Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Like most of the adoption community, I've had the privilege over the last week or so to be praying for little Teresa Bartilinski and her family. It's been a lot of waiting, for them, for those of us loosely connected to them through the red threads of adoption, and for the world who is now watching. The waiting has given me much time to think while praying. Little Teresa's journey to her forever family is miraculous.

Her life since coming home, battle after battle to get some weight on her, to keep her levels stable, to keep her healthy and virus free, to live a normal childhood in the midst of it all. It's all miraculous.

In the midst of it all, our own family was doing some waiting last week. My sweet little nephew, Kilian Edward, was due to make an appearance and when we got the news that labor had begun, the waiting felt intensely difficult. Hours dragged by and I swear that June 19th was the.longest.day.EVER. I was praying and checking my phone incessantly, waiting for something! anything! that would let me know he had safely arrived and that my sister-in-law was recovering well.

The call finally came and the details were sparse at first but really, who cares about details when there's THIS FACE to gaze at instead?!

Later in the week, I finally snuck some time away to talk with my brother and hear all the details that I'd been  wanting to know. And as my brother told Kilian's birth story, I was consumed with gratitude. His entry to our world, to our family, was challenging. Even slightly traumatic - especially for my brother and my sister-in-law. His arrival is miraculous.

Something the doctor said to us early in the process of studying Mei Mei's needs came to mind while my brother was sharing.... the interventions in the early two or three days of Mei Mei's life, before she even made it to the orphanage likely saved her life. Her arrival at the orphanage, her survival despite the harsh conditions under which she spent her first two weeks of life, her overall general good health while we waited to get to her and bring her home. It's all miraculous.

Every single one of these children are such miracles. No matter their birth story. No matter their journey to our homes. No matter the normalcy of their arrivals. Or the trauma they have endured in the getting here. They each are miraculous.

I'm certain that I'm not the only one guilty of forgetting the magnitude of these tiny (and not so tiny!) miracles that walk around our homes, begging for more popsicles, poking their siblings, and leaving dirty socks on the floor. I'm sure that the busy-ness of regular life takes over for all of you as it does for me. And the glory of this calling of parenthood is lost in the grime and the guts of the job. The demands of the daily-ness of it all cloud my vision all too often. The events of this past week have lifted my head and slowed my pace. I'm drinking in these moments more than I did last week. Are you?

While you are joining the rest of us in praying for yet another miracle for sweet little Teresa, stop for a moment and intentionally enjoy the awe of the little miracles in your own home. However they got to your arms, it's miraculous. They are miraculous.

Friday, June 14, 2013


For about a week now, Mei Mei has been walking around the house "singing" this repetitive set of sounds that made me sit up and take notice. It really sounded like she was trying to sing SOMETHING, I just didn't know what!

When I took the time to just sit and watch her while she was singing, I was astounded! See, the last several weeks have been full of evaluations, consultations, and doctors' reports that have been hard to wade through. Information has been flowing like a rushing river, about her cognitive abilities, her emotional/social abilities, medical needs, speech and language skills, and more. While not all of it has been difficult to hear and certainly not all of it has been "bad news" it has still been quite overwhelming.
{At this point, I must give huge props to our International Adoption Clinic at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia - they did an excellent job of thoroughly preparing us for all the ranges of the needs listed within Mei Mei's file and then some. Nothing we've heard has been a surprise, even if some things have been slightly more complicated or critical in the ranges of needs than we'd hoped. If you are preparing to adopt, please, please, please look into a clinic such as this one - the information and preparation for your heart and mind and your family's plans is invaluable!}
I've watched her for a couple days now and almost every time she's "singing" she's also sitting in her little rocking chair, either holding her baby or raising her arms up in the air with her eyes squinting shut and her head swaying in time to the rhythm in her head. When I figured out what the repetitive sweet sounds likely are and I realized what it is that is washing over her heart and mind, coming out as "yeaaaaa, yeeeee aaaaaa yuuuuuuuu yeeeeee" I was, again, astounded!

She's singing "Jesus Loves Me."

She's not just singing a song. She's re-creating our time together in the rocking chair at each nap time and bed time when I sing this song and a few others to her before settling into her crib for some much needed sleep. That she's making that connection and imitating it, after only 6 weeks home and probably only 4 weeks of such a regulated routine is nothing short of astounding. That she's often taking it one step further and pretending to worship or to rock her baby to sleep like Momma rocks her to sleep just about brings me to my knees.

THIS is the good stuff of adoption, my friends.

There are many, many hard things about parenting a child from traumatic beginnings. And trust me, as we've been fleshing out the (very likely) details that led to Mei Mei coming home to our Gang, we've realized anew that there have likely been some pretty traumatic experiences in our girl's short little life. To have her HOME, HAPPY, (mostly) HEALTHY, and SINGING her little heart out like this is more of a gift than even I imagined when we were waiting to get to her. And that's comin' from a Momma who has "been there done that" once before. I was (mostly) prepared for the difficult surprises that might come our way - these happy ones still take me off guard sometimes!
{Again, big plug for a great international adoption clinic that has a wide base of information and professional experiences with which to help us piece her story together with the "most likely scenarios" to fill in some of the blanks!}
I posted a link to this article earlier today on my F@cebook page. I put off reading it for a couple days after I first found it because I knew it would be a hard read considering all the transition and anchoring we are settling ourselves into these days. I wasn't wrong. It was a hard read. But also a really good read. Some great reminders for me to step it up in a few areas and some encouragement for the road ahead. Not just for Mei Mei but for Li'l Empress too.

Despite the hard stuff that can come with parenting my little treasure from Ch!na, there are moments that I look at her, rocking in that little chair, singing her heart out. And I'm astounded at the gift she is.

"OOOOOPS! You caught me, Mommy!
And yes, I changed all your settings. Have fun fixing them!"

On a side note: 
I've tried and tried to video Mei Mei "singing" 
but as the resident ham of the house,
each time she sees the camera come out,
she changes up what she's doing
and I keep missing the purity of the moment.
Hence, the surprised look on her face
in the picture above: total surprise mixed with
sheepish recognition of a "no no" behavior! :)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Two Months!

I can't believe it's been two months today since we met our sweet little Mei Mei in person. Recently, we've been watching episodes of "The Little Couple" on TLC and this week's show brought back so many amazing memories of the first days with both of our girls. The whirlwind of our new normal around here has been too fast-paced with far too many doctor appointments, therapy meetings, and end-of-the-year school activities to recount each of them since I last posted. But I do feel like a look back at our girly over these last 8 weeks together might be fun.

This is one of the first pictures we got before we started
peeling her many layers of clothing off her on Gotcha Day.
That sad, kind of vacant look lasted a good portion of the day.

These two pictures are my favorite from our first day together.
She had finally loosened up a bit to trust us to change
her diaper and finish taking down all the layers.
This sweatshirt is one that we had sent to her
back at Christmas time.

After filling her little belly with puffs, yogurt melts, and ramen,
we were getting some smiles out of her.
By the time we were ready to all hit the hay,
about 14 hours after holding her for the first time,
we had been treated to a couple tiny little attempts at giggles.

This is May 8th, as close to the ONE MONTH
mark from Gotcha Day that I could find in my files.
She had discovered that week how much fun
it is to have her hair played with and styled.
Her inner girly-girl did NOT stay tucked away inside for long!

 Neither did her inner "make my Daddy laugh" girl!
Once she discovered how funny it was to contort herself
while Daddy was trying to manage her diaper and p.j.'s,
she started coming up with all kinds of fun tricks!

And here she is today, TWO MONTHS
after meeting her for the first time.
I can't believe how she's filling out!
Excuse the greasy Dominoes pizza doubling
as yet another kind of hair product and the fingers in the mouth.
While I'm everlastingly glad she has some means
of self-soothing and comfort,
it was pretty hard to get a picture of her today
WITHOUT those fingers in her mouth.
Four shots at the pediatrician yesterday
and a week-long tummy virus have seen to that for sure.

See that mischievous grin?
Yeah, she loves taunting and teasing with Daddy.
What you can't see is that she is wiggling her fingers under
his hand, trying to get those fingers BACK
into her little pizza-hole.

No time on Daddy's lap is complete without
his tickly, scratchy kisses on her neck and cheeks.
She sure puts on a good show of trying to avoid it
but minutes after I clicked this quick picture,
she was sneaking right back up onto the couch for more!

No doubt about it, bringing this little one home to join our gang has been crazy, busy, chaotic, and noisy. There have been some very difficult moments of transition and adjustment. We've had to digest some hard reports from the doctors and learn some new techniques for communication and managing her needs. And her eating habits have stretched our creativity and patience to the limits. But there are plenty of sweet, loving, crazy, and fun moments to help us get through the hard stuff. And we all agree that she's a perfect fit for our family and we couldn't be more blessed.