A day of Firsts

It has been a fairly normal day around here, yet miraculous. Throughout the day, it was obvious to distinguish the things Lucy was doing for the first time. Her delight and surprise while discovering these things brought so much joy to us!

First time opening a present

First time walking on carpeted stairs

First time playing little people

First time swinging (whoa this was big!)
-screamed with delight and we could not push her too high because she was not used to balancing

First time learning how to knock on a door

First family dinner and blessing..
(Finn prayed the same prayer that he prayed the whole time we were waiting for her yet this time she was sitting right there with us!!)

First chips n salsa and choc chip cookie

Then this is really cool. At some point Finn was banging on the conga drums in the den!! We looked up and she was dancing on the coffee table! She can definitely feel the rhythm of the drums. Her back was turned to the drums and when he stopped playing she stopped and turned around when the beat stopped. Sean took over and everyone had an impromptu dance session.


Details on Coming Home

Hello to all our family and friends:

We just wanted to communicate with everyone before we arrive home from China. No doubt, we'll be happy to see everyone when we are back in the airport. We know everyone will be excited to see us, especially Lucy. There has been a good bit of research that we've read and taken counsel from, regarding an adopted child's entry into their new country. Our primary focus is Lucy's proper bonding with our family. Although it is going well this first week in China, there is still more ground to plow, so to speak. It is still clear to us that she still needs time to fully understand the life of a family. Lucy still needs to meet her brothers and begin bonding with them. She will need to understand who our family unit is and our relationship to each other, first and foremost. The best way to do this is to keep her world very simple for a little while so that she can learn who her family is through experience and repetition.

There are some things about adoptive parenting that are the same as parenting a biological child. There are also quite a few areas that we have learned are different. Through our adoption agency, the UAB International Adoption Clinic, books, other adoptive parents, adoption social workers, psychologists and more, we have learned that our baby needs a specific type of environment and parenting when he/she first comes home in order to feel safe and secure and to learn how to live successfully in our family.

When our child gets home, at the recommendation of experienced adoption professionals, we need to implement specific parenting approaches to help encourage a strong, attached, emotionally healthy family member. Our child needs to learn that we're the parents. She needs to feel nurtured and safe. She is not used to having parents to love and care for her.

Here are some things we will be doing for our child based on research and experience with other adopted children. We'll be living a quieter life with limited trips out and few visitors in for a little while. Social workers and psychologists tell us that when children are first adopted, they may be overwhelmed, scared, and nervous. By keeping our lives very boring at first, we'll be helping our child feel safe. We will have to limit interaction outside of immediate family so it is not overwhelming. I know a number of people are planning to meet us at the airport when we arrive home. That will be wonderful and touching for us to see so many familiar and supportive faces when we arrive. We will just have to be mindful of overloading Lucy with new things and people.

If you are coming to the airport, we ask that everyone give Henry and Finn a chance to approach us first so that they can meet their new sister and reunite with their family!! Not that we are expecting any, but just to be sure, we ask that you do not bring any gifts for Lucy or her siblings. Please do not hand anything to Lucy directly. Any food or treats need to be given to Lucy by her parents for now. We know that this sounds a little extreme.. so we thank you so much for your sensitivity to helping support Lucy's bonding to our family.

We know you'll all want to hug, kiss and help spoil Lucy, but it is recommended that we be the only ones to do that at first to improve her chances of attaching strongly to us. Until we feel our child has attached and clearly knows we are her parents, we will need to be her main caretakers and givers of affection.

As strange as it may seem, adopted children who act very outgoing and affectionate with strangers is not a healthy thing. It is called "indiscriminate affection" and can mean that they haven't really attached to anyone. It would not be a good sign that Lucy has attached to us if during his first months home she will let just anyone take her and hold her without searching for her mom or dad. If you are greeting us at the airport and Lucy tries to come to someone other than her parents or siblings, or reaches out for you, simply direct her back to us gently.

For sure it is going to be a weird and wonderful experience for us. We are so excited and can't wait to bring our Lucy home so you can all see her and get to know her. Things are just a little different when you are adopting rather than having a biological child. She will be adapting to a lot of new things . . . new parents, new family, new home, new foods, new time zone (totally opposite what she's used to). That's a lot to swallow at one time.

We appreciate your understanding in reading this. We've writing you all this letter so that you will understand how dedicated and committed we are to helping our new child adjust and adapt during this stressful time in her life. We feel confident that everything is going better than we expected and in due time, Lucy will be fully bonded and attached to her family and be able to enjoy getting to know the incredible community that we live in!!

Here is another blog post that was written by a fellow adoptive family from our agency that we feel communicates our heart about this matter, as well:


Here is our most recent flight information for our flight home:

Flight # KE 33 (Korean Air)

Arrives ATL 8:15pm on Thursday, August 8th at the new International Terminal.   *We are expecting to come through customs and immigration and come to the arrivals gate around 8:45pm - 9pm*

Love you all and see you soon!


Orphanage Visit Wednesday.

We visited Lucy's orphanage on Wednesday..

We had spent so much time on our journey across the street to Starbucks to buy some tea as gifts, that we ended up feeding the girls lunch in the hotel room.  Lucy loved her instant noodles, peanut butter, and Ritz.. haha.. a very western version of a Chinese meal!!

Jane (the Hefei guide from Somewhere Between) picked us up at 2pm  Can I say that I just love this lady?  There are 6 families here this week adopting in Anhui and she is guiding them all at once.  So we don't get as much quality time with her, but on this day she accompanied us the the orphanage and we just love her heart.  She is great at her job, but she truly has a heart for the kids.  She remembers their faces, their names, their likes and dislikes, how long each one has been waiting - and she advocates for them.  On tuesday, when we were at Civil Affairs, Jane reached out for Lucy's hand while she was in my arms.. Lucy slowly retracted her hand back from Jane and put it around my neck (I was holding her) and Jane laughed and said, "Oh!! she already prefers you to me- this is good!"
She went on to say.. "The orphanage director asked my help in finding a family for this girl.. so at that time I took pictures and video and sent her information to Lifeline to help find a family"... I am so amazed at the intricate timing and working of adoption and all that goes on that we don't even see.  I keep saying this word - Remarkable.

What I will also say about the following pictures and account, is that it is only half the story.  Our memories and our memory cards, contain dozens more pictures that tell a different story, the story of those still waiting.  Weeping as I type this and with chills all over, I can truly say that Sean and I both will continue to see this faces before us.  I wish I could share them with you here.. but will be sharing some of them with Lifeline's wonderful waiting kids who does a great job of advocating for waiting children and if they are able put these kids on their site, I will be sure to let you know!!

So, we arrived at the Hefei, CWI (Child Welfare Institute) at around 2:20, just before afternoon classes at the school.  Half the Sky operates here at this CWI and they all do an incredible job teaching the kids and bringing to them opportunity to learn in many ways!!

As soon as Lucy saw the gates, she started bawling. I hate that she had to endure the fear because she did not understand what was happening, but I knew that it would be worth it for her to discover that she was only there to say goodbye and have the chance to see that she was leaving with her forever family.. 

When we first arrived we sat in the lobby while Jane took care of some paperwork in the office.  The security guards were messing with Lucy.. just poking fun at herb because she was crying. The one smiley guy (you will see him in the pictures below).. He motioned to Lucy.. do you want to go over to the apartments (wave of hand) and eat? (Feed himself from imaginary bowl) and she looked horrified and waved her hands and shook her head NO!!

We went upstairs to her class and she cried again.  When we got to the class she held on tight until we pulled out some donations for the class.  When she saw the big ziploc bag full of dum dums, the light turned on for her!! She had seen others come back and hand out lollipops to the class and then leave again.  So she jumped right down and confidently handed out the lollipops to each child.  Such precious kids in her class.  We have a great video of this, but you know it would take like 3 hours to upload so we will share later.. She hugged her teachers goodbye.

Then we visited a couple other classes to take updated pictures of some children who are waiting on the shared list.  One highlight of our visit was seeing my friend Katie's girls.  As we approached the door to their classroom, I saw Louisa's wheelchair and my breath caught.  To be in a place on the other side of the world that we had dreamed about visiting together for so long..and to see these girls in the flesh, to meet them, to hug them, to tell them their family is coming.. to see the delight on their faces, their artwork hanging on the wall.  It was an honor and a privilege that I have not taken lightly. We played a video on Sean's phone of Katie and Rob telling their girls that they love them and also sharing with them what their English names will be.  We videoed the girls watching the video.. we played it for them again.  Then the teacher asked Zoe.. "Will you be their friend when they get to US.. Will you help them in US??" Zoe said yes!! Zoe hugged both girls then of course Lucy hugged both girls..( she copies everything Zoe does.) Love the picture of the 4 girls together.. So surreal, yet so normal.  Can't wait to see them all together in the Lee's crossing swimming pool!!

Last thing we did was go over to Lucy's foster mom's apartment.  Foster mom was waiting outside with a big smile.. Lucy lost it here the hardest.  She did not want to go in.  But I held her and signed.. I am your mom, I am your mom.. She repeated the sign mom, nodding her head and holding tight to me.. We went inside and Foster mom was laughing so much, couldn't believe how much she was crying.. She opened a couple baskets and took the gifts we gave her out of the gift bag and started filling it up with tons of pre wrapped candy and treats for Lucy.. Lucy didn't want any. ha ha.. We talked to Foster mom a good bit.. hearing all about Lucy.. it felt like too short a time to talk to the woman who has been mothered your child for the last year.  We saw the rooms where she slept.. on the sunny side of the apartment in winter to stay warm, and on the shady side in summer to stay cool.  Foster mom told us that Lucy likes to be very clean, likes the girly clothes, is a smart and happy girl.  Foster mom commented to Lucy that she liked her new shoes.  This was such a joyful woman.  So happy.. also so very put together herself.  The home impeccable, not a hair out of place.. perfectly clean shoes and socks, very very smiley the entire time.  She was also SO ecstatic to receive a photo album from an adoptive mother in the states who I have met online.  Kim adopted Lakelin in December and Foster mom was overjoyed to receive updated pictures of a girl she had cared for many years and had a special love for.  She asked PLEASE would we send to her pictures like this and of course we said yes, having seen what a blessing it was to her..

On the way out, I thought this was profound.  Lucy was in Daddy's arms at this point.  As we were exiting the apartment, her entire body relaxed.  Her countenance changed.  She had a little smile emerge on her face and began to blow kisses and wave goodbye to Foster mom. Foster mom motioned for a kiss on the cheek and Lucy leaned over, putting arm around sean and foster mom at same time, kissing mom on cheek and then putting arm back around Sean's neck and hand on his face.  She blew kisses and waved as we walked away.

I have to say.. we know this is the kind of orphanage visit you only dream of.  This CWI is amazing.  The kids there are well taken care of.  Well prepared for adoption.  They are just waiting for the love of a forever family to come along and call them in.

So many of our desires were met in this visit.  The communication  barrier with a deaf child was traversed.  Though words were not able to explain what was happening, she understood in her heart as we drove away - this undeserved gift of her in our lap.

On top of all that, Half the Sky gifted us with a life book.. the last 3.5 years of her life documented in chinese text and pictures.  We now know what our daughter looked like on the day she was admitted to the CWI, as a baby drinking a bottle with her nanny, grasping plastic toys, pushing up, crawling, taking her first steps, and more.  She has always been incredibly cute.  While we were raising Finn on the other side of the world.. this little girl was accomplishing the exact same milestones at the same time here in China.. Riding away drinking from her sippy cup, it is hard to imagine she was ever without us. The days lost will be restored to us and to her.

We will always glance back and remember, telling her about her protective cocoon.. but for today she is emerging, spreading her wings.. and flying forward.

This picture is showing recent pic of Lucy with Foster parents.. 

And then this picture shows Katie's Louisa lived with same foster parents at one time.. 
(Kim's Lakelin in blue coat to the right of Louisa under foster mom)

Then this pic below shows Lucy having moved in with same foster mom after Louisa moved back into orphanage before Lakelin was adopted.. Lakelin holding pink balloon, Lucy in middle with some pink puffs in her hair, or lack thereof.

Below.. Lucy with Jane

Us with Jane in hotel Lobby and her assistant, Anna.. 


A Remarkable Day!!

Lucy Love,
These pictures tell the story..

We joyfully anticipated your arrival
A precious little girl entered the room
Timid at first
A light up spinning toy broke the ice
Then imagine your surprise when you discovered the magic of a magna doodle
Slowly you put it all together 
You embraced your new family
and started a new day
We will never forget.