Monday, January 30, 2012

Blessed, peaceful sleep

Dear family and friends,

You have carried us along. Thank you—beyond words—for praying for my family and me!
Thank you!
Thank you!

This weekend was a busy one for us. Our church had a missions conference, which meant a change to Andrew’s schedule (including being out at night and staying up late). If there was a time for his nightmares and night terrors to be at their worst, this weekend would have been the time. However, I am so thankful to report that Andrew did not wake up one time during the night the last two nights.
Not once!
Andrew (and, therefore, momma) slept through the night the last two nights!

Andrew usually has 2-3 nightmares between his bedtime and mine, but he had none for the last two nights!

Our hearts are overflowing with gratitude—toward each person who prayed that God would grant Andrew peaceful sleep and toward the God of the universe Who hears prayers and cares for the little ones.


With tears of gratitude,
Julie (for the family—who also had the opportunity to sleep through the last two nights J)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Changes. Transitions.

So much has occurred in the last two weeks. So, I will give a brief overview.

Some relatives came to visit for several days, and they brought a dog. Andrew is terrified of dogs.

Did I mention terrified?
Just checkin’.

To make a long story short, Andrew had way too many encounters with the dog. Compile that with the fact that I had thrown out my back while they were here, and even with my back brace on I was barely able to lift Andrew. Thus, I could not be his constant rescuer.

Skip to the third day they were here in town, and Andrew began to have nightmares and night terrors. It was so bad that he was up screaming at least 15 times that night alone. By the middle of the night I had moved into the bed that is in his room so that I could get to him quickly. It. was. bad!

The next day I kept Andrew at home alone with me. My goal was to wrap him in the security he so desperately needed. As the days passed, the nightmares and night terrors ended. Once again, he began sleeping through the night--13 hours of undisturbed rest. It was wonderful.

Well, that is, until our social worker and her trainee came to make a visit this past Sunday. They stayed for about two hours, leaving about an hour and a half before Andrew went to bed for the night. Once again, the night terrors enveloped him.

The poor little guy! I wonder if, when he sees other people in our house, he thinks he will be taken away from us. I wonder if the abandonment issues resurface through the avenue of nightmares and night terrors.

This past Wednesday evening I tried to sneak out of the house to take Cherish to Pioneer Clubs at our church. I left just before 7 p.m. when Andrew was being put down to bed (so he wouldn’t see me leave and have a hard time). Unfortunately, in getting him ready for bed and trying to keep his routine the same, I forgot my purse when I left the house. Thus, I came back in the house, and he saw me. He saw me leave for the evening, too.

The nightmares and night terrors started up again.

It hurts my heart so much to know he is suffering psychologically. However, I know Someone Who is able and capable of healing Andrew’s little broken heart!

To switch gears (but to add to the changes and transitions), Cherish began preschool this week. She had wanted to attend school, but with her constant belly pain and our trip to China, we needed to wait for enrollment. We had told Cherish that she could attend school once her belly pain became controlled, once we returned home from China (due to missing too many days for the VPK program), and if the school had any openings.

While we were in China, Cherish’s abdomen pain practically disappeared! She only had two belly aches the whole trip! It was amazing!

Then, after we got home from China, and Cherish had worked through her jetlag and illnesses (pink eye, etc.), we called the school to see if there were any openings. There were none.

Several days later we received a call and found out a seat became available in the VPK program, but only in the M-F, 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. time slot. We gladly accepted the spot.

So, Cherish began VPK on Monday, January 23, at our church’s preschool. A little late, but definitely better late than never.

Cherish's First Day of VPK:

She loves her precious teachers and wakes up (on her own) 2 hours early each day to get ready for school. She even reminds us she needs to go to bed early, because she's a "school girl" now. J

The downside of the schedule is that the morning hours were Cherish and Andrew’s concentrated playtime together, but now they are not together. Also, as soon as Cherish gets home from school, Andrew hits the bed for a much-needed nap. Thus, it means more time away from each other.

We’ve noticed sadness and anxiety in both of the kiddos. These siblings love each other!

So, we are all trying to find a routine where everyone is together in the late afternoons and early evenings for bonding to continue.

Since I have Andrew alone in the mornings, I’ve made it my practice to study him. I have found that if I simply lie on the ground (like the doll Layla), I receive the same treatment Layla used to receive. Strangely enough, over the past four days, Andrew has lost most of his interest in Layla. Now, he is seeking love and hugs and cuddle time from me.

And when Andrew is handing out sweet love, there. is. no. hurry. He gives lingering hugs and multiple kisses. He seems to bask in the love. It. is. PRECIOUS! I am filled up to overflowing by all the love he gives to me.

And the smiles! Oh, I get lots of those, too! The sometimes practically sleepless nights seem to disappear in the wonderful time we have during the day.

How undeserving I am to have two preciously sweet and tender children. What a blessing from God!

So, this tired momma remains: Blessed Beyond Measure.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Tenderness that melts our hearts

Meet Layla:

Layla is Cherish’s doll. She is Chinese, she is the size of a real infant, she has soft skin with very detailed features, and she wears real children’s clothing—size “newborn”.

Since we brought Andrew home from the orphanage, he has been looking out for Layla. Truly, he keeps an eye on her.

He kisses her.
He hugs her.
He brings her toys to play with.
He often brings a toy over to her and plays next to her--so she is not alone.
He gives her full body hugs.
He loves on her!

The following pictures are further understood when you realize that he lingers over Layla.
There is no hurry.
There is a deep longing and desire to be close to her.

It moves Derek and me to tears.

He was trying to teach her how to use the "airplane" toy:

We have a feeling Andrew is missing one of his little buddies from the orphanage.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Andrew's Dedication

Today we presented Andrew before the Lord, knowing he is a gift from above.

"For this child I prayed;
and the Lord has granted me my petition which I made to Him.
Therefore, I have lent him to the Lord;
as long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord."
I Samuel 1:27-28

Andrew being prayed over by our pastor:
 Our pastor praying over dad and mom:
In this service, of the four (4) families dedicating a child,
three (3) of the children were adopted. Praise God!!
 Our sweet friends dedicating the little boy
God blessed them with:
"Children are a gift from the LORD. They are a reward from Him."
Psalm 127:3

Thursday, January 12, 2012

First U.S. Doctor Appointment

Well, this week included Andrew's first trip to a U.S. doctor and to a U.S. hospital (just for blood work, etc.).  He seemed to enjoy himself at the doctor's office--until, of course, the vaccinations began. So, we'll just skip over all the messy parts and talk about all the good parts.

 A snapshot before the doctor came in:

Andrew has gained weight since he's been in our family! Yay! He now weighs 17 lbs. 14 oz. (He's below the 0 percentile for his age, but it's still good because he's gaining.)

Andrew is 30.75" tall, so he falls into the 0-5 percentile on Caucasian charts.

When the doctor showed him her stethoscope before using it, Andrew took it and immediately put it to his own chest. The doctor was amazed that he knew what the stethoscope was for. I told her that it's proof that he received such great care at Maria's Big House of Hope.

We're getting things done before our social worker visits us next week for our first of many reports back to China. Hey, whatever it takes! What a blessing children are!


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Last trip post, Part 2

I see uncertainty, concern, and stress in those eyes:
But then Cherish and Andrew changed into their Chinese outfits
 for their Red Couch photos,
and someone began to come out of his silent shell.

Cherish on the Red Couch exactly 4 years later:
Andrew getting comfy on the couch:
Precious siblings:
Welcome to our silly family, Andrew!
We LOVE you!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Last trip post, Part 1

Well, with sickness, transition, and doctor appointments, I had not looked at the pictures of our last days in China. Derek had downloaded them to our laptop just hours before his stomach flu erupted (and before the first leg of our journey home began).

So, I finally took a look and wanted to share some snapshots with you.

 A very happy big sister!

 Want a "got love? adopt" t-shirt?
 Pappy, Nanny, Julie, Cherish, Andrew, Derek:
 Our adoption travel group:

Next post: Andrew's shell begins to crack, and we get to see some of his personality.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Notes on Andrew: home one week

  • Andrew loves bananas. I mean: loves. I mean: like a monkey loves bananas!
  • He likes rice, eggs, oatmeal, yogurt, Cheerios—though he’s been known to choke on them, grilled cheese, tomato soup, graham crackers, bread and tolerates carrots, peas, and string beans.
  • He hates applesauce and cottage cheese.
  • He will go to anyone. He walks up to strangers and holds his hands up to be picked up and seems content in their arms.
  • He no longer needs to constantly swing his arms forward to walk. His legs are getting stronger from the illness that made him so weak.
  • He started to cry when placed in bed, after about 2 weeks of silence. I found out that Cherish—who had been sleeping in his room—kept going to his bed at every sigh or cough, and would hold his hand and pet his back. He realized someone would come at any whim. Since Cherish moved back to her room two nights ago, he is beginning to go to bed once again without crying.
  • He now rolls over in bed and gets comfortable before going to sleep. Before, he would simply lie still where he was placed, and that was the exact way I would find him in the morning.
  • He loves soft blankets.
  • He goes to sleep with his pointer finger in his mouth (sucking it like a thumb). Between his finger and a soft blanket on his cheek, he can be asleep in less than a minute.
  • He can take over a three-hour nap!
  • He does not care for stuffed animals.
  • He is terrified of dogs, cats, and stuffed animals that have moving parts.
  • He loves to be outside.
  • He loves sunshine.
  • He is quite independent and able to play by himself. He does not need to be entertained to be happy.
  • He likes going into the playpen. I place him in the playpen when I need to take a shower—which worked well when we were all on different sleeping schedules. An additional benefit to being safe is that his concentration time is expanding, as I put intricate toys in the playpen with him; toys that need full attention to work.
  • He is easy-going. He goes with the flow.
  • At 20-months-old, he has 4 teeth on top and 2 teeth on the bottom.
  • He takes warm water in a bottle! Amazing, huh? Well, it is given the fact that we were told: “He drinks boiled water with sugar, and if he fusses, give him candy.” Nope, not happenin’ with this momma.
  • If he fusses, we walk away and give him space, and he is over the issue in seconds. (I need to learn from him!)
  • Having never been in a car seat prior to entering the States, he surprisingly goes in without a whimper or cry. He rides in the car seat without complaint.
  • The first book I read to Andrew was Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! by Mo Willems, and he laughed when he saw I kept yawning. (That book makes me yawn! Constantly!)
  • We were told he hates taking baths. Well, he enjoys them for us. Add Cherish and bubbles, and you have one happy kiddo!
That’s all for now. Thanks for hanging with us and praying us through the jetlag. As of last night, we slept through the night! Thank You, LORD!

(Now I might have the energy to actually pull out my camera and take pictures for ya.)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Andrew's Beginning, Part 2

Andrew began his new life at Maria's Big House of Hope (MBHOH), and then 15 months later, he was placed back at the orphanage in which he was first admitted. His orphanage is called Luoyang Children's Welfare Institute. The orphanage staff were his overseers, and they gave Andrew the name of Dang, Zan Cheng.

After we wrote China to tell them we wanted to adopt Andrew, the CCCWA moved him out of Maria's Big House of Hope and into the orphanage to prepare him for leaving the country--vaccinations, etc.

MBHOH and the orphanage are on the same street, and Steven Curtis Chapman's group is trying to move the orphanage across the street from MBHOH in order to better assist the orphanage staff and the children who live there.

 The front of Andrew's orphanage:
 The back of his orphanage:
In the fall we sent two care packages to the orphanage for Andrew, and we sent two disposable cameras--one in each package. When we received Andrew on Gotcha Day, the nanny returned to us one of the cameras. We developed the film and found the following pictures.

Andrew is in the arms of the nanny in the background:
Can you see bordum on his face?
Buddies! This little beauty, Xiao Xiao, was adopted, too. J
 He looks so small next to that empty bookcase:
 I see stress behind those eyes.
It appears that Andrew had a big buddy
who was looking out for him:
 Notice the camera flash?
 I was told the orphanage is very dark.
We adopted both our children through Chinese Children Adoption International (CCAI). CCAI is very involved with this particular orphanage, giving them donations and sending volunteers and workers over to help. There is even a special room called "Lily's Room"--named after our agency's co-founder. Our agency truly cares for orphans!

When Derek went to visit the orphanage, the nannies showed him exactly which crib was Andrew's. Derek is standing by Andrew's crib, and he slept in the crib with another child. The little girl, Xiao Xiao, (from the above pictures) was in the crib right next to Andrew's. Her crib is to the left of Andrew's in the picture below:
As you look at the above picture, you will see where some of the donations go--bedding. I realize not every orphanage is so blessed. There is so much work to be done.

"But You, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
You consider their grief and take it in hand.
…You are the helper of the fatherless."
Psalm 10:14

"A father to the fatherless…is God in His holy dwelling."
 Psalm 68:5

I am so thankful God cares about orphans.
What a loving God!
"God is love."
I John 4:8