One month ago, a very sweet and beautiful little Chinese girl was handed to me by a couple of sad nannies. This sweet girl was not thrilled about being handed to this white woman with a big, goofy grin on her face. But she handled it. And now I cannot imagine my life without this sweet, small, beautiful, loving child! Liana has been with us for one month! Part of me feels like...a month?! It feels like she's been with us forever! The other part feels like...a month?! It's already been a month?! So, after a month, this is where we're at...Liana is still a dream. She has handled this transition from being in an orphanage with nannies and hundreds of kids to being in a family of five with three dogs amazingly well. We never dreamed that she would handle this so well! She is mostly just a very happy child and will smile at the slightest hint of teasing. She eats everything we give her and may still hang onto that last bite in her mouth for a while but, for the very first time, today she let me know when she was full. She actually handed me her last chicken nugget and was ready to be done! She's gone from a girl who did not want us to remove her shoes from the orphanage to a girl who brings me her red, sparkly shoes and climbs onto the couch, sticks her feet out and waits expectantly for me to put them on her. She's gone from a child who would not walk or even let us put her feet on the ground to a child who climbs stairs and runs around the house and climbs onto anything her short, little legs will allow her to. She's gone from a child who had the saddest, most mournful eyes to a child who smiles so big her eyes disappear. It's amazing what a month can do! What a scary thing she has been through this last month...handed to strangers who take her away from everyone and everything she's ever known and take her on the craziest, busiest trip just to end up in a place where no one speaks her language. What an amazingly strong child she is to not only handle all of this as well as she has, but to handle it with a smile! People always comment on how lucky Liana is but we are the lucky ones.
Today, we took Liana to church for the first time. We brought her in with us instead of putting her in with other two year olds. It's too soon for her to be able to handle a class of other kids. For one thing, she's not like a two year old yet. She would be so far behind the other kids. For another, she is still adjusting to all of the new things in her life and this would just be too much for her. I was a little worried about her being in with us because our church is huge...enormous...and the worship is amazing but very loud so I didn't know how she would handle that. She handled it great though and it was amazing to have her in my arms as we sang. She even raised her hand at one point like some of the other people around us. I felt this amazement wash over me having her at church. We have prayed and had others pray for her and this adoption so many times at church, I just couldn't believe that she was actually there with us. We sang one song with the words "I'm no orphan anymore" and I teared up. It was all I could do to keep singing. She's no orphan anymore! Having Liana there with us, it just struck me, God brought her here. After all we went through to get her here, she's here! He did it! I just feel so, so blessed and thankful that He chose us to be her family and helped us to get her home.
Later, we finally had a birthday party for her. She got to have her party at the orphanage on her actual birthday but we wanted to celebrate at home with her too and this was the first weekend that hasn't been crazy since we've been home. We just had pizza, presents and cake with the five of us but it was fun. It was funny when she opened her presents, she was very possessive of them. If Ethan came near, she would grab up her toy and make this little ornery sound at him, like back off, it's mine! For a child who has had no possessions, I found it pretty funny and we cheered her on. It is her "birthday" after all!
Looking pretty for church
All cozy in a blanket Oma made her
Ready to party!
How do we do this?
Okay, I've got this present thing down now!
Always the goofball!
Loving on her new unicorn from Uncle Tim, Aunt Carri and cousin Taylor!
This was supposed to be posted yesterday but I never got a chance to finish or hit "Publish"
Ah, what a day. I was really hoping for a good night's sleep last night. I have moved into Liana's room on a blow up mattress so that she's not alone so you'd think that would be enough, right? Guess not. I got one so-so night's sleep since I moved into her room, where she didn't wake up til (gasp) 5:30. Pretty exciting. But she hasn't done it since. Last night, she woke up at 1 and then again at 4:30. In between Liana's wake ups, I heard Ella sniffling in the bathroom so I went to see what was wrong. Poor girl was burning up and feeling terrible. I got her some Ibuprofen and layed with her a little while and then left, hoping she would fall back asleep quickly. After missing 11 days of school and only being back for 4, I hated emailing her teacher that she was going to miss another day...well, it's really only a half day today but still.
Erik had always said that he would take our first week back at home off from work so that Liana could adjust and so could we before he disappeared back to the daily grind. I should be laughing because I knew it wouldn't be that simple. He has worked some of every day since we've been back and today, after I assured Ella that I would be able to spend a lot of time taking care of her today since Daddy's home, Erik informed me that he was going to have to work the whole day, not just the afternoon like he thought. Yay. So, fast forward a couple of hours and a couple more kids awake and Ella is throwing up in a bowl and a little on herself and the love seat while Liana is trying to get closer to see what's going on and Ethan is wreaking havoc in the background. I help hold the bowl for Ella and when she's done, quickly get Ethan and Liana into the playroom so I can clean everything up. Liana has decided that having neither Erik or I in the room is just not okay in the last few days so she just sits by the baby gate crying. If we're not in the room, we can never tell if Ethan is actually doing anything mean to her or not because she's a bit of a drama queen and a little instigator too. I have actually seen her walk up to Ethan and then cry because he's close to her. It's interesting how kids so young manipulate you, isn't it? Very clever, new daughter, but I'm a quick study. Fast forward another 6 or so hours, Ella's temp has gone up to 104.8. I try to call a nurse but they don't answer. It's 4:30 so the doctor's office is closing soon. I give her ibuprofen, pediasure and pop her in a luke warm bath while I stick Ethan and Liana back in the playroom. Ethan escapes the playroom so I have to bust out crying Liana too. Erik's cell phone went dead right after getting to work so I try his work phone. No answer. I get Ella out, dressed and back on the loveseat with a blanket on her lap. Her temp goes down to 103.1...102.3...whew.... Erik makes it home and orders pizza and offers to sleep in Liana's room tonight. Yes, he's my knight in shining armor...err, khakis.
I have always heard how the first week home is hard but this is more than I bargained for. I have not slept well one single night since we've been home, Ella has gotten a cold and the flu (did you know that you could have both at the same time? I didn't!), I'm sick again and my muscles around my ribs are still sore, Ethan has been coming down with a cold and I found a stitch that was left in his head so I need to take him to the doctor to have that removed, and I just have no idea how to balance being a mom to three yet. I know, I know, mamas of more than three out there, you're thinking, three?! I could handle three kids in my sleep! Well, I can't. And it is so different bringing home a toddler versus a newborn baby. It's a lot easier to adjust to adding a new child when that child can't get into things or fight with their new siblings and sleeps most of the day and hasn't spent the first two years of their life in an orphanage on the other side of the world. Adding a two year old when you already have a two year old, well, that's just nutso! I know, I knew what I was getting myself into and yes, I saw those unspoken reactions when we told people that we were adopting Liana. But ya know what, I knew it was insane from the start. I can't tell you how many times I've had a rough day with Ethan or Ella or both and asked God if I could really do this. The thing is, it was His plan, not ours. We have laughed about it many, many times (nervously, mind you) wondering why this was God's plan and how we would manage to even get through the adoption to Liana and then how we would handle things once we brought our dear girl home. But I can't tell you what a perfect fit Liana is for us and I hope we are for her too. Is she sometimes a drama queen? Yes, but Ella and yes, I can be drama queens too. Ask my poor husband! Does she try to pull fast ones on us to get her brother into trouble? Oh yeah, but you can bet he's also trying to do sneaky things to be mean to her behind our backs and then give us that little innocent look when we turn around. She is also hilarious and sweet and charming and fun and full of spunk and a tease and extremely cute and somehow, even though we're just getting to know her, she just fits us. All of us. It's not perfect by any means and I haven't even begun to learn how to work my way through each day with three kiddos, two who are two (I always have to add that) but we'll get there. It will never be perfect. Sadly, I will never be a perfect mom but we'll get better and better at this as we figure out what our life is now like as a family of five.
Oh, I'm tired...so, so tired. After 26 1/2 (yes, I'm counting the half) hours of traveling, we made it back home at 9:30 Saturday night. The kids actually did pretty well on the flights but I am just so glad that it is over and I don't have to dread it anymore. Liana became a U.S. citizen when she we landed in New York. Yay!!
I don't know why but the pics are always huge when I copy and paste from Facebook.
It feels great to be home and Liana is adjusting so well! She loves all the toys but she hates the dogs! If she sees one, even our little 8 lber, she burst into tears. Too bad we have 3 dogs! It is getting a little better though, she actually let one of them come into the dining room while she ate breakfast this morning and she fussed for a second but then just eyed her suspiciously the rest of the time. She and Ethan are starting to do much better since we got home. He's still...well, two and a big brother so nothing too amazing has happened but they are starting to play with each other and Ethan doesn't seem so angry. Liana is starting to bond more with Ella too. Sometimes, Ella can make her just collapse onto the floor in a fit of giggles. It's adorable.
I have no idea how Liana is handling things so well but she is just such an amazing little girl. We stayed in three different cities in China, took 5 different airplanes (okay, only 3 for her), a train and countless buses, vans and taxis, we drug her all over the place and then made her travel for over a day to come home where there are 3 terrifying fuzzy animals just waiting to eat her (haha) and yet, she is full of smiles all day long. We are so lucky to get to be her parents!
Jetlag, by the way, is killing us. The kids all slept either good (Liana) or great (Ella and Ethan) the night we came home but last night, everyone was up anywhere from 11:30 (Ethan and Ella) to 1:00 (Liana) and no one seemed to want to go back to sleep. Ethan burst into tears when I told him it was still bedtime. Ella still managed to make it through a whole day of school today. She wanted to go but I felt so bad dropping her off and emailed her teacher to call me if she seemed like she was getting too tired. But, she made it! Oh please tell me this jetlag will go away soon! We desperately need sleep!
Today marks one year since the day we first applied to Holt. I can't believe that even with the delays we had, we were able to bring Liana home in just under a year from when we began this adoption! God is amazing!
Liana discovering what Ella calls the "treasure chest"