Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Our first days with our new girl...

Our first few days with Corrie were...  it's hard to think of an adjective to describe exactly all that I was feeling as we got to know our sweet, new daughter. 

First of all, like I said, we were just in awe of how well she did-- how she adjusted to an entirely new set of circumstances:  new people (even if we WERE pretty nice people, we were really complete strangers to her), new places-- living out of hotel rooms, eating in restaurants, walking through different cities, eating completely different foods than she was used to I'm sure...  honestly I can't imagine how these new adopted children do this part.  The enormous amount of trust and acceptance it takes to join a new family.  We had known of Corrie for 4 years.  We had seen pictures and videos, asked questions about her over the years, and were completely in love with her already.  Us...well, she must have had no idea of what had hit her.  We had sent a picture book of our family, but being deaf, I don't think she really had a clue AT ALL.  She was so happy with us!  So content and trusting...  all I can say is that I know she has had some amazing people in her life all of these years to prepare her for the unknown like this.  She had no fear.  And she LOVED to love us and for us to love her, and to play, play, play!  It was like she was saying, "Hooray!!!  I've been waiting for you guys!!!"  :) 

We were so thrilled with her sunny, happy, loving personality.  Her smile lights up the room!  She gives some pretty intense squeezes!  She walks with a purpose, like she is on a mission to have the best time ever that day!  She would grab both of our hands, and out the door we would go, her looking from one of us to the other with the hugest smile on her face.  Seriously, she is adorable.  :) 

Yes, it was love at first sight for us and our Corrie. 

Corrie has numerous special needs.  She has physical and mental delays.  She has some quirky behaviors pointing maybe to some neurological issues.  She is not yet potty trained.  (We sure are hoping for the best on that one!)  She had surgery to correct a major issue she had when she was born, and there are some lingering effects from that.  She very likely has a genetic syndrome with some unknowns attached to it.  According to the paperwork we received, she has a serious kidney issue that someday could likely require a transplant. She has torticollis in her neck that will require therapy...and she will need various other therapies.  And she is deaf.  All of these things present challenges for our sweet girl.  However...  when I think of the mountains ahead of us, it makes me happy to think of the God who can leap those mountains in a single bound!  (Kind of like Superman, I suppose... but way, way, way more awesome than him!)  When I think of Corrie's past, I see God moving on her behalf at every turn.  He simply would not let the devil win.  He has placed her with people who could help her--with people who would love her--and finally moved all the pieces to put her in our family forever.   I don't believe for a second that He is finished doing His thing in her life, and I can't wait to see what He is going to do!

So, those first days in Nanchang with Corrie were fun. :) There were some surprises and things we hadn't expected for sure, but we were so smitten by her.  She slept all night from the very first day!   I had brought things to do in the hotel room like stickers, coloring books and crayons, bubbles, a light-up ball, books, puzzles, and ASL flashcards.  She had fun doing all of them!  Her attention span is more like a pre-schooler's, so she would move from one thing to the next pretty quickly, but she really enjoyed all of the things I brought out for her.  I know she was loving the attention that was lavished on her! 

Like I mentioned before, she loved when it was time to go somewhere.  She picked up the sign for "shoes" quickly, and she'd rush to get them.   At restaurants she would hold our hands, sometimes put our hands together so that we would hold each other's hands, hold out her hands to us to kiss them (it was so cute), and smile so sweetly. And she ate like crazy!  She loved almost everything we fed her, and she'd give us the thumbs up sign after almost every bite. :)  We had learned that in her home she ate mostly soft, soupy foods with ground up meat and veggies in rice that they had prepared for all the babies.  But it did not take us long to realize that she is not a baby, and even loves a good burger or slice of pizza like any respectable American. ;) 

Communicating was not really difficult.  Mostly we could point to things, and she would, too.  She would drag us to where she wanted us to go, or pat the bed if she wanted us to sit down. She would mimic when we signed things to her, and soon was picking up the signs!  It didn't take her long to learn "shoes," "socks," "table," "ball," "brush teeth," "bed," and others.  Mostly she just knew what we were saying, but it didn't take her too long to sign some of them herself.  It made me so happy to see her communicating more than just "eat" or "more," which were the only things we saw her saying at first.  I can't wait to learn more ASL so that I can teach her and watch her soar with it!

 Ready to go!  (She loved looking at herself in the mirror.  Of course, why wouldn't she with a face and an outfit like that?!)

 LOVE this princess!


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Gotcha Day!

Gotcha Day (as it is commonly called) or Forever Family Day, happened for us this time on April 7.  Has such a nice ring to it, doesn't it?  Spring--a time of fresh, new beginnings.  And 7--the number of completion!

We flew to Corrie's birth province, Jiangxi, into the capital city of Nanchang. (Corrie was actually from a different part of the province called Shangrao, but it was hours away, so we did not get to see it.  Maybe someday...)   We drove through the countryside, surrounded by beautiful, green terrain and hills.  It is a mountainous region.  I was kind of disappointed that our helpful guide from our agency kept talking while we drove--I wanted to watch the scenery while we had the chance before we entered another busy city!

Our guide informed us that Corrie and her ayi would probably be waiting in the lobby of our hotel, as they had taken the overnight train and would have already arrived.  Sure enough, we saw them as soon as we walked in!  We didn't go over to them immediately, though.  We freshened up in our room a bit, and then came down for the big moment!

Corrie was so excited to see us.  Of course she knew us from the day before, and she had loved playing with Scott so much!  I knew she was going to be happy to see us.  I didn't know how she would do saying good-bye to her ayi (auntie in Chinese.)

We had prayed and prayed countless days about this moment.  We had prayed that Corrie would feel at peace in her heart and just transition into our family like she had always been part of us.  I don't know what was going on in her little mind, but that is exactly how it seemed.  She came right to us with a smile on her face and never looked back.  I hoped her ayi wouldn't feel bad.

Her ayi was so sweet and wonderful.  She gave us Corrie's things she had brought--some clothes, snacks and a few things that were special to her, answered a few more of our questions through our guide as an interpreter, posed for some pictures with us, and tearfully stepped aside.  She thanked us for adopting Corrie.  We were so thankful to her for loving her and the other babies at Morning Star.  She seemed like such a sweet lady.  I wished I could have spoken to her with no language barrier.

After that, we took Corrie upstairs to our room and began our new life together!  She never cried or seemed sad, although when we were showing her pictures that we had taken of her ayi, she looked around and toward the door, no doubt wondering where she was.  That was the last time we showed her those pictures or any of her at Morning Star.  We'll pull them out again after she's been with us for a little while.

 "I'm so happy to see this guy again!!"  :)

 This picture is kind of funny, but it captures pretty well just how excited she was to see him!

 Forever Family!!!!
 Tender good-bye...

 We are so grateful for this lady and the others who cared for Corrie during her first 6 years.  God has special blessings waiting for those who care for orphans!

 Checking out the picture book of our family

 Bubbles are always a hit, and this time proved to be no different!

 Fun stuff!

 And, yes, I was there having fun, too!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Morning Star Family Home!

Sometimes  God does something that is just really cool.  Something that shouts His name....  Something that tells the world how much He loves the fatherless and delights in answering prayers on their behalf.   This is one of those stories.

In China they have a policy.  I'm not sure why, exactly, but orphans there who have been living in foster homes or private children's homes return to their original orphanage for a short time before their adoptive family comes for them.  Knowing this fact just about tore me apart during the months preceding our travel to China.  You see, Corrie is deaf.  I pictured this little girl who has always been safe and happy and loved in her foster-style-home, being sent to an orphanage in a different province--the one she was born in, but had spent little time in and would have no memory of (in fact, I believe the orphanage is a new facility anyway where she had never even lived.)  She would be dropped off among strange faces, overwhelmed by the presence of all these new adults and children who could not communicate with her, in a strange place.  An institution.  She would have no idea of knowing why or what would happen next.  No one could explain any of it to her.  I desperately prayed that God would get her through that time. I prayed that she would only have to spend the shortest time possible there, and that He would supernaturally speak to her Himself and comfort her heart.

As time went by and the day of our arrival drew closer, Corrie had still not left Morning Star.  The director still had not heard from the orphanage anything about her having to leave.  One night we were messaging back and forth, and during that time, she heard that Corrie was not going to have to go back to her orphanage at all!  The news was that she would be taken by her nanny on the night train the DAY BEFORE we arrived at the hotel in her original province where the adoption had to take place.  She would simply be placed straight from her nanny's arms directly into ours, right in our hotel lobby!  We had already planned on visiting Morning Star to meet everyone and see what Corrie's home was like months in advance.  We had expected Corrie to already be waiting at her orphanage far away.  But now it turned out we were going to actually meet her.  In her sweet little home, surrounded by everything and everyone familiar to her.  And the next day when it was time to bring her into our family, she would already know us! 

Only God.  Only our loving Father who truly is Daddy to these precious children and adores them so much!
And so, that Sunday, the day after our adventure in Beijing with the great master artist, we slept in to fight off the jet lag a little more, took a cab to a place where we would meet some people from Morning Star, and went with them the rest of the way to the wonderful place with the precious people that have always been family to our Corrie and many other desperately sick babies.  And we had the immense privilege of meeting our new daughter!!
 The gate going in
 The view of the street in back
And the view the other way.  Such a cute, quaint little neighborhood!
Sweet ayis (aunties) and babies
And here she is!!!  She doesn't look like she liked us much in this picture, but she really did!  :)  She took to us right away, just like I had hoped she would.  And we just fell in love with her!

She especially loved having fun with Daddy! :)

Mommy's sweet girl.  I have loved you for so long!



Not sure why we were trying to block Corrie out of this picture, ;) but here is her ayi and her new mommy, both loving this girl!

So much fun with Daddy!

We had bought this pinwheel at a park that morning

Hugging sweet Jenny, one of the staff at Morning Star who has loved Corrie forever.

More fun with Daddy

And what is better than jumping into Daddy's arms?

She is a very silly girl!
Oh yeah...there are other babies there, too!  Cuties like this!  We had taken this book and bear to her from her family in the states waiting to go and get her! 

And this is what happens when there is only one pinwheel!

Sweet boy

Cutie pie with her ayi

I love this little angel!

The bed on the left is where Corrie slept.  Another baby is probably in there now!  Corrie has moved up to a big girl bed! :)

Such cute decorations all around the house.

Love this in the hallway upstairs!

I loved this happy little guy.  His lips were blue from his heart condition.  So happy he has a family coming for him soon!  He just loved the book of pictures they had sent him, and he brought it to me to show him over and over again. :)

Time to eat!  Corrie had already eaten, but she went over to the ayis and tried to mooch more from the babies.  Look how big she is compared to all of them.  Here in our house she is the baby!
We were so blessed to be there with all of these wonderful ladies!  (Jenny is in the white shirt, and she and the nanny on her right were there when Cassandra was volunteering there back in 2010 and she met Corrie.  She loved them both so much!

And here they were getting Corrie ready to get on the train!  Look at her stylin' with that pretty red headband.  Her last moments at Morning Star...

We actually rode in the car with her and her nanny when they were dropped off at the train station.  Here we were getting ready to go, with all the babies and nannies watching from inside.
It was surreal riding in that car on the way to the station with this girl we had loved for so long who would soon become our daughter.  It was one amazing day!!