Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Gotcha' Day Anniversary

One year ago today five little girls were escorted into a sweltering room at the Lottery Hotel in Nanning China and there they met their new families! They were understandably confused about this bizarre change in their lives! It was a wonderful, nerve-wracking, never-to-be-forgotten day!

The first baby presented to her parents was Fu Qing Rong. Grace looked beautiful all dressed up in pink ruffles. She took her own sweet time in showing us her smile, but it was such a happy day when we saw her grinning at her dad!

A year later and Grace is all smiles with her brother and sisters! Lisa said, "Grace makes us laugh and laugh and encourages us with her hugs and kisses and sunggles and adds such joy to our days with her enthusiasm for life. Even if I have been home with her all day, when I walk into the room if I have stepped out for a minute, she will look up with her bright smile and yell, "Mama!!!"

"Grace finds such happiness in things I often take for granted. She loves new sensations, especially weather...Rain, Wind, Snow, Sunshine...she loves to lift her little face to the sky with a huge smile and just take it in."

Gracies's dad left last month for a year in Iraq and she misses him very much.

Next came sweet little Hua Yu Fen with her 3 bouncy pigtails! It was fun to watch her brother, Matthew's excitement as his new sister joined the family! Julia perfected a "Scarlett O'Hara" pout in China that amused us all! She was quite a mimic and Lyle liked to make faces at her (no, he's not above that!) to see her make faces right back!

As you can see, Julia is still full of personality! She and her "twin" brother Carson have a great bond and are two peas in a pod. Leah says, "Julia is doing wonderful. She has turned into a very kind, inquisitive child."

She has had surgery to put tubes in her ears and will be having eye surgery to correct a lazy eye. Next year she'll have scar and nose revision surgery from her cleft lip. Poor girl!

Leah just recently stopped working and is home full-time with her four kids. She said she feels like she's on an exhausting vacation! Despite the exhaustion, she said, "We feel so blessed every day to have Julia...we are very fortunate people."

Jin Qiu Ju was brought into the room carried by the orphanage accountant! When I first held her, she looked around curiously at everything and then started to cry and reached for her dad. Apparently she hadn't been told who did all the paperwork!

She was smiley and happy from the start, but everyday started to show more of her "assertive" side! She ate food from her plate and ours and still wanted more! It's amazing how well she communicated her wants and needs without language. She learned quickly that an ear-piercing shriek could send her new parents flying into action!

Fast forward one year, and she still shrieks--we're working on it! Seriously, she has a big personality, but she's also a sweet, smart, perfect addition to our family. She's very verbal and can say almost anything she wants in English and also knows about 100 signs.

She loves balls and sports and has great dexterity. The first time she saw a soccer ball, she dribbled it expertly down the field. She likes putting clothes on in interesting ways, singing songs, and is obsessed with a truly annoying DVD we bought in China called "Booh Bahs".
She is very devoted to her flannel blankie which she calls "beese". Her brother and sisters made it for her before we went to China and I'll never forget the first time she laid down on it and rubbed the soft fabric with her hand. She sighed so contentedly and just seemed to appreciate it so much! We knew right then and there that it would be hard not to spoil this girl!

Although this isn't the prettiest recent picture I have of Maya, it is so HER--the messy hair, silly grin, something dribbled down her shirt, and of course, that familiar look of mischief in her eyes! We are so in love with our Maya Qiu Ju!

The fourth little girl to meet her family was Barb and Rick's daughter, sweet Qiu. She looked so cute in her pink dress and pink jelly shoes.

She's sad in this picture, but from our perspective, she seemed to blend into her new family so quickly and smoothly (maybe Barb and Rick remember it differently!). She and her older sister Min looked like they'd been sisters forever!

This past year the bond between sisters has only grown stronger. Barb said, "Min and Qiu are enjoying learning to swim this summer. They are so bonded...cannot get them to stop talking and playing some nights....they act more like my sisters and I did as adolescents."

Qiu had her cleft palate repaired after coming home and is doing very well. Barb said she's having a language explosion and although she can understand her 95% of the time, most other people can't, so she'll start speech therapy soon. This photo was taken at her preschool and put into a mug for her dad. What a sweet girl!

When our guide, David read off the order we'd be in to meet our girls, he got to Jin Xia Yue's paperwork and said, "And the last one is the bad one..." (followed of course by David's hilarious laugh!) Nothing could be further from the truth--little Summer is a total sweetie!
She looked so sad and tiny in China, but we'd see flashes of the amazing little girl inside, ready to take her place in the world.
She had open heart surgery after coming home and her doctors have said her heart is now totally perfect.

Summer is a "girly" girl and loves shoes (even high heels!), but she also loves her brothers' toys like Spiderman action figures. Julie said, "Many times during the day, while Summer is playing, I hear her say the names of her family. She lists them all off. It is so precious. It's like she KNOWS we belong to her and she belongs to us! I LOVE IT! I often think of Summer's biological mother and wish she could see her smile. Her smile lights up a room. I pray that, in some way, her family might know in their hearts that their little "Su Mei" (third sister) has a family who loves her fiercely. I am grateful to them for the precious gift of her life."

What an amazing difference the love of a family can make it one year! And what a difference these sweet girls have made to their families!

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