our 6 month post placement visit

Friday we had our 6 month adoption post-placement visit with our social worker. These days I don’t think too much beyond the day I am living, so I hadn’t really thought about the visit. I didn’t do much to prepare other than a quick pick up of the house and made sure all the boys had shirts on. When our social worker arrived we began talking about the last several months and how Little One has been doing. Day to day life is full and busy and there isn’t much time for me to slow down and reflect on things. I don’t think about adoption or growth charts or developmental milestones or even attachment. I’m just a mom with five kids trying to make the most of the days. Adoption brought Little One into our family, but she’s not my ‘adopted daughter’. She’s just my daughter. Plain and simple.

This visit made me take a step back and think about those adoption related things again.

Our last post placement visit was one month after Little One came home. She was very, very delayed in a lot of developmental markers. Months behind where other kids her age typically fall. In fact, at 14 months she tested as a 3 month old in regards to human interaction. You’d never know that now. This time, with exception to speech, she was right on target. What a beautiful thing to witness. Right at the start of the visit our social worker began asking about Little One’s recent lip repair surgery. She asked if I miss her cleft lip. I was not prepared for that question. The instant the question fell from her lips, my eyes welled up with tears and I couldn’t speak. I just wept. I’m going to write about my feelings post surgery soon…it is just so hard to form the words that would make an ounce of sense to anyone else. Soon.

The last few weeks have been harder than normal for my sweet girl. Lots of crying and even screaming from a tiny thing that is normally pretty quiet. She is healthy. She is fed. She has all her basic and non-basic needs met and yet there is something going on in her little head and heart that is causing lots of tears. Talking with those that understand adoption, development, institutional care, etc….it just seems like she is finally letting herself grieve. I know it doesn’t make sense to many…why would a baby grieve a hard past…can she even remember that? The reality is our bodies are designed to need certain things at certain times, especially that first critical year of life. She was deprived of so much and that deprivation plays out in different ways

There are days she cries for really long periods and gets frantic if I am not holding her. In those moments, it can be so easy to feel worn out and worn down. In those moments, my mind goes back to our visit to her orphanage. She’s been home for 6 months and we are still learning each other. I’m learning what things trigger emotional responses in her, but it is a slow process. So much of her history is a blank page for me, so it is like putting together a puzzle with lots of missing pieces. Ultimately though, regardless of the missing pieces my response is the same. I will hold her through her grief. I will hold her now as a toddler when she doesn’t even know or understand the changes. I will hold her as a young girl when she faces the grief of recognizing she doesn’t look like her parents or siblings. I will hold her in grief when she understands what adoption means. I will hold her in her grief as a young woman who wrestles with questions I will never be able to answer.

I will hold her. Not because I am a great mom or because we did some noble thing by ‘rescuing her’. That is so far from reality.

I will hold her because she is my daughter.

So today, I’m thankful.

I’m thankful for that post placement visit.

I’m thankful for reflection.

I’m thankful for grief and joy and dancing in twinkling lights.

I’m thankful today is back to normal life with my five kids and loads of laundry and a sink full of dishes.

I’m thankful for a home that isn’t storybook but where love, in all its imperfections, dwells.

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  • Liz Marie - This post is beautiful. She is beautiful. Your adoption is beautiful. I’m so happy for her and her new life with such a beautiful family. I had tears in my eyes seeing the picture of how the babies are kept there. She is so blessed to have a mommy like you. Her story has opened my eyes to the adoption process & how many different aspects there are. Thank you for always being so open and sharing your story. It’s very helpful.

  • Jacque Calico - What a beautiful, sweet journey with that LITTLE ONE!!! Thanks for sharing…I first saw you at the Church at Battle Creek Christmas giveaway couple years ago, I began interest in photography then. My new step-mom, Gayle is Corrie Egge’s sister. I think your husband may have gone to school with Jessica Tempest back in the day, she has said..

    Blessings….

    Jacque~

  • Fliss - I so get it about the part where you were saying she is your daughter, not your adopted daughter… Shauna still has issues… sleeping issues… alot of people tell me, it is normal at that age (3.5) but it isn’t… I know it isn’t a normal 3.5yr old thing…. this is different… it is like I tell my hubby… it is like that deep, deep down in her little brain there is a memory – not a memory like we know of a memory but a ‘trigger’ for the want of a better word… that it will set off sometimes when she is alone… like sometimes she has to tell me 1,000,000 times a day that she loves me, that she tries so hard to please me… it is hard to describe what I am saying… anyway… hope that all is well… I drop by from time to time – take care…

  • BethAnne - Ashley, I think I’m going to have to start only looking at the beautiful photos on your blog and disregarding all the words. Simply because I end up in tears after every. single. post. Your beautiful words and amazing love for your kids is so touching.

  • Kimber C. - I cried tears of sadness and joy while reading this. Ashley, thank you for sharing this, your words were beautiful!

  • karen - a wood board mattress?!?!? that is just disgusting!! WRONG WRONG WRONG!!! and no excuse can justify it!

  • Ashley - Your story is so inspiring. I’ve been following your blog for a couple of years, and your insights and reflections regularly make me tear up. My husband and I have always wanted to adopt. Thank you for sharing about your journey! I love seeing how God has worked through adoption for your family and especially Little One.

  • Emily - Amazing. Beautiful post. The pictures of LO orphanage just break my heart.

  • Lori Allen - This made me cry tears of joy and sadness for your sweet little girl. I have seen your beautiful little lady blossom so much via your blog and IG and it’s so close to my heart, because I have a little girl the same age. Thank you for sharing your beautiful words.

  • Laura @ Finding Home - I am one of those silent readers – maybe I have commented once before, but probably not. I first found your blog when Firecracker was in the hospital for her leg. I just want to say thank you for your words, your images and your blog. It is a gift.

  • Natalie - Weeping for you as I read this. I need to be a better mom.

  • Yonit - God bless you and your family. You are a beautiful beautiful soal.

  • MarthaB - Such a beautiful post….we are 15 months home with our daughter and my biggest lightbulb moment during our journey so far was (finally!) figuring out that when she had a tantrum, or acted out, or scratched or hit it wasn’t coming from a place of anger but from one of fear. Just as you said her needs are met, all of them, and she is showered with love but that fear still is very real to her. Receiving that information and parenting to it resulted in behavior changes overnight for us. Thank you for continuing to share your story, we hope to adopt again one day and so appreciate those willing to share openly.

  • Mary - God just continually amazes me with His kindness and the way He plans our lives out.
    your story is so beautiful, thank you for sharing it.

    i can’t help but hope that we can someday be blessed enough to be entrusted with a child through adoption.

    xoxo

  • kelleyn - I can’t believe it has been 6 months. Crazy, but I guess it is true. I found your blog just as you were picking up your baby and I was beginning my journey to our baby. This post is so so beautiful.

  • Angela - I can imagine that all of the wonderful changes in her life since August can not erase what had to be a shock, to be taken from her only home and placed in another. With her delays, it does make sense that it took a while for that shock to catch up with her.

    I’m sure she knows that she is safe in your arms, no matter what is going on inside. This fierce knowledge of yours, that she is your daughter and no other label need apply, will sustain her through the tough times ahead.

  • Manu Tessinari - You always make me cry. Your words are so strong and so full of love. God bless you and your family…

  • jenny paul - ashley campbell-you are such an inspiration. not because of all the amazing things you do-which you totally do-but because of the grace and honesty with which you do them. this is just beautiful.

  • Lahna - Dear Ashley,
    I’m so thankful for you and the beautiful love you have for your kids.
    I’m so happy to read that you don’t feel like you didn’t rescue Little One.
    These days I watched a video on YouTube and it made me think of you.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMa0LXRxjUA
    It’s in portuguese, but the little girl comes and asks:
    “Mommy, did you give birth to me?”
    The mom asks why, and the girls says that at school the kids said she was not born from her mom.
    Then the mom says:
    “Before you arrived, I was always sad. And when you came to me, you made me the happiest person. So if anyone asks you if I was the one who put you in this world, you say it was the opposite, you say it was you who put me in this world.”
    I cried rivers… this subjetc is very close to my heart.
    Anyway, I always loved the way you just love Little One, as your daughter, without overthinking, just doing what a mom do.
    After all, you had your time waiting for her, just like a pregnancy, just instead growing in your belly, she grew inside your heart.
    You inspire me. Thank you.
    Have a great week. :)

  • Tracy a - Can I call you this week? Just finished my adoption class and this week’s topic was grief and loss. You teach me friend!! I’d love to listen and ask a few questions!

  • Amy K. - I know nothing about any of it, but my first thought was that she is trusting you enough to begin to face her grief… she feels safe & loved, and knows on some level that no matter how much she cries or clings or has tantrums, you are her family.

  • Steph - Reading thru tears…
    What a touching post.
    Praying for you!
    XO

  • joy fisher - I’m a mother of two natural born daughters (6 adn 3)and, though I haven’t shared your adoption experience, I’ve followed Song’s story closely because it is something we are considering. At any rate, I just had to write in to say that I think your reaction to the question about your daugher’s cleft makes more sense to others than you realize. After my father passed, away almost two years ago, I realized for the first time how symbolic his hands and glasses were to me. It is not something that I recognized when he was living so it came as a surprise to have such an extreme emotional reaction to finding a pair of his glasses in his desk drawer, for example. Songs cleft, and the remaining scar, is symbolic of so much, not least of which is that it is because of that cleft that you found one another. To lose something so important, even if in the long run it is better for her, couldn’t possibly go without a strong need to greive, especially not for you with your sensative heart. I’m consistantly amazed by how much of your amazing family you share with us. It continues to be a beautiful story and an inspiration. Thank you.

  • Kaley - You are such an amazing mama! Little one is so lucky to be a part of such a loving family, and you all are so blessed to have her.

  • jennifer jessen - Hi! I just had to leave a comment about your post. It was wonderful. It completely touched my heart. I found your website through Karen Russell. I’m a student in her workshop. I’ve downloaded your blog(s) onto my reader and I just had to introduce myself to you as a new fan of your work and your outlook on life. This touched me on so many levels. I’m a terrible photographer, and I’m in awe of your skill. I’m baby hungry, and we have been considering adoption. I have a brother who was born with cleft lip/cleft palate, and it’s done nothing but make him more handsome. The pain, the surgeries, the worry; it all resounded with me. Thanks for your post and for your beautiful blog. I’ll be reading consistently.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - OH, look at those toes – and those eyes. Little One has changed so many lives. I wish I could be there to take a few moments of rocking with her. And just whisper to her that she is loved and that she has grown my heart.

  • Mary from TN - I’ve been reading for a long time. Normally never comment but this post was just so beautiful I felt like I needed to. She has grown and changed so much in 6 months. Such a beautiful little girl.

  • Pam S. - I kept thinking the same word all the while reading this post…Beautiful…then I read through the posts before mine and every one had the same theme…such a beautiful post and beautiful child…I’m teary-eyed. I love your reading your blog!

  • Clare - I would just like to tell you that this blog is a beautiful thing. I happened to stumble upon it when I was looking up diy projects and ended up sitting, reading your posts, admiring your pictures, crying, laughing, thinking about how adopting a child in a similar situation as Little One, for about three hours. I would like to thank you. This is a beautiful thing that you have and it is wonderful that you are sharing your family, struggles, and happiness to us. You have a beautiful family and life.
    Thank you.

  • Karen - I love you. Can’t say more I am crying AGAIN

  • Mandy - And I am so thankful for you and your amazing blog. I so look forward to every single post of yours. Beautiful words, photos and people. This post is no exception. Beautiful. Thank you.

  • Gayle - Beautiful words.

  • Gina - Go, Ashley, go. This post made me cry. Tears of understanding. Have a great week!

  • Danielle - So beautiful.

  • Nicole - Ashley,
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful family and story. Little One is stunning.

  • Lili - Thank you so much for this post. I just tripped over this blog, and was very moved by this post. What a gorgeous little girl you have right here.

  • Izabela - Such a beautiful and meaningful post. I love following this journey you are on. Thank you for sharing from your heart.

  • ranee - beautiful!

  • Jenni - Love the pictures, love you more with every post:)

  • Jessica - After not understanding your hesitation to get the cleft repair, my son finally got his first teeth. And I cried. His smile was so different! Super cute, but different from the first 6 months of knowing him. So, while I haven’t been in your shoes, I feel like I understand where you are coming from.
    You are a great mom. You love so fully, and it shows in how wonderful your children are with each other.
    Thank you for sharing your life. As my life changes, I find that I get more comfort from your blog than a few years ago when I was childless and just enjoying your craftiness. God bless.

  • Alice H - Her hair is so beautiful!! And I just love the depth in her eyes! You are a wonderful mom and all 5 of your kids are so lucky to have you. As you are lucky to have them. I still think she looks so much like Chris. I think its the shape of their round faces and their eyes.

  • jenny - beautiful post. beautiful little girl. :)

  • Ellie - I know how hard it can be to communicate with the little ones in our lives. A great way to help is a little basic sign language. We use the seies signing time because it is so simple. I would highly recommend learning basic sign language to anyone with not yet talking little ones!

  • natalie - thank you for sharing these thoughts with us this morning. it touches me so to read your amazing story of your daughter. so much love to you!

  • molly - i found your blog while u were still in china. i couldnt get enough reading about your journey. we hope to be able to adopt from china eventually. we have just adopted from foster care, a 6 year old boy and 3 year old girl sibling group. they are so amazing and resiliant, yet so broken. mostly with my daughter i see the developemental stages being replayed. she wants to be a baby again with me. it can be so frustrating, yet i try to remember that their brains are wired differently because of their experiences and the best thing i can to is try to work through with them. we feel so blessed to parent these kids and give them the love and life they never would have had. thanks for posting about the hard stuff.

  • Regina - The only thing I can think to say is what everyone else already said…what a beautiful post! It really has been inspiring to watch your journey. Thank you.

  • Kiley Buttacavoli - Ashley,

    This brought me to tears. Sharing your life, journey through adoption and true feelings is truly an inspiration.

    Thank you.

  • mandi@herbanhomestead - I wish we could sit over a cup of tea and talk over these things. We brought our daughter home one month after you brought LO home. The biggest surprise about adoption to me has been how unwilling others are to see that babies can suffer trauma and “remember” it. I knew people would wonder about things, but I really thought that once we shared with them the science of brain formation, attachment and what not that they’d get it. I was so wrong on that count. That has been a struggle for us. Not with strangers, but those that are close to us.
    All of this to say- I get this. I get the long days of extra cuddles. The remembering, oh yeah, it’s only been 5 months. The very full days have only added up to 5 months. I get the feeling that she’s not your adopted daughter. She is simply daughter. We live this out in our home too. I get the inability to put emotions into words. All I know is that when I run to the store without her, I feel like I left my arm at home. What a beautiful, messy gift adoption is.

  • Brandi - The shortest verse in the bible is “Jesus wept.” How awesome is that? Jesus wept. Sometimes crying is all we can do. So amazing that Little One has you to weep with. You are blessed to have each other, even on hard days.

  • kimberly oyler - you’re a good mom, ashley. thanks for sharing your heart.

  • rachel p - You have the most beautiful heart, Ashley! You inspire me daily to be a better mother, a better person. Thank you for sharing the true story of your full life with us. The world is a better place with you in it!

  • Dawn - Thank you so much for sharing! We do understand the grieving part, we went through it with our daughter that was 18 months when she came home! I think I cried as much as she did. Holding and praying our Lord would heal.

    I know Little One couldn’t be loved more and will continue to be healed in many ways.

  • Kara M - She is so precious! Cindy Foote wrote a beautiful post about her daughter’s grief and freedom 6 1/2 years after coming home. It is beautiful! Check it out: http://thispoeticpresent.blogspot.com/2013/03/not-broken-anymore.html

  • flor - what a beautiful love story between a mother and her daughter.
    and it’s just beginning.
    as with any love story there are bumps in the road
    but through it all there’s always love.
    xoxo

  • Courtney - My goodness Ashley, this post slayed me. She is a beautiful girl and is incredibly lucky to have you for a mom. Her journey through those hard milestones will be made easier because she knows you are there always and forever.

    Also, her painted toes are the cutest!

  • tracy a - did I mention how stinkin’ cute her little painted toes are?? so precious!!

  • MW - Beautiful post Ashley

  • Kelsey - I found your blog through Pinterest right as you were beginning your adoption process. It caught my eye because I am originally from your neck of the woods and my sister is a photographer in your area. I have never really been a “blogger” or read many blogs before yours, and through yours I was inspired to start. My husband and I are about to start fostering and I thought a blog would be a good way to record all of that. Thank you for your insight and the inspiration that your family is to people you don’t even realize are reading =). Thank you for being real.
    Kels

  • kateh - Dear one, you are an inspiring woman and mom. Thanks for being vulnerable and allowing us to “look” in. May i suggest American sign language for Little One? We did it with all 4 of our children and it was such a gift. It was especially helpful to our one who was late to talk and walk. Her frustration would have been so much more unbearable for all of us had she not some way to communicate. For some reason, hand signing is much easier than verbal language. Just start with a few basics and see where that goes. Just a word to think on…use American Sign Language, not some of the baby sign language that is out there. If you are going to teach another language it might as well be a real one and not jibberish!

  • natalie - Wow…I read this as I was nursing my 6 month old before her nap and it just makes me cry…not sure what to say, but it breaks my heart to see where Little One came from and how their are many more in her former situation. I am so blessed. You are so blessed.

  • Victoria / Justice Pirate - Aw. that is cute though sad that you cried and cried when asked the question about her lip. Her smile is beautiful no matter what and she is certainly growing so much and your daughter is amazing!!!

  • amber - Oh my heart. I wish I knew her. I’d love to squeeze her. Thank you so much for sharing this journey. Adoption is stunning. And she’s amazing. So brave. God is so good.

  • Kristi - Hey. So I know we probably won’t ever meet or be friends in real life but I want to thank you for writing and documenting your life with us. I have been challenged and forced to think through stuff in my life because of your blog and for that I am grateful. Today is another one of those times. I have a couple of friends who have adopted and it is beautiful and wonderful to read through your journey and have it open up different ideas/ways to pray for our friends…ways that I didn’t even know we should be praying. So thank you.

  • Sarah - I am completely moved by this post. My mother was adopted from Japan at the age of 4 or 5 over 60 years ago. Very little was known about her early years. I was initially drawn to your blog and LO’s story because you have participated so much in getting to know your daughter; traveling to China, visiting her hometown, buying gifts for each birthday, celebrating the Chinese New Year, etc… I am continually amazed at what you have provided to LO. 60 years ago when my mother was adopted I just don’t think anyone understood what a challenge it can be for the child AND the family. My mother didn’t do well with her family over the years. I think they loved her, but never knew how to understand the pain she must have felt even at such a young age. I instantly felt sorrow and happiness reading your lines about just “holding her.” She will need that for many years to come. More importantly she will need a way to express her pain, which my mother never had. I feel like she just internalized it and it caused many years of pain and illness. You are setting a wonderful example. I am so inspired by you and your family. Thank you.

  • betsy - love this. beautifully written. (from the point of view of someone who’s adopted.)

  • Regan - It is almost unbearable to think of, but those babies that grow up in these places and never feel real love. That is existing, not living.

    You saved her life. You and so many other parents are giving these beautiful people a life of love. That is priceless. You saved her life and she absolutely enriched yours. She gave you a gift you otherwise woud never know.

    From existing in a metal and wood crib to being a part of your family across the world with open fields, lots of things to do and lots of contact with different people has got to just be such a shock. She is finding her way and falling more & more in love with you. She is yours and you are hers. You found the one that was to be in your family. You knew she was out there and you did everything to go and find her and you did!

    You gave her a family and she filled the place in your heart that was open and waiting.

  • Miranda Hazeveld - Beautiful post. Little one just like a flower. She open up when she is ready.

  • Dee - Thank you for sharing your life and your story with us. I have loved following your adoption journey! Your precious baby girl is so beautiful and it makes my day everyday to read your blog posts.

  • kay curry - Beautiful! Just beautiful.

  • Angela - The first time I read your blog was the day you met Little One. We had just received our referral for our son that morning, and a friend emailed me the link to your page. So many tears fell as I read your posts! Everyday I couldn’t wait to read what you had written from China, knowing that soon we would be there, too. We are flying to Beijing next week, and I hope to be able to post updates for family and friends on my blog. Any suggestions or tips on successful uploading from the hotel?

  • stacy dean - my heart wells up with so much happiness/sadness with this post. It is just surreal to think of the ripple effect one person can have on a life, and how that ripple can even effect just a random blog reader. I cannot put into words how much I love your thoughts and your experiences. I also can’t put into words the sorrow that I feel when I think of that picture of how the babies just stay in those cribs all day. Perhaps adoption is in my future as well because the reality of that picture feels too unacceptable.

    xo S

  • Kimberly Dial - Wow! The progress she’s made is amazing although I’m not surprised. I can tell by her pics that she is thriving. Thanks for sharing this journey Ashley. It’s not unusual for me to cry as I read your blog but hey, that’s a good thing. Tears very often prompt me to pray for your sweet family!

  • Kara - What a beautiful post. And such a beautiful daughter.

  • Laura J - You do a terrific job of sharing your thoughts and feelings. My daughter came home from foster care in Guatemala when she was 8 1/2 months old. Her grief for the first two weeks was so strong and agonizing to watch. I just kept holding her and saying to myself, this is what her birth mother, foster mom and I worked so hard for, to bring her to us. I cannot change her grief, but I can support her in it. Then after two weeks, I could see her forgetting her old life. She would cry, but then look sort of lost, because she couldn’t remember what she was sad about. Then I cried, for the life she had in Guatemala, her memories now lost forever.

  • Tammia - This is a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing the hard part about adoption…the thing I was least prepared for: grief. Grief shared by our whole family, but felt most deeply by our daughter. It took our daughter almost an entire year to start calling me “mama.” We can’t underestimate the hurt & confusion carried inside of these precious little souls. Thanks for your honesty.

  • Josephine - Wow. Yet again, you so eloquently explain the inexplicable. May the orce stay with you ;-)

  • Jenn Hays - Four and a half years ago we adopted our daughter from Africa. She was with her birth mom for 10 months and then in an orphanage until age 2. About 1 year after we adopted her, we started to see signs of her trying to work through her trauma. It is very difficult to be with your child, holding them, and not being able to fix it. Lots of holding is important! It is not a process you can rush. We think of it as riding a wave. We are there to ride it with her and support her but we cannot undo what has been done to her. We hold firmly to the promise that God is the Great Healer and that He will heal our daughter. I will be praying for you and your daughter!

  • able mabel - This was such a lovely post! It touched my heart! Hang in there, you are doing an awesome job with Little One!!

  • Jenni - Beautiful! Reflection really is so great!

  • megan@contentedsparrow - how i love your heart.

  • Kate - I love your blog. I have read for many months now and am always inspired and moved. We have a toddler and a 7-month-old, both boys. We have a FireCracker too! And, he had a book party for his first birthday and donated the books to Children’s Hospital! (I later realized that you also had a book party…I tell you, this world is a small place to live. Both of our children have special medical situations, so it is important to us to give back). Anyway…

    Our toddler was named FC by a group of pilots who welcomed our him into their club. Your FireCracker and mine are very much alike…both with magnificently wild hair, spirits that reach old and young, and well…whatever it is that makes a FireCracker a FireCracker. We wait in anticipation to see what our tiny boy will dawn as his nick name. My husband and I are also on an adoption journey so truly, the connections for me run deep. Your blog is a safe place where I can cuddle under a blanket and read for hours, sometimes the same posts over and over. I return to your blog several times each week, and though you do not know me, I feel as though you are a friend. Your words are warm and soothing, just what I need at the end of a hard day. So I thank you, for all of it. Mostly, thanks for keeping us updated on Little One. She’s amazing. They all are.

  • Jack - “I will hold her because she is my daughter.” That simple sentence made me cry! What a timely reminder for me of my job as a mum.

  • Lindsay - Absolutely beautiful! I thank God for your beautiful little girl and for your beautiful family. This is probably the most beautiful post I have ever read, that which brought me to tears this morning.

    Happy Easter Little One!

  • Katie - Beautiful, thank you.

  • Maria Cecilia - HI, my name is cecilia, i’m from argentina (so english is not my first language, so if I make a mistake forgive me!!!) I’ve recently discovered your blog, following some picture in pinterest about some craft you made and now I can’t spend one day with out checking it. Honestly, I never comment on any blog but after reading that old post about the people that complains about the fact that your bolg covers many topics beyond crafts or photography, I had to say something.
    well, the fact is that I’ve stayed on your blog because of those variety of topics: I’m a mom too (2 little boys), I have a husband, I work, I’m a catholic (although not as passionate like you are about religion)I like to craft, sew (very poorly by the way, but someday I’ll get better, ja ), knit and I share many of your visions about life or goals (others I don’t ). Frequently I found myself a little overwhelmed by all the things I’m supposed to do, and the ones I want to do (and of course I don’t have enough time) and not very patient with my kids or even my poor husband that endures me, and your blog has really help me. To appreciate all the good things in my life and to thank God about it. And to realize how fortunate I am, something we tend to forget in the chaos of everyday.
    So this comment is to thank you and telling you to go on, I will keep reading your blog!!!

  • angie - Little One has stolen my heart and I don’t even know her! Such a beauty. And that nose crinkle smile?! Oh my word. Beautiful post. Beautiful words. Beautiful girl. Beautiful family. Just beautiful!

  • Jenna - My daughter smiles with her nose crinkled up like Little One and I just love it! Thank you for sharing your story, it is truly inspiring to me as we plan to adopt in the future. Your family is beautiful!

  • Angie Walsh - Just beautiful! xxx

  • tara pollard pakosta - beautifully written, she’s a beautiful blessed girl and you are so blessed to call her your daughter!
    I wish the best for her and all of you!
    gorgeous photos of a beautiful baby!
    tara

  • Chrissy - Ashley, posts like these make this hands down my absolute FAVORITE blog!! I have fallen so in love with your daughter, and your whole story. I really appreciate you being so genuine and open and honest– with strangers! The stories of your hardships and happiness re. this little girl are one of the most touching and beautiful stories I have ever heard.

    And the photos of her in this post are breath taking! I had to take second and third looks. She is so sweet looking, and so brave inside. I am rooting for her!! So, thank you for sharing.

    xoxo

  • MG Atwood - Such a beautiful post. It brought tears to my eyes. I’m going to share this with my friend who brought a little one home from Russia. This little one has down syndrome, so not sure how it will relate to her memories. she all ready has lost the few Russian words she knew. Can’t believe how big little one is getting!

  • Tira J - Beautiful post! xoxo

  • Karen J Moseley - That last photo is stunning! She is her Mama’s Daughter. I see you, in her. She’s is petite and tender. Firecracker looks like you physically, but Little One was meant to be your daughter, after a hard year. She is healing. Ashley, you are such a good Mama. Do you ever hold her “skin to skin”? Maybe bathing with her would give her that physical touch. Some people are not comfortable with that and it gets to be each persons choice. But, I believe it forms a closeness that is normal between a newborn and a Mama. Little One likely never got that.
    The Nurse in me has to mention/suggest the possibility of a bladder infection. Burning upon urination?? Have you noticed a stronger smell or darker urine? Bladder spasms are extremely painful. Again, just a thought.
    I’ll be praying for you & your baby Girl. Hugs ~ Jo

  • Julia Leinen - I love that you acknowledge the grief instead of glamourizing. I am so heartbroken that any child has to go through this type of grief. But she is so blessed to have you to hold her hand through it as she processes.
    she is super duper cute BTW. wanna squeeze her! : )

  • heather - i love the way you love. does that make sense? it’s such an inspiration to me.
    xo

  • (Michele ) The Hills Are Alive - This is beautiful. She is beautiful.
    You probably know all about this already but there is an amazing program all about attachment called the Circle of Security by Bert Powell and Kent Hoffman. I have done some of their training when they came out to Australia and I have to say it is the best psych training I have ever done in over 20 years. They have taken all the complex attachment research and brain development research and parenting program research related to attachement and put it into a really accessible parenting program. They are US based so I wonder if you would be able to find someone nearby you to go through the content of the program with you? Or if adoption services could integrate it into some of their support resources for adoptive parents to help explain and support re attachment issues in adopted children?? I am happy to email you more information on it if you would like?

  • Kerry@PlentyPlace - I’m thankful for you sharing. I see God through you.

  • cyndi - I have been following you for awhile now and I have to say you are inspiring. I appreciate how you do not attempt to portray yourself & your family in a perfect frame rather you reveal whats real & raw. Your life is so very rich & you touch so many of your readers lives through your words & photos. Thank you ;0}

  • Laura - Love this post; an expert came on radio the other day and explained that babies know at a very early age (specifically in the womb!) when they are loved and when they are NOT WANTED. That was profound to me. The expert said this is how their personality is shaped (in the womb). I love yor blog, I am new to it. I do not know about all of what experts say is correct, I thought it to be very interesting and profound.

  • Kerry - Babies remember, they can’t remember things in complex details, what they remember are simple: happy, sad, hungry, full, love. The change in little one’s surroundings will probably confuse all these simple fragments implanted in her mind, but I plead you to have the patience and realise any day will be a brand new day, a fresh start for this little girl. As absurd as it sounds, little one found comfort in her previous home in her own little way and giving her a new comfort, no matter how much better, will be scary for her. I am so grateful that little one found a loving mother like you. One thing the kindergarten teachers in my workplace do with the little kids (~1-2 years old) is sing lots of English songs with them, it’s kind of obvious but you won’t believe how fast the children learn from this. The first language for all of them is Cantonese and their parents speak Canto with them at home, yet they manage to maintain their English at bilingual level. Incorporate actions as well, in fact as many senses as possible. I hope this helps and looking forward to hearing more about little one from you in the future!

  • AshleyAnn - Kerry – you don’t have to plead with me to have patience and realize those things…I do, I do :) Thank you.

  • Sharon - Beautiful little girl, your Little One. It’s hard to know what all goes on in their little heads, they’ve been through so much and so young. It does get better with time, but it’s just hard to see them struggle. When we brought home our 2nd child (at 14 months) from overseas, she was so quiet, serious and contemplative. She did eventually open up and seemed happy a lot of the time, but there were times, particularly at night when she went to sleep, that she just seemed to be lost. She “needed” to know that I was right there beside her, that she had constant access and that also seemed to be when she would mourn, for lack of a better term. She would also use the same self-soothing habit of rubbing her ear until she fell asleep (she had calluses from doing this so much early in her life when trying to comfort herself). I remember reading that one author’s experience was that if you adopted a child at 1 year old, then it generally would take at least a year for them to feel a part of the family, if 2 years old, then 2 years to acclimate and so on. I don’t think it is true in all circumstances, but it’s a good rule of thumb. With our 2nd adoption of our son at age 2 1/2, it didn’t seem to take as long. They are now 11 and 12, with a big sister who’s 14. Love reading your blog, wish this type of thing had been available when we were going through the many trials of the adoption process! Little One will come through it, I KNOW how fortunate you feel to have her in your life. A GIFT for sure!

  • elizabeth H - “…the greatest of these is LOVE”
    what a beautiful heart you have Ashley.

  • sheri - Beautiful words for your daughter…she is precious. I remember those dark, early days. Trying to sort through the why’s, frantically looking for answers. Blessings in the midst of fear. Somehow you float to the top and can’t believe how far you’ve come. Many blessings on your journey with Little One-such a gift!

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