Saturday, November 5, 2011

Update and signing off!

I wanted to share one last post before ending our adoption blog.  Amelia has been a busy girl lately.  She was evaluated for speech and had a global developmental evaluation as well.  She is doing great in everything except for expressive language.  We were very encouraged by the evaluations and are looking forward to getting her speech therapy started soon.  We would love for her to be able to communicate better so she isn't frustrated.  She does well with signing and usually can get her point across, but I know it would be so much easier for her if she could use words!

She had her two-year-old check-up last week.  She is at the 75% for height and off the chart for weight!  She is 32 pounds -- no wonder I feel like I need a massage!  She got a clean bill of health and didn't even peep when she got her flu mist or immunizations!

Amelia celebrated her 2nd birthday a couple of weeks ago.  We had a pumpkin theme for her party.

She enjoyed all of her gifts, but the cards that sing were the absolute best!

She got her gifts from us on her actual birthday, and we have had many tea parties since then.

We have started the proceedings for her readoption in IL (mostly so she will be able to get an IL birth certificate whenever she needs one), and we had to take her to the county sheriff's office to be served her court papers.  Her court date is scheduled for January 6th.

Amelia thoroughly enjoyed her first Halloween.  We don't go crazy over this holiday, but we do let the kids dress up and take them around to family members and a few friends to trick or treat.  Amelia's costume was easy - she went as the China doll that she is!  After about the second stop she had the candy thing all figured out and eagerly held up her bucket at each house.

Overall, Amelia continues to amaze us.  She is easy-going, caring, affectionate, mostly compliant, and generally a very happy little girl.  Every once in a while she has a moment that reminds us that she has only recently joined our family -- a nightmare that leaves her in tears, short moments of time when she seems to withdraw a bit.  But these are far between and short-lived, and we are so thankful that she is doing so well.  To God be the glory!

This will be my last post, as the purpose of this blog was to chronicle our adoption process, and our Amelia has now been with us for nearly 5 months!  Thanks for following along!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Look who was sneaking in the pantry

The catch on one of our pantry doors broke, which means Little Miss can now open the door whenever she pleases.  She was quiet for just a little too long the other day, and this is what I found when I went looking for her.

"Look at this great big blue box I found with little bitty crunchy things in it!" 

"Am I not supposed to be doing this right now?"

Happy Fall!

We've been busy enjoying all the activities of fall here in the midwest.  We took Amelia for her first trip to the apple orchard, and she had a great time.  It didn't take long for her to figure out what to do!  She had fun picking apples and carrying them carefully to the bag.

Amelia still hasn't picked up much English -- just a few words that come and go.  We decided to go ahead and have a speech evaluation done.  She's only heard English since June and she communicates well by signing and gestures and her few words, so we thought about holding off.  A speech pathologist friend of mine noticed that the sounds Amelia makes are mostly in her throat.  She doesn't have a "b" or "p" sound at all, so she might really benefit from some speech therapy.  We decided that if she needs some help, there's no reason to put it off.  So tomorrow we have a meeting to fill out paperwork, and then we'll have an assessment done.  Hoping they will be able to help her and give us some guidance in working with her!

We are still feeling so blessed by our sweet girl.  She has such a fun, jolly personality!  She loves to tease us.  For example, when Mark or I wash our hands in our guest bath, she runs in laughing, grabs the hand towel, and runs away with it!  She then brings it back, just grinning from ear to ear.  She is also very concerned about others.  If one of the other kids is hurt, she will go over to them, look carefully at their face, and rub their back with her little hands.  She is sweet, silly, and fun, and we are so thankful to be her forever family!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Orthopedist report

Today we took Amelia to see a pediatric orthopedist. Her pediatrician wanted him to evaluate her feet, since according to her referral she was born with "crossed feet that have been corrected." When we first got her, her legs were very bowed but her feet always seemed okay, and her legs have gradually straightened the longer we have been home. Well, the orthopedist said that if she had truly had clubbed feet, which is what everyone thought "crossed feet" were, it is very unusual that she would look and function as well as she does now. His thought is that perhaps her legs were bowed simply because of how she was positioned in utero and that those things often self-correct. So, he said she doesn't need anything else done. She can wear any type of shoes. The end result is that our daughter, labeled as a special needs child, seems to be completely healthy! We are so thankful and praising the Lord for His grace in Amelia's life! We know that adoptive families often face more issues than they were expecting, and we feel so blessed that our Amelia's special need has turned out to be a non-issue. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

New pictures

Here are some pictures of Amelia taken just a couple of days ago. She continues to blossom, and her little personality shows itself more and more. She is silly and loves to tease. She can now point to several body parts (mostly because she loves "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes"). She also can do a perfect somersault. We are still waiting for her to really start talking, although she is slowly adding words to her vocabulary. She is a very busy girl, which makes homeschooling the other kids a challenge! We love her so much and are so thankful that the Lord blessed us with her!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Good News, Bad News

It's hard to believe we've had Amelia for just over two months already! The days are really flying by. Our doctor wanted to do some recommended testing, and we've gotten the results back this week. First, the good news. My poor baby had to have SIX vials of blood taken to do all the testing they wanted to do. My dear husband -- and my hero! --- took her to have that done while I stayed home with the other kids. We found out this week that all of the blood work was normal! We had a few questions about some results that came with her referral back in January, so we were thrilled that she seems completely healthy! Praise the Lord!

On the other hand, we found out today that Amelia has giardia, an intestinal parasite that comes from contaminated water. That explains the consistently nasty diapers. . . We will be starting treatments for that as soon as the pharmacy has it ready. Apparently the medication does not normally come in a liquid form, but there is one pharmacy nearby that will make it for us that way. Hopefully it works quickly for her.

We have an appointment with the pediatric orthopedist in early September to have Amelia's feet evaluated, and then we should hopefully be through with the doctor's visits for awhile!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


We came home after church on Sunday and made chocolate chip pancakes for lunch. This is something our older two kids love, and something Amelia had not yet experienced. Somehow I think she was quite pleased!

We'll be doing this again!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Isn't she just precious?

I just couldn't resist sharing one more picture of our little miss!

Weekend in Michigan

It is a tradition of ours to take a trip to Michigan each summer. Some years we are fortunate enough to go all the way up to Mackinac Island; other years when we have less time we enjoy being in the Holland area. We spend time at the beach, pick blueberries, shop, eat ice cream, etc. It's something that has become very important to all of us over the years. This year, since we used so much vacation time in China, we opted just to take a long weekend trip to Holland. We left Thursday night after work and came home Sunday. It was just long enough to squeeze in all the things we love about Michigan.

Amelia traveled really well. She got nervous and quiet when we first went into the hotel, but once she realized that we were all sleeping in the same room, she started blowing us all kisses from the crib and making herself giggle.

She LOVES blueberries. This is a good thing, because we brought home almost 50 pounds of them! She sat in her stroller begging us all for more while we were picking.

Amelia did NOT like the sand at the beach. It was kind of like when we first came home and she didn't want anything to do with grass. So she sat on the big blanket and played happily with the sand toys. As long as there wasn't actually sand in them!

We have several favorite restaurants and ice cream places that we like to visit. In fact, sometimes it's hard to fit them all in. We have been known to plan our day around getting to a particular ice cream or gelato stop.

We had a great weekend and were so pleased that Amelia was with us to enjoy it too -- hopefully her first of many visits to one of our favorite places!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Home one month

One month ago today, our plane landed in Peoria, and we were never so glad to be home! Amelia has done so well and has been such a blessing to our family. She has a sparkle in her eyes now! We have seen marvelous changes in her in the short time she's been home. We know she was in a "good" orphanage; she was well-cared for and loved by her nannies. But even a good orphanage cannot replace a family! Our sweet girl gives us kisses freely and asks for them by holding up her little arm like she's hurt herself. I can kiss her anywhere and she goes away happy.

She has definitely been slowing down with how much she eats over the last few days -- a good sign that she trusts us to provide food for her. She has become pickier about what she eats and has even turned down food, which never would have happened just a short time ago.

She loves her sister and brother. When they wake up in the morning, Evan goes into the girls' room and they all play and entertain Amelia until we are ready to get her out of the crib. It's sweet to hear them all laughing and playing together, having their own bonding time.

We are still waiting for her to start saying more words. She seems to be losing the Mandarin words she knew and hasn't quite picked up the English equivalents yet. So she's actually saying fewer words now, but we know that she'll start speaking more when she's ready. Her receptive language is very good. She seems to understand most of what we say to her, and she follows simple directions fairly well.

Her hair is softer and shinier and her skin is clearing up from the rash and bug bites she had when we got her. Her legs are so much stronger than they were, as well. Overall, she is really doing amazingly well. We are so encouraged and can't wait to see how she continues to grow and blossom over the months to come! We give God all the glory for how well she has adjusted.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What a difference a month makes!

Gotcha day - one month ago

Now -- our happy girl!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Amelia update

We took Amelia for her first doctor's appointment on Thursday. She was definitely well-fed in China -- she's in the 95th percentile for weight! She weighs just over 29 pounds at 20 months. Our doctor was very pleased with how she's doing. She wants Amelia to see a pediatric orthopedist about her feet, but she thinks that he will probably just want to monitor her. Her legs are okay, but the doctor feels that she doesn't walk correctly, perhaps because her feet are so flat. Other than that, she is doing great! We are so thankful not to have any major health concerns with her.

We are amazed at how well Amelia is doing. She has gotten so much stronger in the short time that we have been home. In China she was very wobbly when she walked and had trouble standing up from a squatting position. Now she goes up and down stairs, runs, climbs, and more with no trouble. She is a great eater and is doing better about drinking milk. She sleeps at least eleven hours at night and naps for about two hours in the afternoon with no fuss. Her orphanage behaviors such as throwing things, hitting, biting, and scratching are becoming less frequent. She is learning to sign "please" which seems to help cut down on the whining a little bit. We know that many families have a much harder adjustment period than we have. We know that it is only God's grace that has allowed Amelia to join our family so easily, and we praise Him for all He is doing in her life!

The rest of us are doing well, too, although I continue to find myself exhausted by the end of the day. I can't really keep blaming jet lag, as I am getting plenty of sleep! I think I'm still getting used to having another little person around all day, and trying to balance her needs with the needs of the older two, while still maintaining some sense of order in the house. Hopefully this will all feel "normal" before too long. I seem to do best when we have somewhere to go rather than staying home all day long. Not sure how that's going to work once we start schooling again this fall. . .

Here are a few things we have learned about Amelia since we've been home:
  • She's hungry often, and it's best not to make her wait too long to eat!
  • She is still unsure of grass, trees, and flowers. I don't think she saw any of these in China.
  • She tolerates the dog now, unless Sugar is under her chair while she's eating.
  • She says a few words, half in English (mama, dada, no, Amelia) and half in Mandarin (brother, sister, dog) and babbles a lot.
  • She loves shoes but will not tolerate hair bows or jewelry.
  • She doesn't much like the swimming pool.
  • She LOVES strawberry milk. When she gets one you would think she hadn't had liquid for days!
  • She likes to be tickled.
  • She likes to play in the bath tub, but not necessarily to be washed.
Here are a few pictures from the past few days. Enjoy!

Amelia LOVED the Old Settlers' Days parade in Metamora.

Ready for church

Our three fire crackers!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Homecoming Pictures

Here are a few pictures of our arrival in Peoria, with thanks to our dear friend Lisa S!

Family and friends waiting to meet us!

It was so nice to be so warmly welcomed home!

Our new American citizen, taking it all in.

Elizabeth wore a shirt that said "jie jie" (big sister) and Evan's said "ge ge" (big brother). Amelia's shirt said "Made in China."
Our sweet girl!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It's good to be home!

on the train to Hong Kong

the LONG flight to Chicago

only 7779 miles to go!

It is so nice to be home again! We are settling in and beginning to figure our days and nights out. It's wonderful to be able to drink water from the tap, to eat fruits and vegetables, and to sleep in our own beds. Our wonderful care group from church had stocked our fridge for us with lots of yummy things, and we have been receiving meals from our Sunday school class. We are very blessed to have such a wonderful church family!

It seems as though many people have the same questions, so in case you're wondering, I'll answer some of them here.

1. How is Amelia adjusting?
She is doing very well overall. She had a horrible night Friday night -- she was up for the better part of the night crying inconsolably. We think she figured out that this is the last stop and that she's not going back to her orphanage. It didn't seem to matter what we did or even if we were in the room with her. We tried everything; she just didn't want us. It was miserable for all of us. We have been trying to stay awake during the day to recover from jet lag, but when you can't sleep at night either it's pretty rough! Thankfully, that seems to have been her one bad night. Since then she has been sleeping really well. She is playful and active and smiley during the days, especially here at home. She gets shy and won't smile when we're in new situations or around new people. She also doesn't like to smile when we have the camera out! Developmentally she seems to be doing well. She babbles a lot and has said mama, dada, and Amelia. She can go up the stairs easily but doesn't know how to go down. We can tell that she hasn't been read to. She doesn't know what to do with books and pushes them shut when we try to read to her. We'll keep working on that!

2. How are the other kids doing?
It seems that our immune systems may be a bit compromised due to all the travel, as Evan and Elizabeth have both been sick in the last couple of days. Evan woke up with a fever and sore throat over the weekend, and Elizabeth has been feeling poorly and sleeping all day today. It took Amelia a few days to warm up to them, which was especially hard on Elizabeth. She felt a little rejected and thought she wasn't being a good sister. Now that Amelia enjoys them more, things are going better. Elizabeth likes sharing her room so far.

3. What about Amelia's special need?
She was born with clubbed feet, which have already been corrected. She looks a little bow-legged, which we will ask her doctor about next week, but she walks fine and doesn't seem to have any trouble. We are thankful that her need seems to be so very minor!

Overall, things are going very well, and we are so thankful! I think the most challenging thing now is knowing how to balance meeting Amelia's need for bonding and attachment with our need not to let a toddler dominate our home. We are teaching her what "no" means while making sure she feels loved and safe. It's impossible to know whether some of her behaviors are adoption related or just stem from being a toddler! Please pray for wisdom for us as we set boundaries for her while helping her feel secure and loved.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. And a boat.

Well, we're home! I'm feeling the effects of jet lag tonight, but here's a quick update. I hope it makes sense! Our last evening in Guangzhou we went on a dragon boat cruise of the Pearl River with some other Holt families. It was amazing and one of the highlights of our trip. The boat was beautiful, and our guide made arrangements so that we could sit on the top deck. The buildings and bridges are all lit up, and we cruised past Guangzhou Tower, which is the tallest building in China. The lights on the tower change color and it is so cool to watch!

Wednesday morning we packed everything (again), spent the last of our Chinese money, and ate lunch at the Deli Shop near the White Swan hotel. They have amazing ham and cheese buns -- we ate them two days in a row! We met our guide at 3:00 and drove by the US Consulate to pick up Amelia's passport with visa on the way to the train station. Praise the Lord that it was ready on time with no problems. We got to the train station plenty early and waited with our guide. She was very helpful with buying our tickets, arranging for a porter to help with our luggage, and telling us what to do when it was time to board the train. We had to go through customs and immigration since we were leaving mainland China for Hong Kong. The train ride was pleasant, and we arrived in Hong Kong around 8:00. Another guide met us at the station, helped us with our bags, and had a van to take us to the Regal Airport Hotel. Wow! This was by far the nicest hotel we stayed in; too bad we were only there for twelve hours. The rooms were huge and it smelled fresh and clean -- a nice change after the musty feeling of our hotel in Guangzhou.

Thursday morning we walked from the hotel through an enclosed walkway to the airport. We had decided a couple of days before to purchase a ticket for Amelia, and the very helpful United agent moved all of our seats so we could all sit together. We are so glad we had that extra seat, because Amelia slept about half of the fourteen-hour flight in it! Once again, it was L-O-N-G, but everyone traveled well, and we made it to Chicago! As soon as the plane landed, Amelia became a US citizen. We had to go through immigration, customs, hand over her visa packet, go through security, and Mark had to check in for the last flight because of some computer error in Hong Kong that wouldn't let him check in for both flights at once. We made it to our gate with just enough time to grab some dinner. All three kids slept on the flight to Peoria.

What a welcome sight it was to see many family and friends there to greet us! We are so thankful for our church's orphan ministry and for the support we have had all along this journey! It was a blessing to be met with signs, balloons, hugs, and smiles from so many people! We got to our own sweet home around 7:30, approximately 24 hours after beginning the trip. Amelia loved exploring the house and even climbed our whole staircase by herself. She evidently had not seen grass before, as she resolutely refused to walk on it and cried when we tried to set her down in it!

We are so grateful to the Lord for how smoothly everything went during our trip. We had NO problems at all with travel, connections, finding our various guides, any paperwork, or sickness. Praise God, and THANK YOU to all who prayed for us so faithfully! It was a great experience, and now we are happy to be home again!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Consulate appointment

This morning Mark, Amelia, and I got up bright and early for our appointment at the US Consulate. We had to apply for Amelia's visa, which will be issued tomorrow, and then we can come home! Because we are staying at the Victory Hotel, we were on our own for transportation to the consulate, so our agency helped us book a car through the hotel. Everything was going smoothly and I was just feeling thankful that we were in a private car with Amelia sleeping on my shoulder. And then, about five minutes before we arrived at the consulate, she threw up. All over me and herself. And just as we got our wits about us and realized what was going on, the second wave came. We tried to mop ourselves off with baby wipes and got a little panicked as we saw she had blessed the inside of the rented car as well. We think she was just car sick, as she has seemed fine ever since. But just let me say that there will be no more strawberry milk around here anytime soon! So feeling yucky and wet, we made it to the consulate appointment. There were twelve families at the 8:30 appointment. We took an oath as a group saying that all our paperwork was true and then they called each family up to a window to sign one last form. That was it! We rode back to the hotel in the same car, which thankfully the driver had cleaned up while we were gone, tipped the poor man, and showered immediately.

We did a bit more shopping, and I think we are all done now. The question has become whether or not we need to buy an extra suitcase to get it all home! Amelia is napping right now, and I have an "exit meeting" to go to soon. Tonight we are planning on taking a cruise on the Pearl River with our Holt group, and tomorrow we prepare to come home.

sleepy girl

beautiful Shamian island

one of many bridal couples we have seen getting their pictures taken

some of the many shops on the island

Safari Park

We spent the day today at the safari park here is Guangzhou.  It was great!  The park is so big -- we didn't have time to see all the animals in the five or six hours we were there.  We started by taking a trolley ride through part of the park.  The animals are very close to the trolley and easy to see.  The funniest thing was the camels; there were six or eight of them chasing each other around in circles!  I'd never seen camels running before, but it was worth the trip!  After the trolley ride we walked through the other part of the park and saw the elephant and tiger shows.  The kids all enjoyed the park, and it was a great way to spend the day.

The weather has really been pretty nice.  It's not as hot as we had feared since there has been some rain, but it is SO humid here.  The sheets on the bed feel damp all the time, even with the AC on.  There is a somewhat musty smell everywhere, and our allergies are beginning to act up.  

Amelia is still doing well.  She does great all day and doesn't like it when either of us are out of her sight, which is a good sign that she is bonding with us.  She will even let me hold her when Mark is around, which is a big change from a couple of days ago.  The last two nights she has had a harder time falling asleep and has woken up in the night crying.  We think that as she is beginning to attach to us she is more afraid of us not being there when she wakes.  We're trying to help her through this however we can.  We have to remember that she has only been with us for six days, and she really is doing amazingly well.  During the day she is happy, giggly, and fun.  And she is SMART.  Twice now she has followed directions we have given her in English, and she has said "Amelia" a couple of times.  She has a couple of orphanage behaviors that we need to work on (hitting, for one) but overall she is very well-behaved.  She can sit patiently in a high chair with nothing to entertain her for an impressively long time!

We are still having some internet trouble, but I'm going to try to attach a few pictures from today.  We are ready to come home!