhere other than my lap or David’s since we got her, of course, she was having no part of sitting on that couch. That is why you will see me in every picture. Believe me, I’m not a camera hog. :)

One more full day before we get on an airplane!! Yay!! That’s also scary, too. Please pray for her and for us for our trip home. It’s going to be a long one. :)

One more happy before I go! As I was typing this, David is sitting with Sophie in the other room. He just told me she took her first bite of solid food all on her own!! Yay! Guess what it was? Chocolate! An M and M, actually. :) And, just in case you’re wondering, YES, we had tried chocolate before, lots of times, and cookies, and yogurt, and watermelon, and everything yummy we could think of. She refused it all. But, not this time!! We’re getting there! Every day is better and better. Thank you so much for praying for her!!

Most of the children in our group. Not exactly "picture perfect," but close. :)

~Families and All~

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

2 Cor. 9:15

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I'm back :)

I realize it’s seems I’ve taken a break from the blog, but it’s really been unintentional. I actually had started an update 2 nights ago, but Little Miss Sophie woke up in the middle and never really went back to sleep very well. Then last night, I was just really tired. Anyway, I’m back.

Sophie has really done remarkably well these past couple of days. I know that David filled you in on the Safari trip yesterday. I had every intention of carrying her through the park all day, but then the train ride was the first thing we did. She really surprised us with how much she opened up on that ride. She was laughing and playing with us, and babbling away. She had not really laughed out loud like that up until that point. We really felt like that was a turning point. She and David had a great bonding that day, which, I believe, led into an even better day today.

Now, we didn’t get to do anything as exciting as the Safari today, but we did get off the Island and do a little shopping. We really haven’t been off the Island since we got here, except for a trip to the Carrefour, so it was still exciting for us. We feel like we’ve been here on this Island forever. But, since yesterday went so well, we thought we would take a little walk. Again, she let David carry for a large part of the trip, and she spent a lot of this time playing with him and even leaning in for kisses. Speaking of the kisses, I haven’t even mentioned those yet. They are the sweetest thing. She won’t kiss yet, but when I kiss her, I usually kiss her on her forehead, and she will, oftentimes, lean her head in for me to do it again. So sweet! There have even been occasions where she will lean in for a kiss all on her own!! She’s a snuggle bunny, too. :) She’s really quite an affectionate little angel, which is, I’m sure, why she’s having such a difficult time. It just breaks my heart. That was what I had begun writing about the other night before I got interrupted. ;) I’m still just so heartbroken for her. I know that she will be fine, and I know that this is a good thing for her and her future. And, I know how much she WILL have, but for right now, she’s in a place NO ONE would want to be in. Just try, for one minute, to put yourself in her shoes, even as an adult, much less a child. Can you imagine being taken away from your whole life – everything – and be thrown into this whole new life, new faces, new places, new smells, you have no idea if these people really even care about you or not – you don’t even know what they are saying to you!! All of sudden lights are flashing everywhere, noises you’ve never heard are blaring in your ears (remember her orphanage had nothing – bare walls, no toys, the bare minimum). I feel so sad for her, yet so proud of her. As hard as this must be for her, she is starting to trust us. She’s taking little steps every day. She's just becoming happier in general. You can see it in her face, in her actions, in everything about her. We are so thankful for this! There are still many insecurities. She doesn’t want to put down for even one second, among many others, but that’s ok. I don’t blame her. Like I said, I can’t imagine what it must really be like for her. But, we’ll get there, and when we finally do, we may not even realize it right away. :)

Again, thank you all so much for all your prayers! They are truly appreciated, and they are definitely being heard! :)

Two nights ago in our hotel. Much better even then! :)

The train ride at the Safari. (Safari on Wheels)

Out shopping today. A happy girl! :)

“…If it all just happened overnight, you wouldn’t know how much it means.”