Saturday, July 28, 2012

Has it really been 6 weeks?

So many of you have been asking how Jack is doing, and more importantly you want more photos :-)  I'll write the update and make Stephen responsible for photos!

Jack came home with us 6 weeks ago today.  Like I said in my last post, it's hard to remember life before him...oh yes, we had a semi-clean house, maybe a few loads less laundry, less sticky hand prints on everything, less water on the bathroom floor, less noise...but these are part of the package and we love the package :-)

The second week home Jack visited the Pediatrician.  She thought he was doing great developmentally.  He is at the first percentile for height and weight.  We can't do anything about the height and he seems to be taking care of the underweight issues.  He is eating like food will go out of style!  We had bloods drawn for many things and they have all come back normal.  He was a real trooper having so much drawn.  He also had any immunizations administered that were needed.  We have an appointment at Children's Cardiology in just over a week. 

We had to go back to the Dr last week when Jack developed a cough and some wheezy noises in his airways similar to what we had one night in China.  The Dr felt he has some reactive airway issues, possibly compounded with the fact that we had a long period with high temperatures and no rain.  After about a week of using the inhaler he is much better.
We are hearing a few new words like bottle, milk, Megan(very loudly), up, down, one, two, three(and sometimes, one, three, two:-), go, out.  He says "lub you" which is so sweet.  While he's "all boy" he still is very tender and will give hugs and kisses out regularly.

Jacks LOVES to be outside and is very content combing the back yard for rocks, sticks, insects, etc.  His favorite place is in the water.  I've taken the kids to the lake a number of times and he has no fear of the water.  He loves floating on his tummy and his back and gets huge satisfaction from pouring water from his watering can over an unsuspecting person.  I'm so glad he loves the beach as that is one of Megan's favorite places to be in the summer.  These past few years we've bought a yearly pass to the State Park system and we've always got our money's worth.   On a recent trip to the lake we met another little girl who had the same familiar scar on her chest as Jack.  Her father asked me what Jack's condition was and his daughter had the same defect.  She's six so it was reassuring to hear of their experiences at the Herma Heart Center at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.

Three weeks home we had our first post placement visit from the Social Worker.  Jack was quite the ham trying all the tricks in the book to get her cell phone.  I hope, when she left, she felt we were a functional family!

Usually the first word Jack will utter in the morning is "bath".  He will also ask for one about 4 more times during the day.  Once he hears the water running, he has his clothes off and down the laundry chute in about 15 seconds.  He is also convinced he needs his nails clipped after every bath so the nail clippers are hidden in an "out of sight, out of mind" move. 

Clothes must be hidden too or you will find him "layering" all his clothes one on top of the other.  Sometimes the underwear ends up being the outer layer!  This past week Granny Lee sent him a shirt and trousers for the cooler weather.  He insisted on trying them on and there was much heartbreak when they were taken off.  It is hard to make him understand that they are in his room and he will wear them when he needs them.  I think much of this behavior comes from fact that he never saw more than one outfit at the orphanage.  He stockpiles shoes as well!  Megan was invited to a beach birthday party and Jack and I got to tag along too.  As I was talking to some of the other Mom's, a little girl was crying because she couldn't find her flip-flops.  Oh, oh, Jack was caught red handed, or pink-footed!

One of Jack's most recent tricks is flooding the main floor bathroom.  It's very small - just a toilet and sink squeezed into a room with no window.  Jack would climb up onto the toilet and from there to the sink where he would stand, plugging the drain with his foot(I had removed the plug).  He would turn the water on and let it run until it flowed onto the floor, with a little assistance of some waves created by his other foot.  You're probably wondering where I am when all this is going on.  He is SO quick.  I told him it was a "No, no" so the next time he went in, he closed the door without turning on the light and did the same thing in the dark!

He is also fascinated with keys and locks.  Right...Cory, Beth, John, Beth, Heather...and everyone else who has been smiled sweetly at and persuaded to hand over their keys?  He very quickly locates the red panic button.  The neighbors probably thought it was cute the first few times, but the keys are now kept out of reach.  You do however need to take them with you when you go to the mailbox, or you will find yourself locked out when you get back!  Now you understand why the house never gets cleaned and the ironing is piling up in the basement.  This child needs an anklet - just kidding :-)

Most people who see Jack on a regular basis know he loves to sing.  We try to sing a few songs most nights after dinner.  Megan gets to choose one and Jack now chooses by demonstrating an action that goes along with the song.  When we get it right he has the biggest smile on his face.  A few times we've absentmindedly started to eat dinner without giving thanks for the food.  Jack will immediately go, "oh, oh" and put his hands over his eyes and start to mumble.  Talk about feeling rebuked!

Some have asked how Jack is sleeping.  He sleeps well, when he gets over.  Night time and the accompanying tiredness expose his insecurities.  From messaging other families who have brought slightly older children home, this seems to be a common problem.  Jack would cry for up to an hour before he fell asleep exhausted.  We made a decision to have him feel more secure in his surroundings than worry about any bad habits forming.  He does like one of us to be close enough for him to touch as he falls asleep.  If we move before he is fully asleep he will be aware of it, as will you :-)  The time to fall asleep is generally getting shorter.  He has now transitioned to a toddler  bed that is wedged between our bed and the wall.  It gives him more space than the crib and removes the enjoyable challenge of climbing up and out.

Megan and Jack are getting along well.  While he is the one to initiate the hugs and kisses, she is enjoying the bond that is becoming more cemented each day.  Of course, they have their moments where he "destroys" her lego creation, or she takes something from him but they laugh at each other hysterically.  I don't think I've seen Megan laugh so much as I have these past few weeks.  She is proud of the fact that she has a sibling and expresses it to people who really don't need to know Jack's social history, but I guess that will wear off over time.

This update was longer than I intended.  See what happens when you e-mail me and tell me you haven't heard anything about Jack for a few weeks ;-)  Yes, it was overdue.  By the time everyone is settled for the night, I get to do the chores that can't be done during the day, and during the day, Jack would have ample time to flood the house by the time I would have written a post of this length.  I just hope we didn't give the Social Worker the link to our blog!

Jack did receive his certificate of naturalization in the mail, even though he became a US citizen when he landed in Chicago.   This little boy may have been born in China, but God has planted him deep within our hearts.

There is much more I could write but I'm sure most checked out after the first couple of paragraphs so I won't bore you with more. 

Over to Stephen for photos.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Thank You

It was one year ago today that we first "met" Jack.  That is, we opened our e-mail to find the cutest (solemn:-) little face looking back at us.  It was love at first sight.

In the 10 months that followed it was a flurry of homestudy's, fingerprinting, passport pictures, visa applications, copies of this and that, notarization, certification and authentication of documents, booking of tickets, packing, more paperwork in China...and then that first image became reality.

We have so many people to thank for making this all possible.  Please forgive us if we haven't mentioned you personally.  You are appreciated, even if your name is not coming to me at 4 am!

Our first thanks and praise is to God for thinking we could be entrusted with this precious little boy to add to our family.  We're glad we let Him choose.  His choices are always the best.

Thanks to family and friends for supporting and encouraging us throughout this journey.  At times it might have been easy to say, "we've waited for years, we can't wait any longer", or, "we can't afford the fees", or "the timing just doesn't seem to be right", but you all affirmed by your words and your actions that God HAD indeed called us on this journey and He would not let us down. 
To Stephen's parents, a HUGE "Thank You" for dropping everything and coming to stay with Megan while we were gone.  While we would have loved to have taken her with us, your sacrifice will never be forgotten.  To my sister and Mom who never stopped cheering us on, even during their own deep loss and sorrow, thanks for loving a little boy I know you are dying to meet.  To Stephen's sister, who instead of receiving gifts for a BIG:-) birthday, asked that money be donated to New Hope Foster Home, Beijing, who are part of Jack's story, thank you for your sacrifice, Shirley.

Thanks to our amazing adoption agency, CCAI.  They held our hands and led us step by step through all the paperwork.  They were very patient with us. They kept us updated constantly.  They displayed nothing but integrity and they made sure everything was taken care of before and during our trip.  Both the Colorado and China staff were a pleasure to work with.  Thanks also to the local agency who did our homestudy and notarized the many documents for us.

Thanks to our travel companions for putting up with us :-)  We traveled with the most amazing group of people who were adopting because God had placed it on their hearts.  Their love for their children and their travel companions was something that we have rarely seen.

Thanks to the Orphanage staff at Luoyang and also at MBHOH for loving our little boy and caring for all his needs.  Thanks to those who work behind the scenes at Show Hope for being there for us as well.  If you hadn't made yourselves known to us, we wouldn't have known some of Jack's story.

Thanks to the group of "online" friends who have encouraged us, answered questions and continue to cheer on all those who are coming after us with every turn of the adoption wheel.

Thanks to Stephen's employer who made it possible for him to take the time off work to travel and continues to be flexible.

Thanks to Lifesong for Orphans , an amazing foundation with a mission to fulfill the command in James 1:27.  Many may not know, but due to the high cost of international adoption, foundations like Lifesong accept applications for grants.  These committed folks review each application thoroughly (all your personal and financial information) and pray for guidance as to how(or if) they can help ease the financial burden.  They asked about our life and took into consideration that much of our adoption "resources" were reallocated to allow Megan and I to travel to Ireland to spend the last 3 months of 2011 with my Dad.  We are humbled (and I can hardly think about this without the tears flowing) that Lifesong felt our family could use a matching grant.  That is, they have designated a certain amount of money to Jack's adoption fees and will match, dollar for dollar, gifts sent to them towards our fees up to the amount they have decided.  Considering the hundreds of applications they receive in any given year, they cannot give freely to everyone.  We believe God heard our prayer and answered it through them and others.

Lastly, thanks to a little boy, (who may not think much about this until he's older), for accepting us as his family, as crazy as we may appear to be.  Hang in there, Jack.  We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.

 "Yes, the LORD has done amazing things for us! What joy!"  Psalm 126:3