Monday, May 28, 2012

May Update And New Adoption Video

A few exciting things have happened around here lately.  First, my husband put together another short video that you'll find at the bottom of this post.  The original video found in the February 27th post just captured her gotcha day, the new one is a before and after adoption snapshot with both photos and video clips.  Initially he put it together for me to show the wonderful ladies in my MOPS group, but then it was also shown during services at our church on Mother's Day.  Princess Petals has become a bit of a celebrity and it amazes me just how many people have opened up to me over the past few weeks that they have adoption in their hearts and want more information.  It never really occurred to me how much our adoption would impact the people around us.  It is truly an amazing thing and I hope more families step out in faith and follow their hearts.  There are so many children waiting to be loved both domestically and internationally.

So what else is new?  We celebrated Princess Petals' baptism on Mother's Day.  She looked to us for reassurance a few times after being handed over to our pastor, but overall she did great!
In other news, our little girl has started eating solids and almost completely ditched the baby food!  It is getting easier to feed her and she is also using utensils which just amazes me!  Her eye-hand coordination is just awesome!  We're keeping her on formula until she's two though to help her body deal with her intense growth spurts.  We just had her second Well Baby exam since coming home this past Friday.  In two and a half months since she's been home baby girl has gained 3 lbs and grown 2 1/2 inches!  She is still quite small, but seems to be growing at a very fast pace and has advanced on the growth charts from 3% to 7% for height and 1% to 10% for weight!  She has been trying out her running legs and climbing the stairs faster than I can believe.  She is laughing a lot and trying to talk more.  Her main sounds are "mama" and "dada" but they cover a myriad of things as she tries to communicate.  She points to herself in the mirror and excitedly squeals, "Dada!"  Daddy and her brother are also "dada."  The words "more," "kiss" and "meow" all have become, "ma!"  But "mama" is still just me and I love when she starts singing her "mama" song of saying my name over and over with different inflections.  She is just a little love bug and so very, very, very affectionate with us.  Hugs and kisses galore.  Even in the grocery cart she leans over and kisses my fingers as we stroll the aisles.

She does have some stranger anxiety and puts on a very serious face out in public when people talk to her or try to get her to smile which made getting pictures a little difficult, but overall she is doing spectacular. The stranger anxiety is actually a good thing in her case and although it has meant no babysitters or day care at church or the health club, we are just so happy at how well she has bonded with us and that she knows exactly who she belongs with.
My last note on this update focuses on her "special need."  Her limb difference was, admittedly, a big deal when we were first presented her file last September.  However, we reached out to some people we found online through the "Adopting Children With Limb Differences" and "Sammy's Friends" Yahoo Groups, and "The Lucky Fin Project" on Facebook and learned so much from them.  They kindly shared personal experiences and told us how their kids have adjusted to life with limb differences and really opened our eyes to a special need we had previously been a little nervous and uneducated about.  I am now amazed at how little I even think about it.  Lately as the weather has warmed and she's wearing short sleeves I suppose it is more noticeable to people because after two months of never hearing any comments about it out in public, it seems everyone is noticing now.  We are at a point of having to decide exactly how to handle the comments and questions in a way that doesn't embarrass Princess Petals or humiliate the earnest questioner.  Rude and intolerant remarks will of course be dealt with on a case by case basis by her overprotective parents.  Fortunately she is too young to understand right now so we have some time to figure it out.  Just today at the grocery store a woman remarked to me, "oh look, she is just so beautiful!" and I (beaming at the compliment) said "thank you!"  Then came the, "oh...and her poor little hand..." and with a sympathetic pat on my back, "...bless you, she is beautiful."  No we are not saints as her pat on the back implied, we are just a family who wanted another child and found acceptance with something that even we were leery about at first.  I know I can't educate every person I see about how amazing limb different kids are but, please, please, please, don't pity them.  They're gonna be just fine.

I can't wrap this post up without mentioning my son's friend, Z.  She and D were in the same preschool class and are now at the same school for Kindergarten.  Last week on the playground I overheard Z explaining to another little girl about Princess Petals' missing hand.  She was very matter-of-fact and even when the other little girl said, "well I'm glad I have two hands," Z replied, "but if you didn't you'd figure out how to do everything just like Princess Petals does."  It was obvious that a family discussion had taken place in their home.  It seriously warmed my heart and made me realize what a difference Princess Petals' adoption into our family is having on not only our lives, but everyone she comes into contact with.  I am so happy that we adopted and thankful that we were led to China's Waiting Children program.  We have been blessed beyond measure by all of our children, but Princess Petals has opened our eyes and our hearts to things we likely never would've known without her presences in our lives.

Without further ado, here is the new video.  After sorting through literally hundreds of pictures and several hours of video my amazing husband managed to capture Princess Petals' adoption story in just a little over 3 minutes.
If the video is loading slow on Blogger or you would just like a much better picture, please use the following link to Vimeo:


Friday, May 4, 2012

God Is A Show Off

This past year, more than any other time in my life, God has been a complete show off.  Now that the adoption is done I have been pondering how we got here and I just can't believe how many times I felt like I was being led to this very spot, and how many times things worked out "just so."  

I went back and read some of my original blog posts the other night - back when all of this was new and this blog was supposed to be a private journal.  I can't believe how far we've come and all that we've accomplished in such a short amount of time.  I am so very thankful for my daughter and all that I learned during this process about myself, my husband, orphans, China and special needs.

When we started all this we had no idea who Princess Petals was - which is crazy to think of now since I feel like she's always been with us.  She just fits into our family so perfectly and we feel an awesome connection with her.  I wondered what it would be like to adopt and as much as I secretly doubted what I'd read other adoptive parents write - it is completely true.  I love Princess Petals as if I gave birth to her myself. Gone now is the image of my fictional daughter having blue eyes and blonde pig tails....I look at Princess Petals and I see MY daughter.  She is amazing and we are head over heals in love with her.  
So what's new?  Princess Petals is eating!  After the first few days in China the novelty of a spoon wore off and she was completely back on bottles (formula mixed with rice cereal).  Until arriving home the only other foods she would eat were Cheerios and mashed bananas.  We kept her on the formula and treated her like a 6 month old meal-wise.  She's been eating pureed baby food and recently started experimenting more with solids.  A few weeks ago we ordered Chinese take-out and on a whim I offered her a lo mein noodle off chopsticks and Egg Drop soup out of a cup.  She loved it!  She prefers to be fed over feeding herself - even her bottles now - she's either gotten lazy or has just decided to trust us with this part of her life.  It's actually a pretty big deal if you've read anything about institutionalized children and food.  When we first received her she would suck down her bottles in 30 seconds flat and I kid you not when I say she was sweating by the end of the bottle.  We can only guess that in the orphanage she had a set amount of time to eat and she learned to do it quickly.  Now, lazy girl chews on the nipple, throws the bottle (knowing we'll fetch it) and sometimes doesn't even finish it!!!  What a change!  When she sees me putting a bottle together she gets antsy - she wants it - but I think she knows us well enough to trust that she won't go hungry if she doesn't finish.  I'm sure the full tummy from solid food is helping with this immensely as well.  So far so good on this front.  She's up nearly 3 lbs in just two months.
What else?  Princess Petals is walking!  I don't know if I've ever witnessed such tenacity before.  I'm stubborn, but WOW this little peanut is downright determined!  Around mid-March she started pulling herself up to stand in the kitchen and testing out the balancing waters.  Then it started.  On March 22nd she took a few steps and I started fumbling with the camera trying to capture the moment.  I was reduced to tears watching her fall and push herself back up again over and over and over and over.  She fell a lot in the beginning, as most toddlers do, and we cringed at how hard she was landing on her hand and "nubbin."  Did she cry about it though?  Nope - she just got back up and gave it another go.  Once she had it down I couldn't help but smile watching her toddle around overflowing with pride in herself - it was amazing to witness.  I honestly don't really remember the boys' first steps...I know it was exciting at the time and I recorded it in their baby books...but March 22, 2012 will be burned in my memory forever.  Just look at the expression on her face from that day - she is ecstatic!!!    
What else?  Sleeping!  Okay so we really lucked out here.  Princess Petals is a great sleeper.  We had her in our room for a few weeks and then made the transition to her own room.  She woke up a few times during the night the first week but only needed a little cuddle before going right back to sleep.  We had some sketchy nights while working on a couple of molars last week, but other than that, she shoots for a solid 12 hours every night and is still taking two naps a day.  The orphanage staff told us she only took one nap a day, but while we were in China she just couldn't keep her eyes open.  I blamed all the extra stimulation from being out and about because it never dawned on me until we got home that she was likely napping in her crib on and off during the day.  I can only imagine that I would sleep on and off if I was left in a crib 20+ hours a day...  I'm sure all the extra stimulation she has been experiencing since we received her is exhausting as well, but feel pretty sure she was sleeping more than they let on.
What else?  Bonding!  Adoptive families are advised to keep their new children at home as much as possible and limit visitors for the first few months as the child gets accustomed to their new surroundings and family.  The idea is to keep her world as small as possible to nurture bonding and attachment.  Well...when you have two children already that have school and activities outside the home, life just can't stop completely.  We make efforts to keep her home when possible, but I'll admit to taking her out quite a bit when Jon is out of town.  She absolutely LOVES W's music class.  I was nervous and a little curious to see how she would react in a room of strangers.  After some careful watching the first few classes she has started to smile at the other parents and kids and really enjoy herself during the class, but she always stays very close to me when not in my lap - another small victory as we adjust to her new life with us.  We've also started taking her to church, but we keep her with us instead of using the nursery.  We are looking forward to her upcoming baptism and introducing her to the rest of her new family this summer.  
Our incredible girl has even learned to like the cat and dog!  She was nervous around them for a few days and then one day she decided to tackle her fears...literally...  
So that's basically it - that's all I have for an update.  She is doing awesome - better than we could have hoped.  We love her.  Her brothers have amazed us with how much they adore her as well - and how quickly they've adapted to having a sister.  Her missing hand has been a complete non-issue so there's really nothing to say about that...  
Princess Petals is just a beautiful, healthy, happy, awesome little girl!!!!!!!  We will be forever thankful that she is a part of our lives.

...adoption video coming soon...