taking it slow, but getting out and about too

Over the last year I’ve chosen to share both the struggle and the joy of our adoption process. Too often I think there is a ‘storybook picture’ of adoption. A family welcoming a new child into their home and everyone lives happily ever after. And yet, there is so much more to life than a storybook. So much of the beauty of life happens after the struggle. We began this week ready to see our daughter grieve hard, to scream all night, to refuse to eat, to shut down. The very opposite has happened. She is eating like a champ. She cries some, but doesn’t scream. She sleeps soundly all night next to me. It is far too early on to know how she is really adjusting or if she is attaching to us. We don’t know if her content and peaceful nature is her personality, an answer to prayer, or a defensive mechanism she has had to build up. We just don’t know yet. Hard days could be ahead, or it could really be this wonderfully smooth for her and she could attach easily to us. And honestly, it just doesn’t matter. Today we are soaking up these wonderful days of bonding with our daughter. We are delighting in her and enjoying the slow paced days learning her ways. Each day is a new day and we are thankful for every moment we’ve been given.

So despite my intention of not sharing a ‘storybook’ picture…well, that is kind of what is happening! She is doing remarkably well.

Some answers to some questions that have been asked:

  • Yes, she is with us all the time. We were given custody on Monday and that was that.
  • She does have a name, but I have chosen not to share our kids’ names on my blog. “FireCracker” is a nickname, not our oldest daughter’s real name. Little One might get a new nickname once we know her a bit better. Her real name means “God is gracious”. Her real middle name is “Song”….it is part of her given Chinese name.
  • I wrote a post regarding common questions about her cleft lip & palate, click here to read it.

About 6 months ago I lost my appetite…well it returned on Monday night. China is a great place to gain your appetite back. Breakfast of champions.


So I mentioned before I left that I got a bunch of really cute Tea Collection clothes for Little One. Well, evidently a few of the ones I picked out don’t scream “Little Girl”…we have been asked many, many times if she is a boy or a girl. To me, the pink dress she wore yesterday and the t-shirt with ruched sleeves today are both totally girly. I’m thinking her little head will look quite lovely in a headband tomorrow.

Their favorite game to play together. He hides. She looks. He cracks up. Repeat.

There is that amazing hand again. With my first four kids I would just assume they are in the ‘hand phase’ – you know the one where they discover their hands. With her, so much is a mystery. I wonder if it is just a normal baby phase. I also wonder if it is related to hours in a crib without a toy. Either way, she sure likes her amazing hands.

We had her medical exam today. She did great, some tears but overall was a trooper. She actually did better than I did. I couldn’t help but think about all the medical stuff she will face in the future. I wish I could endure surgeries for her. I wish I could protect her from all the physical and emotional pain. I wish. I wish.

Seriously Mommy, enough with the pictures already.

We found a beautiful park, but we will have to explore it later. She and I were covered head to toe in the formula she spit out all over me. At least the formula/cereal smell covered the stinky sweaty smell I am sure I had from walking with a baby strapped to me in the heat. Her brothers wanted a picture of all of them with the elephants – she was so excited about that idea.

She is slowly learning how to be held and carried. She is very strong and stiff – not relaxed in our arms at all. Even when we hold her close, she will not hold on or grasp…just holds her hands out. And that is totally fine, we have to earn her trust. We have to earn the right for her to feel safe and comfortable in our arms. It could be a very long process or short process, but it will be a process.

Dawson, Brandon & Sawyer – he would like you to see this picture and he wants you to know he finally lost his first tooth in Guangzhou, China!

FireCracker, I spent $14.00 and scored you and your sister two new dresses. Thought you would like to see them…you’ll enjoy spinning in them!

Tomorrow we will make the 3+ hour drive to our daughter’s hometown and orphanage. We are grateful for the opportunity to visit where she spent her first year of life. We are also looking forward to spending a few days in her hometown to learn more about her history and what life is like in her community. I hope to get lots of pictures to share with her one day. We are also going to visit a little island on our way back to Guangzhou. Both towns are very small by China standards, so I am not sure what our internet will be like. The next few days will probably be wonderfully hard. Such a treasure for us to get pieces of her past, but so difficult to come to grips with those pieces too. Onward we go…

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • susan leah - i cried the moment i read the time you meet her, then, i cried again, and again. guess i’ll be crying with joy everytime you post about her.

  • Monica - Thank you for sharing your journey. I cried reading through your posts. I pray that God will bombard you and your family with His love and that He will give each one of you the wisdom and grace to know how to handle each situation as you adjust. God bless you and your family. I can’t wait to see what is to come!

  • Tamar - So touching…
    It realy good to know that this little gorgeous girl will grow up in your goodhearted family.
    You are so brave and admirable.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Jelena - She is so pretty! :) Congratulations to the whole family. Btw, she seems to be (at least in the pictures) an “observer baby” – the one to sit back and watch and take everything in, so I am sure she will start attaching to you soon.

  • Yanet of 3 Sun Kissed Boys - She looks pretty snuggly in the photograph of Chris holding her and she’s looking up at him. Precious.

    As for you “storybook” adoption story, my belief is that when things “flow” like this, it’s because they are meant to be. Things fall into place because the right decisions have been made. If you feel this way too, I’m sure you find it very reassuring.

  • Kari C. - Love following along! Makes me miss China! If you go to Shamian Island, don’t forget to buy squeaky shoes. :) Lucy’s is yummy and so is the Cow and Bridge. What a precious time with your daughter.

  • lindsey - she looks so happy!!! I’m giving God all the glory for this smooth, bonding beginning! Can’t wait to hear more…

  • angie webb - She sure seems to love daddy. I love how she looks at him. Those dresses are crazy beautiful – only $14? Wow! Cannot wait to See Firecracker and Little One wear them!

  • Ashley - Siobhan, jean, and Johanna all lovely names

  • Heidi M - I have been reading your blog for over a year now and I thoroughly enjoy reading the real life posts and learning from your creativity. I am a silent reader I guess. I don’t have a lot of time to comment. Ya’lls journey through the adoption process has been very close to me. I spent a few weeks in China 4 1/2 years ago with some friends who live there. They are now in the adoption process of a special needs child as well. When you posted the pictures the other day when you first met her. I cried. Now thinking about it again I might just cry now too. :) I am so excited for y’all. I know the journey is not over.

  • Brooke Whitis - These dresses are beautiful! Love them!

    Our first days with Eli, he would be limp as I picked him up, almost as if he didn’t know he was supposed to pick his head up as I picked him up. Probably a lack of being picked up the first 13 months of life… you wouldn’t believe the difference 3 months has made. We had a similar story to you. I expected a tougher road…and he is doing incredible. Adjusting well…loving well….trusting us.

    Today, we went to my doctor and some friends tried to play with him. He came running, screaming back to ME. He knows I am HOME. I am his mom. Forever. You are her mom, forever. Thankful that you are with your sweet girl. Soaking in these moments! Enjoy it. It goes so fast.

    My best friend started researching chinese adoption 3 days ago…when you posted the post about meeting her. PRAISE JESUS for your story and your witness. THANK YOU!!

  • Sharon - Your Little One is so beautiful. God is so good. Thank you for sharing her with us.I guess you know you are a special couple.
    Love Sharon

  • Jessica H. - I see the pictures with her studying her hands and how it is a little different than what your other children did as they grew up. I imagine the Lord is going to use those hands to honor and worship Him. Those hands that are so interesting to her will be vessels for Him to touch the lives of those who are broken and her strength will be used to hold them up as He displays His love for them through her. I believe (as you and your husband are so faithful to pray for her) that the Lord is shaping and forming her (yes even her hands) to be the woman that He created her to be. Thank you for sharing this journey with all of us.

  • Shannon { A Mom's Year } - I clicked over from Design Mom and I’m so glad I did! Congratulations on the newest member of your family. Our youngest is from China as well, and we traveled there 7 years ago with our three older children and my mother. One of the best three weeks of our lives!

    Lily had some challenges (including heart surgery soon after we brought her home), but she’s doing beautifully now. I hope your transition continues to go smoothly!

  • Jen - You guys are where we were in February and having a very similar experience. Our daughter arrived to us from the Jiangcheng SWI, and has “Song” as her middle name, too. I hope you have an awesome time in Guangzhou and not too much trouble with the jet lag when you return. Just allow yourself lots of time to adjust. For us, it has been like having a newborn again. We’re still co-sleeping six months later.

  • julia - praising God for the little one in your arms! What a precious gift!

  • Vhonda - We were foster parents and when we got our “forever son” initially as a foster child, he was 7 months old. He was filthy, had never had shots and when the nurses and I held him down to give him all his shots, I threw up because of how horrible he smelled. He hadn’t been held and was stiff like you described your daughter was. It took a week for him to relax against me and longer to adjust to my husband. What a crazy world for these precious babies. He, initially, was diagnosed as a “failure to thrive” baby, now he’s 7 years old, eats like a hedgehog (his words!) and is smart as a whip! No signs of the trauma that he endured his first 7 months of life, he knows that he’s adopted and that we prayed for him for 10 long years before God gave him to us.

    God bless you and your wonderful family!! God is so, so good!

  • Maddy - Shr’s beautiful! And those eyes!!! Thank you for sharing the journey.

  • Inga - I wish I could share a photo of my 2nd son on his first day of school. He was younger than most of the children starting, yet so excited and independent – I was told to stand back, he would go by himself to put his bag away.

    My son was born with a near identical smile. I too wished that I could endure the surgeries instead, to save him from the pain. He had two in his first year and is coming up for a bone graft to allow his adult tooth to drop (where the palate cleft is joined).

    The surgeries are so long ago, and now seem to be such a small part of his life, when I look back over the years. He’s had a lot of speech therapy, funnily he is so self assured that he blames others for not understanding him. So much for worrying about him feeling different or being teased, he is very resilient.
    I separated from the boys father when my 2nd son was 6months old due to domestic violence which continues sadly. It’s amazing what can be over come with unconditional love.

  • elizabeth - i love the photos of little one in your hubby’s arms!!
    {and that aqua TEA shirt w/ the bird :0}

  • silver - Hi Chris, Ashley Ann & family,

    Two of your photos were included in a very heartwarming post on Buzzfeed today, and I followed the link to your blog, so now I’m sitting here at 3.30am in Ireland with happy tears drying on my cheeks. I just wanted to leave you a note to say Thank You.

    I have a bilateral cleft lip and palate, and although I’m 33 and all the repair work is behind me, I’m sure you know it’s not an easy road. I was lucky to have two incredible parents and four loving siblings who supported me every step of the way. (I promise you, it’s harder on them than it was on me. So take heart! Kids are incredibly resilient.) I can tell by these photographs – and by the way you write – that this little bundle will have all the support and love she needs, to weather those storms.

    The reason for the “Thank You” is because I feel an unspoken kinship with anyone born with the same challenges ahead of them as I had. It can be very difficult for me to look at pictures of cleft babies – it’s distressing on a very deep level – but when I see one as happy and safe as your little daughter is, it has a healing effect on me. So Thank You for that, and for giving her a loving home, and for offering her a future of which she would surely otherwise have been deprived. She’ll thank you herself in years to come, but for now, please accept my compliments on your beautiful family and warm, generous hearts.

  • tulle & chalk » ashleyannphotography.com - […] is a Matilda Jane dress from a couple years ago. Some of FireCracker’s favorite dresses are two I bought in China last year. She loves the frilling, ruffly, twirly kind. So many of you have asked about them over […]

  • Melissa - Even though in most European countries pink is a feminine color, not true in most Asian countries, especially China and Japan. Pink is more often found on boys there than for girls. I smiled when I read your confusion over why so many thought your gorgeous little girl was a boy!
    My granddaughter was born with a unilateral ceft lip and I just wanted to pass this on to you, she will survive and in fact thrive, because of the emmense love you bring to her world. Will it be easy, heck no! But she will grow stronger along with all of you and that strength will be but one of her gifts. I still miss my granddaughters big smile before her surgery at 4 months.
    She is just now 10 and has had three surgeries so far, two that she can remember. The last one was the toughest because it took her out of soccer for the summer and swimming for most of June and July. The pain was secondary. She is one tough, smart, gorgeous, popular little girl and I cant express the love and admiration I have for her. What you have done is such a gift for your precious 5th child. She will adore you forever and you, her. It is a given of course but untill someone raises a child that must face such adversities, they cant begin to imagine the adoration and pride that comes along with the challenges. Congratulations on your wonderful family.

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *