a year ago today

Today marks one year since we became a family of seven.  It was a day full of beauty for us, but a bittersweet beauty. While we gained a daughter, we also recognized the great loss she faced on that day. It was a beautiful day and a broken day. A day I will forever treasure and a day I will continue to shed many tears over. I can’t put to words how one day can be so full of joy and so full of pain. Such great gain and such immense loss. To feel my daughter, finally in my arms, and to feel her brokeness and loss at the same time – it will always break me.

Because there is beauty in remembering and joy in hindsight….here is the post I wrote last year, on this day.

August 27, 2012 ~ Guangzhou, China

We had all morning to kill time. We weren’t meeting our guide until 2:00pm.

The boys worked on their travel journals. We skyped their brother and sister back at home. The first thing FireCracker wanted to know is if I had her sister.

Then we headed to a new market street. I needed to buy rice cereal. The boys wanted buy flowers for their new sister. I just wanted to keeping moving.

So many distractions should have helped, but I kept thinking about our daughter. Was she on her way to Guangzhou? Was she coming via a van or the public coach? How did her day begin? Was she scared of all the new sights? Was she excited by the change of scenery and new faces? Was she at peace? Was she okay?

The boys found a kitten to photograph…and got a lot of smiles and laughs from locals.

Our hotel is in a modern area full of lots of big nice hotels and shops. But, this is the part of China I enjoy the most. Little alleys full of life and people.

We found the rice cereal, a cold Sprite, flowers and some Oreos for the boys. Then headed back to the hotel, where I uploaded these photos as a distraction.

2 hours to kill.

National Geographic animal shows on the tv.

Dumplings for lunch for Chris. I couldn’t eat.

The hotel staff rolled in a crib.

Freaked out.

Boiled some water for Little One’s bottle (told she drinks them piping hot).

Clock moving slower than a turtle.

My heart racing faster than a rabbit.

Stomach in knots.

And then it was time to head to the lobby to meet Helen, our guide.

Deep breath. A hundred deep breaths.

And we left the hotel.

Got in a van.

Arrived at a government building and waited.

Then my oldest said, “I see her. She’s right there!” Sure enough she had just walked past us in her nanny’s arms and back into a little room. Not at all what I envisioned as the moment I would first behold my daughter. It happened so fast…there she was…and then she was gone.

And we waited.

Our name was called and they brought her out.

I was so worried about her. So scared for her. The minute her tears started so did mine. I was hurting for her….

And then she stopped. She held on tight to me and was content in my arms. The director and a nanny from her orphanage brought her. We had a chance to ask them some questions and were grateful for little tidbits they shared. We look forward to learning more when we visit her orphanage later this week. They shared with us some photos of her from that morning…doing what looked like gymnastics moves on the ground. The same moves her big sister likes to do.

I was so worried about feeding her. Trying to guess which Chinese formula and rice cereal to buy. How much of each to put in the bottle. How hot the water should be. How big of a hole to cut in the top of the nipple. Cleft bottle or regular bottle. And how to feed her in regards to her cleft. So worried.

Turns out we did okay together. I made a few mistakes, but next time will be better. She downed the bottle in record time – so hungry.

Once her little belly was full, we got to see some of her spunky personality. We’ve only seen one photo of her with a smile, so I’ve wondered is she could smile easily or if it would be a long road before we saw her smile and heard her giggle. Turns out daddy was able to evoke both really easily.

She is quite simply awesome.

We’ve learned she likes to make a clicking/sucking noise with her tongue and cleft palate. It is pretty loud and sounds a lot like the Chinese squeaky shoes. She seems to do it to soothe herself. She also likes to put her thumb in the cleft of her palate and suck. It is pretty cute.

She fell asleep in her daddy’s arms. Probably the first time she’s fallen asleep in someone’s arms.

Today I was prepared for the worst case scenario. It was so very different. So peaceful, even in the tears. So natural. It was so much like the first times I met her older brothers and sister. And yet it was so very different. Today was beautiful. Our hearts are full. We are beaming. I am overcome with gratitude that God has given us this beautiful gift in the form of a tiny daughter. She is completely awesome.

Today was beautiful.

August 27, 2013. One year later. My beautiful baby has grown into a vibrant, full of life little girl.

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  • Lisa Box - Crying tears of joy for you and your beautiful family, Ashley! I cried last year, too, as I read your meeting-little-one post the first time. What a gift it has been to watch your journey these past couple of years…thank you for sharing it with all of us!

  • Faith - Oh wow you made me cry such a huge cry reading your story and looking at the photos..the one of your husband holding her wrapped in her blanket with a tear streaming down his cheek and her gazing at him..Oh wow..man who hasn’t felt that..that power of love with your child..that was what got me..just seeing the two of them…how safe she must of felt and how loved she was. I am so happy for all of you..what a beautiful story and thank you for sharing with someone like me..someone who just came across your blog and liked your photos..I am glad I didn’t just glaze over it but actually read it all.
    Have a blessed day.
    You put me in my place today.
    No complaining about the little things in my life.
    I feel very humble.

  • Jill Curtis - Wow.

  • Kristen @ LoveK Blog - What a beautiful story. I had tears in my eyes seeing how you all bonded so quickly. Beautiful moments, thanks for sharing.

  • sandy - I just stumbled upon your blog and ran into this post which brought me to happy tears. You and your family are an amazing inspiration! Thank you for touching my soul.

  • Luana - i love the photos!!

  • Victoria - Man oh man, I’ve broken the record for how many tears of rejoicing a stranger should cry over the same pictures. Thankful for your story!

  • Kimberly Parker - Bless you and your family for taking this little one into your hearts and your home. I, too, was born with a cleft lip–although I was fortunate enough not to have a cleft palate. I am amazed at the beauty of the repairs now. Mine started when I was born in 1963 and it took them 5 surgeries for the result to look as good as your little girl’s! God be with you all as you continue to nurture her!

  • Kimberlee Jost - The picture from last year where Chris is holding her in the hotel room…with the quilt.
    I had not seen that tear stain until today. THAT is beautiful. Probably one of my favorite pictures you’ve ever taken.

    How can it be a year? This feels so fresh in my brain. And now I am crying too. Love you and all your kids.

  • Johanna - Such a beautiful and inspirational story of her journey…she is so beautiful! Congrats to you and your family on ONE YEAR togehther!!

  • Sunshine Mama - Such a beautiful story! Thanks for sharing with us. You have a beautiful family!

  • Ann - I cried the same way I did a year ago. It has been wonderfual being allowed to follow your journey. You and your family inspire me.

  • elizabeth H - i remember the day you posted this . . . how my heart swelled for you! the joy of knowing Little One would finally be in your arms!!
    & now, a year later, your BEAUTIFUL, thriving Little One is home; a part of your family photo’s.

  • Lori - Such a beautiful post and the original one still makes me cry. Happy “gotcha” day. :)

  • Carolyn - I can’t believe it has been a whole year! She has grown so much and is clearly a happy child surrounded by love. Congratulations to your family on this anniversary!

  • Chelsey - Thank you for reposting this special moment. It is one of my favorites from the blog. So very happy for your family! #criedallthetears

  • DAniela - respect!
    i’m sure, that little one is in the right family now ;-)
    enjoy all your kids, its a very special gift!
    greetings from switzerland, daniela

  • Cathy - Thank you for sharing this with us. So touching and emotional. Love your family.

  • kelly rae - This is an incredibly beautiful story which brought tears to my eyes-your daughter is incredibly gorgeous!

  • Vanisha's Life in...Australia - I’m only new to your blog so I’ve only just come across this post. I’m 27 years old and I found out a few months ago that I can’t have children. I’ve have a few decisions to make and am leaning heavily towards adoption but I have such a huge fear of ‘that day’ turning out differently. Your post has brought me a small amount of comfort which means a lot. Thank you.

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