Dec 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I didn't give you the gift of life
But in my heart I know.
The love I feel is deep and real,
As if it had been so.
For us to have each other
Is like a dream come true!
No, I didn't give you
The gift of life,
Life gave me the gift of you.
~author unknown~

Merry Christmas Chloe!

Chloe decided to wrap this present on her own.
She's had a great time helping in the kitchen this season.

Chloe is coming out with new words each day. Today, she learned that she is one.

Dec 8, 2008

Christmas is Coming

We just had to stop and thank God as we began decorating our Christmas tree this week. For the last 3 years as we celebrated Christmas we would say "this will be the last Christmas without Chloe." Finally, we can say "THIS IS OUR FIRST CHRISTMAS WITH CHLOE!" I pray that we stop for moment each day and just cherish how special this Holiday Season truly is for our family.

Chloe liked hanging the ornaments on the tree. So far they're all still hanging there.
Chloe loves to play "music" on the piano. However, last night she didn't think that 2 hands were enough sound, so she added her feet too.

Dec 5, 2008

Spagetti Anyone?

Chloe is making great strides in using utensils to feed herself. I just had to snap a picture today of what she looked like after her 3rd bowl of spaghetti. Obviously, she was feeding herself.

Chloe has always been a great eater, sometimes eating more than my older girls. Unfortunately, Chloe has yet to tell us when she's hungry. If she doesn't see food, she just doesn't ask. It's hard to think about how many times she must have been hungry and learned to ignore it. I'm sure that she will eventually learn to let us know of her needs, but until then it's a harsh reality of what she has been through in her little short life. There is hope though. When we first got Chloe, she didn't cry when she got hurt. She had learned that there was no point, because no one could come when she cried. Since then, as we comforted her anyway, she has learned that there is a good reason to cry when you get hurt. Now she tells us exactly where it hurts. So, we'll keep asking her if she's hungry and offer her food anyway. Eventually, the implications of orphanage life will wear off and she'll just be an average American kid who asks for food an hour after each meal :)

Nov 29, 2008

Meet Jazmyne

I would like to introduce you to Jazmyne Rose-Noel Rees, Chloe's Jie Jie. We had a special opportunity to share a couple days with this little girl who had such a lasting impact on Chloe's life.
Their first meeting was little tentative. Jazmyne was in a new place with lots of new faces. At first they just kind of looked at each other like "I think I know this person." As they spent some more time together, it was just obvious that they were familiar.
Chloe played and interacted with Jazmyne like she was an old friend and they had played many times before. This was very surprising, because Chloe doesn't really play with any other children. When she's with others, she just kind of ignores them. With Jazmyne though, it just seemed like the interaction between them was something that had happened often before.
Rick & Kathy brought adorable matching panda outfits for the girls to wear.
Jazmyne is still great at spreading love around and she shared it with our whole family.

It was quite a trip trying to get both a 1 and a 2 year old to hold still long enough to take a picture. I think someone should have been video taping we 4 parents practically standing on heads trying to get a good picture.
Obviously it was worth the effort, because some of the photos we got were just priceless!
Jazmyne with her forever Mama and Dada.
I was reminded just this evening that we prayed often specifically that God would provide someone to show Chloe love until we could be there to do it ourselves. I just never imagined that God would provide in the form of another little girl. We are truly blessed with answered prayer and now a new friendship with Jazmyne and her family. May God's blessing be always on her life and may she always be surrounded by love for love she chose to share with our little Chloe.

Nov 21, 2008

The Miracle of Jie Jie

I wanted to share a story today that is truly God's doing. The picture you see above is of Chloe and another little girl at the orphanage. Chloe has grieved and called for her Jie Jie when she is upset and in her sleep since the first days she was with us. We asked the orphanage director the next day if there was someone specific Chloe could be calling for and she just said that they call all the older girls Jie Jie (big sister) that play with the babies. Much to our surprise, when we got the pictures developed from the camera we sent to the orphanage, there were multiple pictures of this little girl with Chloe. She was hugging her, kissing her, and just loving on her. Chloe has been very affectionate with us from the very beginning and we have credited this little girl with showing Chloe love and teaching her how to bond. Unfortunately, we didn't have any way to get information about her. I often wondered if she was still at the orphanage.

Now fast forward about 6 months. I am part of an Internet group for parents who have adopted from Chloe's orphanage. It's a great way to learn more about the orphanage and understand our girls better. There was a family who have adopted from there and live in Beijing. They were planning a trip with their girls back to the orphanage. I emailed them to see if they could take the picture along of Chloe's Jie Jie along to get some more information. When they showed the photo to the nannies, they said that both girls were quite attached to each other. Her name is Qian Jiang Can and she had just been adopted to the United States in Sept. When I saw the name of the little girl, I could hardly believe it. I have been corresponding by email with a family from Michigan who adopted a 2 year old from Chloe's orphanage. We have emailed back and forth answering questions, etc. for months and I even spend an hour talking to them on Skype (Internet phone) the week before they left for Chongqing. Chloe's Jie Jie that she has grieved for is their daughter! Not only was this little girl that was so special to Chloe no longer at the orphanage, she had been adopted to a family that we knew. They only live 6 hours from us. Her name is Jazmyne. Her mom showed Jazmyne Chloe's pictures on our blog and she called her by her Chinese name and said Mei Mei (little sister). God has seen fit and cared enough to place these two little girls who have shared so much in homes just a few hours apart. We will be getting these two "sisters" together on Thanksgiving weekend.

Recent photos of Jazmyne.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine..." Eph. 3:20

Nov 14, 2008

Then There Was "I Love You"

This week Chloe began to say her own little version of "I love you." She'll say it and then give a hug to go with it. Today, Greg came across the first pictures that we got of Chloe in March of this year. It was a stunning reminder of just how far she has come. When I'm in the daily grind and working through medicine and sleep troubles and seperation anxiety, it's hard to remember where Chloe started. The changes to those of us who spend every day with her are not obvious, but today was a good day to look back. I was taken aback by the sadness and blankness of her eyes in those first pictures. It was obvious that she wasn't able to hold herself up and had to be propped in the walker picture. There were other little details that I noticed for the first time. I can see was fear in her eyes, just like the fear that was there today when someone was being friendly at the store and got a little too close. She wasn't able to support any weight on her legs in the walker. Chloe's hands were clenched in a fist because she didn't know how to play with a toy. Her clothe diaper was tied onto her with a cord around her waist. Now when I look into Chloe's eyes, I see a little girl who is loved and secure - secure enough to run the other way when I ask her to come (giggling all the way) and secure enough to say 'I love you' back. I thought it would be good to share those first pictures with you again today. Can you see how far we've come? Thank you Lord for the gentle reminder that our work is not in vain and that change has come.

Nov 2, 2008

Chloe's Positive TB Test

Chloe tested positive to her TB (tuberculosis) skin test last week. She had a clear chest x-ray, which means that she has inactive TB. She was exposed to it shortly before we got her and that's why it did not show up in the first test when we got home. She's not in any danger at this point or contagious to anyone, but her body is carrying the bacteria so she needs to be treated. If her immune system would be severly compromised, then she could be at risk for the TB to become active. Chloe has to be on medication for 9 months, but the success rate for protecting her from active TB for her lifetime is nearly 100%.

The liquid version of the medication has really done a number on Chloe's digestion this week, so we're starting on a pill tomorrow that is supposed to have fewer stomach issues. Please just pray for Chloe's adjustment and that she'll get through without side effects.

It was pretty sobering to realize that being here in the States and getting her TB treated could have saved her life. Who knows what would have happened had she gotten really ill while still in China and wound up with active tuberculosis. I'm looking forward to explaining to Chloe some day just how much her Heavenly Father loves her and has taken care of her.
In the meantime, Chloe is growing and growing up like crazy. We've been home for 6 months and Chloe just turned 15 months old. She is practically running and has become very comfortable at home. She runs around the house like she owns it, getting into every drawer and cabinet available. We've moved our living room furniture around to give her more room to roam. She still loves to eat peas and bologna, but she also loves apples and bagels and just about anything someone else is eating. Of course, she thinks she needs a bite of everything. Chloe is quite a character. She's learned to point her finger, so now she can communicate what she wants and when she's having trouble. Chloe's also learned how to tickle us and loves to make us laugh. It's really fun to watch her personality emerge.

Chloe with her buddy Brandi - She's hasn't met an animal she doesn't like.

Oct 27, 2008

Some Pictures of Chloe to Share

Just had to share a few special pictures. Thank you Laura for capturing the personality of our wiggly little girl.

Oct 3, 2008

Do you see slanted eyes?

I just had to begin this post with a comment Chloe's big sister made the other day. She said, "Mom, Chloe doesn't look very Chinese. Her eyes aren't as slanted as most Chinese girls." We just smiled and said, "I'm so glad that all you see is your little sister." A side benefit of international adoption - color blindness :)

Chloe's favorite foods right now are grapes, peas, and fruit loops. She's still quite an eater and growing like crazy. She's up to almost 21lbs. (10% in weight and 50% in height) I guess we'll let her just keep eating and eating.We went back to Oak Adoptive Health yesterday for a 6 month follow-up. Chloe has caught up developmentally and is doing really well. She seems to still have a lot of anxiety, probably her natural bent, but that will just take time to settle out. Everything looks really good. She had the standard retesting for HIV, Hepatitis, and Tuberculosis. They also rechecked her kidney function with the Chinese formula scare. We're so grateful to have connected with Oak Adoption Clinic at Akron Children's Hospital. They have been so helpful.

With all 3 older girls playing soccer, we've spent many evenings just like this, on a blanket playing with grass and clapping of the girls.

Sep 25, 2008

Chloe's Walking!

It's been an eventful couple of weeks! Chloe is officially walking! She has been close for a few weeks, but as of Sat. she is on the go. She can stand up without hanging onto anything and then takes about 5 steps. Now that she realizes she can do it, she's doing lots of practicing. Hurricane Ike reeked havoc in Ohio last week. We didn't get the rain here, but there were wind gusts up to 91mph recorded in our county. It blew for about 9 hours and a 20ft. tree branch nearly took out our front window. We were very fortunate to only lose our front gutters. Since we live in the woods, it was pretty intense. There was a lot of clean-up the next day and we didn't have electricity for almost 3 days. This was the view out our front window after the branch came down. We were sitting right there when in came crashing down. Needless to say, we moved away from the windows for the night.
Dad had an auction last week. There were a lot of extras to sell from combining two households since the wedding. We'll be renting the house, so that prep is next on the agenda.
Chloe continues to learn all kinds of new things. Her physical therapist was very surprised by the progress she'd made in just a few short weeks. She's constantly coming out with new words.
We were notified that Chloe may have been exposed to the tainted baby formula that's been happening in China. She was not drinking the contaminated brand when we got her, but we don't know what she may have had prior to our arrival. Long term exposure to the toxin can cause kidney failure and lots of babies in China have been affected. We had tested Chloe's kidney function when we first got home and everything looked good, so we're thankful that it doesn't appear to be an issue.
Chloe is still having difficulty sleeping and has been sleeping with either Greg or I for the past several weeks. This nighttime security has seemed to help her be more settled and happy during the day. When she stays with a babysitter, she seems to be insecure for a few days afterward, so we just need to be patient and wait for her timing. We don't know what all Chloe went through before we arrived, so all we can do is follow her lead and patiently wait until she is emotionally ready to move forward.

Aug 26, 2008

Where Did She Go Now?

This week's theme is where might Chloe be now? She has gotten to be quite adventurous at home with her speed crawling. The other day I was making one of the girl's beds and looked around to find her - she was no where to be found. I found her under the bed. She had ducked her head and crawled right underneath.Sunday afternoon the girls were playing on the Slip n Slide to beat the heat. Chloe and I were watching them, but she promptly decided she was not going to stay on the sidelines anymore, crawled right over to it, and took a drink. Chloe has discovered how to let her buddy, Nilla, the dog out of her cage and she does it regularly.

The girls were playing with their play grocery cart and Chloe thought the ride was great fun.

I think Chloe got to eat more cake than Daddy.

Aug 20, 2008

Back to the School Routine

Today was the first day of school for our older girls. Things can get a little chaotic trying to make the bus, especially when Chloe gets up at 6:30am. Hopefully that won't be happening regularly. I can't get over the change in Chloe just since the girls were in school in the Spring. I always had to wake Chloe up, give her a bottle, and head for the bus with her wrapped in a blanket. Now she's a active 1 year old with a mind of her own. Things can change so quickly.

Everyone had fun on a wagon ride at Grandma's on Saturday.

Chloe absolutely loved our trip to the water park yesterday. There was a gradual slope into the water, so she had a blast crawling around in a couple inches of water, playing in the fountains, and drinking her fair share.
Please keep us in your prayers. Chloe is having a very difficult time sleeping right now. There have been more than 1 night that I've seen every hour on the clock. Sometimes she's awake for more than an hour at a time. She is exhausted and so are we. We don't really know why she is so restless or what is bothering her at night. Teeth are an issue, but medicine doesn't seem to make any difference. We miss our happy, smiling baby and we'd like to have her back again.