Sunday, September 3, 2006

Foster Care Pictures

I am so grateful that Maya's foster parents took pictures of her while she was there. I really wish I had a photo of them! I think they really loved her. Here, she's wearing a large shell around her neck. I can't imagine that stayed on very long!

What a blessing that she was able to develop her muscles while she was there.

Our guide said that because homes don't have any air conditioning, the people usually sleep on bamboo mats because it's cooler.

Her foster family reported that she liked to watch T.V., but I can't get her to sit for more than a couple of minutes to watch a video. Maybe I need the T.V. down at her level!

It looks like her foster family had a little courtyard.

Practicing her walking in the foster home.

Testing the greenery

This is the kids' favorite photo. I wonder if her foster brother pedaled her around on this bike.

In this photo, it looks like there are pictures of other babies under the glass on the desk. I heard that her family had fostered 5 other babies before Qiu Ju, and I'm betting those are the kids in the pictures. I don't have an address for the foster family, but I can send updated pictures of Qiu Ju to the orphanage, and they'll get them to the foster family.

My favorite foster care picture. You don't see any smiles in the orphanage pictures, although I know she was loved there as well.

Orphanage Pictures

The orphanage gave us 7 pictures of little Jin Qiu Ju when she was living there. The earliest photo is this one, when she was 2 months old. The name of the other baby is written on the back of the photo. She's also a "Jin Qiu", but obviously I can't read the character for the other name. She's a little cutie. I hope she was adopted too.

This photo was taken exactly one month later, in December of 2005 when she's 3 months old.

I wonder if they don't have heat in the orphanage. She's pretty bundled up in all the winter photos. Here she's 4 months old.

Getting a little stronger at 5 months old.

In March of 2006. This was around the time they took her referral pictures. I've seen this sweater on other babies from Guiping. I don't know if they got a bulk deal and have several, or if the babies take turns wearing it.

There was no picture in April, and this one was from May. Her hair had grown and she's sitting up. Back in Washington, at the end of this month, we were just getting her referral info.!

This is the last photo from the orphanage, June 30, 2006. At this point, China knew we were adopting her, and she went to a foster family.

Saturday, September 2, 2006

1st Birthday

Yesterday was little Qiu Ju's first birthday! That morning, I had some errands to run and thought I'd take her with me and get some pictures around Poulsbo. She really wasn't in the mood--they never are when they're in a great outfit and their hair is done and the camera has batteries....

Anyway, this one is cute of her at the Poulsbo Marina.

Chinese baby, in front of Scandinavian sign, in American town.

Maya got a "Welcome to the U.S." letter from President Bush a couple of days ago and it said, "Americans are united across the generations by grand and enduring ideals. The grandest of these ideals is an unfolding promise that everyone belongs, that everyone deserves a chance, and that no insignificant person was ever born. Our country has never been united by blood, or birth, or soil. We are bound by principles that move us beyond our backgrounds, lift us above our interests, and teach us what it means to be citizens....Welcome to the joy, responsibility, and freedom of American citizenship. God bless you, and God bless America."

Do you think George Bush wrote that? I have my doubts.

The Whittles bought Maya a floater for her birthday and she and the girls had a good time in the pool.

Just in the past week, Maya has made such great strides! We (actually Madeline) got her to finally do a belly laugh! Maya learned to clap and shows us that new trick frequently, and she can say, Mama, Dada, Hi, and doggie! She's doing so well!

We had a wonderful outdoor birthday dinner of barbequed ribs, chicken, spinach dip and bread, green bean salad, and potatoes. As usual, Maya enjoyed it all. Boy, can she put the food away!

The kids baked and decorated Maya's cake. She wasn't so sure about the whole thing. When we sang, it came out as, "Happy Birthday dear (all together) Maya, Qiu Ju, Ju Ju....Happy Birthday to you!"

I was surprised at how much I thought of Qiu Ju's birth parents today, the day she was left at the orphanage, and yesterday, her birthday. There is a mother in China who certainly knows the significance of these dates. I'm sure her baby girl was in her thoughts today and that she's wondering where she is, what she looks like, and if she's happy. I hope that when she pictures her, she sees in her mind a beautiful, smiling, energetic girl who is being loved by a family in the United States.

Our good friend, Nikki Haws, just put together a beautiful video of Maya's adoption. We need to change the format so that we can put it on the internet, but it should be up soon. It's been so fun to relive that moment when she was placed in our arms.

Who knows, maybe someday in the future there will be another China Journey. There was nothing about the process that would discourage us from doing it again, but for now, we're enjoying all 4 of our precious and unique kids.