Li is pretty excited about getting to wear her new Easter dress to church (04/2009)
We spent Easter last year in Guangzhou, China as we were in the midst of our adoption journey to make Li part of our family and to bring her to a new life here with us. Although we didn’t attend worship on that Easter Sunday last year, we were definitely thinking about the parallels between what she was going through and our own adoption into God’s family.
Again this year, as we celebrate Easter — admittedly in a more traditional way — and talked this morning in Bible study about why this day means so much to us, I am reminded of the parallels… and I am reminded how profoundly these simple acts of love have changed us in untold ways.
A year ago yesterday, we were handed a little girl, bundled up in about 5 layers of clothes. We were already in love with her; it took her a little longer… within a matter of seconds, she started screaming and didn’t stop for several hours until, exhausted, she fell asleep on my chest in our hotel room in China. Our lives haven’t been the same since.
Deb and Li enjoy a new book on Gotcha Day + 1
What a difference a year makes. Those first few days were tough for all of us (and probably tough for the people in the hotel rooms near ours!), but bolstered by the prayers of friends and family, we all survived. She is still a very “spirited” young lady, and there are many aspects of that strong will and personality that we started getting to know a year ago that show through every day. She has grown in every aspect of her development, and that growth has been matched only by the growth of our love for her.
We celebrated “Gotcha Day” with my parents this past weekend; we celebrate this incredible gift we have been given every single day.
One year ago today, Deb and Ian and I boarded a plane that took us to a plane that took us to a plane that took us to a plane that brought us to Li so that we could bring her home. Tomorrow morning, I will board a plane that will take me to a plane that will take me to a plane that will bring me home… to Deb and Ian and Li.
I have a hard time believing that we are closing in on the end of our first full year together. I’ve been in DC this week, heading for home early tomorrow morning, and it has been harder than usual to be away from family this week.
Li enjoying the spring's first trip to the swings (March 2009)
Yesterday was the first day of March, and we noted several firsts worth (at least to us) recording here:
- It was the first weekend during this winter-to-spring transition with weather conducive to being outside. We spent a couple hours on Saturday working and playing in the snow in the backyard (pruning our Dr. Seuss tree and digging out the patio from the accumulated snow and ice from the winter). It was wonderful just to be outside in the sunshine, even if it was still pretty cool.
- Sunday was even nicer, so we walked over to the neighborhood school for some time playing on the swings and the slides. Li is significantly braver now on the playground toys than even just a few months ago, and had a blast just being outside.
- This weekend marked the first time Li has referred to Deb as “Momma”. Until now, it has been “Ba”, but we’re clearly getting “m’s” in there now. Ian’s name is getting clearer, too, as part of this language explosion that started a couple weeks ago.
This month will also mark our first full year with Li, which is hard to believe. At this point last year, we were getting ready for long flight and the start of our life together…
Li enjoys a traditional Thanksgiving meal of... noodles, of course.
It’s now almost two weeks since Thanksgiving, and I know I’m late in writing this but I’ve thought about it quite a bit of late… we have so much to be thankful for:
- Dominating our thoughts and lives this year is the arrival of our daughter Li and the changes she has brought to almost every aspect of our lives. After nearly three years of waiting, her arrival in March of this year made all of the waiting worth it. We are so thankful that she is part of our family, that she arrived healthy and obviously loved and well cared for, and that she has begun adjusting to life with us.
- We’re grateful for the love and support of friends and family as we have gone through major changes in our lives as her addition ripples in ever-widening circles. That love and support has shown in many ways including prayers for us while we were in China to get Li; getting to spend Thanksgiving with our friends Nick and Karie and their family where Li enjoyed the traditional Thanksgiving dinner of… noodles, of course; the seemingly never-ending bags of pink clothes from friends Chuck and Heather, knowing how much I like pink; watching Li with her grandparents.
- We’re thankful that — not coincidentally, I am certain — she has started spending all night in her own bed beginning on the night before Thanksgiving. She’s still not sleeping all the way through the night (she’s only done it a couple of times, and it’s weird when she does) but having her sleep in her own bed means better rest for all of us.
- We’re thankful for our church family and the support that we’ve received from so many people there as we’ve gone through this major adjustment, particularly from Mike.
- We’re thankful for the opportunity to see the young man and big brother that Ian is growing into.
- We’re thankful for having had the opportunity to travel together as a family to China, to spend almost three weeks there getting to see just a tiny bit of the culture and the people from where Li came, for having seen and heard and experienced just enough there to know that we will go back with Li someday when she is a little older and can understand better the path by which God brought us to her and vice versa.
- We’re thankful and excited for our friend Cynthia and her husband Temo and their new life together and for finally getting to meet Temo on my last trip to DC in November.
Swim goggles are now mandatory attire for consuming yogurt smoothies... who knew?
And the list goes on and on… we are truly blessed in so many ways. This year has been dominated by this little girl, this huge gift, and by the opportunity to welcome her into our family and to watch her grow and to realize how much we are growing, too. I don’t have any doubts that Christmas is going to be very special this year, too, as this little girl whose sense of humor is showing up more and more and whose sense of wonder at what goes on around her life each day grows gets to experience a very special time.
And, yes, those are swim goggles — deemed necessary attire by Li for consuming her pre-bedtime yogurt smoothie this evening… go figure.