Aug 25, 2009

Travel Group Reunion

With everything else that has been going on, I haven't taken the time to post pictures from the July Travel Group Reunion that we hosted in our area. Chloe, Heather, and Alexandria are all from Chongqing and were adopted together.
We spent Friday evening getting reacquainted around the camp fire.

Chloe and Heather became fast friends as her family camped in our woods.

Saturday morning we all took a wagon ride at an exotic animal farm.

The kids all loved seeing and feeding the animals right from the horse drawn wagon.

Chloe even got to feed some giraffes with a little help from Daddy.

We all enjoyed a good Amish cooked meal for lunch.

After naps, we all had pizza and cake at our house to wrap up the day.
It was so great to spend time with others who have shared in this amazing journey with us. It seemed as though we were able to pick up right where we left off even though it had been 15 months since we'd been together. There was a special comfort level between the little girls that was noticeable and it only cemented our determination to keep them in touch.

Aug 7, 2009

Attachment Therapy

     I am sitting down tonight feeling totally inadequate to try and explain all that has happened this week, but first a little statistic: 2/3 of the 6,000,000 adopted kids in the United States have moderate to sever attachment issues, many of which go unrecognized. This is a staggering number of children and families dealing with significant emotional issues and almost no one to help.
    We have been going through 3 hours of therapy a day with an attachment specialist for the last 5 days. Much of that time consisted of what you see above. However, it has taken most of the week for Chloe to willingly give me eye contact even for a few seconds at a time. This position to her is threatening and intimate. It brings back feelings and emotions that are hard to deal with. We've been working to help Chloe cope with her abandonment and life story. Her birth mom abandoned her at 2 days of age, after which she was taken to a police station and then to an orphanage where for 240 days she spent approx. 20 out of 24 hours each day staring at the ceiling from her crib. She was often hungry and no one responded when she cried, so eventually she just stopped crying for her needs. Because of a lack of sensory stimulation, she would hit herself on the head and suck on her hand to go to sleep. When we were found as her family, she road 6 hours in a van for the first time with people she didn't know. She was not fed and then suddenly she was handed to 2 people who looked different, smelled different, and sounded different. Within 2 weeks she was flown to a new country away from anything or anyone she had ever known. Not exactly a fairytale story. It's understandable why Chloe is traumatized by her past.
    I wanted to take a moment to try explain about 2 different kinds of memories our brain makes. One type of memory is called explicit, which is the type of memories you can recall. The first day of school, would be a good example. The brain also stores implicit memories which are emotional responses and feelings that happen subconsciously. These implicit memories are being recorded in the brain even before babies are born and these are the type of memories that Chloe is struggling with. As a newborn, when your parent speaks to you, it causes your brain to process these implicit emotions/feelings and release them. In Chloe's situation, there was no one directly speaking to her that allowed all the emotions she was dealing with to be released. So now, by talking through what Chloe must have been feeling during her first traumatic 8 months brings those feelings back out and eventually her brain can then let go of them. The goal is for Chloe to have less and less reaction each time the therapist talks through her story. It was absolutely heart breaking this week to watch Chloe's eyes fill with tears and her lip quiver when she was told that her China mom was not coming back to get her. She so clearly understood that it was astounding.
    There are so many more details I could share and if you have specific questions, feel free to email me or post a comment and I'll get back with you. We are working on eye contact with Chloe for 20min. twice a day, in addition to encouraging her to talk. She is capable of saying a lot of words, but resists, choosing to point and grunt. That will be coming to end. Also, we are working on her aggression towards her sisters. The therapist said the next 2 weeks or so Chloe will be a real bear once she realized this was not just a temporary change. We go back to therapy every 2 weeks where we'll continue to desensitize Chloe to her life story, in turn allowing her to embrace her new life with our family.
    I feel like I need to include a few resources today for you adoptive parents. Our therapist, Arleta James, has written an amazing book about integrating an adoptive child into an existing family. I think every adoptive family needs this book! It is full of really practical information.
You can purchase the book at: or on

Arleta also writes a biweekly adoption blog that has lots of great tools in it. You can find the blog at:

    Lastly, I'd like to include a resource for you parents who are wondering if your child has attachment issues. It is part of the application process for ABC of Ohio to determine attachment issues. Children under 5:   Children over 5:   If you have any questions or concerns, please contact ABC of Ohio. They treat more internationally adopted kids with attachment issues than any other clinic in the country.
Thank you for your prayers this week, they have truly been a blessing.

Aug 2, 2009

Therapy Week

This is the week we are scheduled to begin intensive attachment and bonding therapy with Chloe. We have been anticipating it for a long time and yet we go into this week with a little apprehension as well. Change is always hard, even when it's for the better. If you change your eating habits to eat healthier, it's good for you, but the process is challenging. So I think this process will be for Chloe and all of us. Even though there are challenges about where she is right now, we all have adapted to it and it's become somewhat "normal."

Tonight I am reminding myself to keep my eye on the prize and see the bigger picture. To have a little girl who can look me in the eye and return the love we've been pouring into her will be truly amazing, no matter what the journey may need to be to get there. To heal the wounds and baggage left from her abandonment and orphanage experience will allow Chloe to have healthy relationships others and most importantly, the ability to put her trust in her Savior Jesus Christ.

Please keep our family in your prayers this week. Therapy is from 10am-1pm each day. I'll update again soon and let you know how it's going.