Monday, September 1, 2014

18 Months Home

I always knew I would adopt.  Since I was a teenager I could just feel that I would someday adopt.  I could say it was just a desire to do something good or a random feeling but I know it wasn't.  In my faith, we learn that before we were born on earth we lived as spirits with our Heavenly Father.  There we prepared to come here and have the experiences we would have.  I know that while I was there, I knew and loved my future children, and that each of them were given specific purposed to fulfill while on this earth.  My two daughters were called to a difficult task as part of that mission - to be born to a different mother in a country far away.  It was part of the experience they needed to have in order to be the women they were created to be and they accepted that challenge.  I believe I promised them then that I would never forget them and that I would find them.  Looking back, I feel like there must have been angels reminding my heart of the missing children in my life.  There were even times where my other children seemed to be feeling that same emptiness in our home.

And we did find them.    And what joy it has brought us - though that isn't to say it was or is easy all of the time.  But since when was a good life easy?

Family Pictures - Summer of 2014
The girls have been home for just a little over a year and a half.   Their English is near perfect, both are fluent readers, talkers, and have found their place in our family dynamic.  While in China Pearl had very little formal schooling but she picked up everything so quickly when she got home.  She now reads beyond her grade level in English and we still wonder how she did that!  Esther was in the third grade at a public school there but her Chinese report stated in a roundabout way that she was a very average if not below average student.  Since the moment we met her she was as smart as a tack and picked up everything she was taught.  Now that she's been home for a while and talking through her time there we know that school was an awful place for her and that no one learns when they are in constant fear of abuse and ridicule.
Such smart girls!

The children are comfortable enough to fight, to play, to laugh, and even sometimes to hug.  The girls are trusting and becoming more and more vulnerable to me - letting me be their mother.  I knew I would need to teach them English and about our culture but I have come to realize how much I also need to teach them about what love feels like, what a mother/daughter relationship can be, and how to be a friend.  (The girls differ somewhat in the learning curve on this because of the difference in their situations in China.)

Esther and her Dad.
Esther is especially fond of her dad.  She seeks his approval, wants to sit by him, and thinks his opinion ranks higher than any other.  I am pleased that she is seeking a father's love in her life.  Her foster father was a good man but he was quiet, removed, and not very affectionate with her.  She needs and craves Mike's love.
Riding the bus through Seattle.

I love finding selfies like this on my phone.

Pearl lived the first 3-4 years of her life with her biological family.  After that she was in an orphanage filled with loving women.  She was ready to belong to our family the day she came home but we have seen lately now that time has passed and she feels even safer here that she is starting to let out the hurt and anguish of abandonment she suffered when she was younger.  My heart aches for her.

Pearl loves all things Princess - but with a sword in hand.  She'd feisty and funny but I think she hasn't completely let herself bloom here yet.  I know with time I'll be able to coax her fiery spirit out to light up wherever she goes.
I love how open the girls are to try new foods!

Last day of school.
We were grateful to have the amazing public school we did this last year and for the ladies who taught and loved our children.  We finally feel ready now to homeschool everyone again and we are excited to get back to the rhythm of that!

Picnic time!

This summer we had more time to play together and I completely believe in the value of family recreation!  We created so many memories that enabled us all to continue to bond and grow closer.  

Hiking on Mt. Spokane

Chinatown, Seattle

Happy at the Washington Coast

Riding the Hiawatha Trail 2014

The journey isn't even close to being over but it DOES get easier for all of us everyday.  When I think of how easy it would have been not to find my girls it steals my breath away for a moment in fear.  I am so so so thankful that we found each other and so thankful for the whisperings of the Spirit of God to teach me how to help them be whole again.

And in case you were wondering....Adoption works.  Adopting older children works.  Adopting out of birth order works.  Adopting special needs children works.  Do it.  But don't do it alone - do it with God at your side!