Eight months ago we shared a storyabout a family reuniting with their host kiddo to bring her home forever. It was a reunion that they had been anxiously awaiting from the moment they had to say their goodbyes at the end of the hosting program. Although the family was certainly sad to see their daughter, “L,” return to China after the hosting program, they knew that they would be seeing her again soon as they had already begun submitting their paperwork to adopt her.
Throughout the month that L spent in the United States with the hosting program, she was able to see life outside of her orphanage and experience the love of a family. These experiences ultimately helped to ease their transition transition upon returning home as a family of three. Now, eight months later, L is thriving in her new family! Read our blog below to learn more about L’s transition and the many firsts she’s experienced in the eight months that she’s been home.
L loves to drive by and point to the EIU castle. She begged and pleaded to go there and finally got her chance during EIU’s Homecoming. She got to meet Billy the Panther and go to her first parade. We visited Tent City and she cheered on the Panthers at her first football game.
We had a special afternoon with Papa Swing and Grandma Barb at Aikman’s Wildlife Adventure in Arcola. The highlight was the Wagon Tour where we got up close and personal with the animals and even got to feed them. The zoo is going to seem boring after this special trip.
This was her first Halloween and she enjoyed carving her first pumpkin. Mommy also visited her school for her classroom Halloween party.
By this time, we have gotten our rhythm and routine down. L is loving going to school and making new friends. We enjoyed a visit from special friends and L loved all the extra attention. It’s always so great to catch up with good friends!
We visited Santa Claus at the Festival of Trees and enjoyed face painting with Kinsley and Charlie. We also had a great Thanksgiving with family and friends.
L started the month with the Trojet Dance Clinic. She loves to cheer and dance so it was no surprise that she loved it. Even now months later, she randomly starts doing dance moves from the routine she learned.
L had been asking to go on a train ride so we obliged by having lunch with Santa on the Polar Express in Monticello. She asked Santa for a dress because what girl doesn’t want a dress?! It was a snowy afternoon and really set the mood for the trip. She was just excited because she got to eat chips in her sack lunch.L was the star of the Broadway Christian Church Christmas Program. She sang her heart out and was very enthusiastic about her performance. She kept up with the hand motions and was also one of the loudest. Unfortunately, she didn’t know most of the words even after weeks of practicing. She could sing Jesus very clearly, but that was about it. Everyone still seemed to enjoy watching it.Santa Claus found our house for Christmas. She was very excited about him going up and down our chimney. He left L a new bicycle. She was awfully concerned because her bike was too big and she needed a little bike like her best friend’s. A great ending to our 2016 and fun to see how much she has changed in one year.
We started the year by taking L to her first movie at the theater. She did really well.
Due to the unseasonably warm temperatures, we were able to visit the St. Louis Zoo in January. She loved visiting all the animals and can’t wait to plan another visit.
L celebrated the 100th day of school and enjoyed dressing up as a “grandma” with all her classmates.
This was our first year celebrating the Chinese New Year. The holiday fell on Saturday, January 28th. This was the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar. CNY 2017 was the year of the Rooster. We celebrated by making decorations and re-decorating our Christmas Tree, enjoying traditional Chinese food from the Asian market, and reading a few books about the holiday. We also went to a special event at the Urbana Free Library.We ended the month with L’s 10th birthday party. We enjoyed a small party with close family at home. She enjoyed the special cake [Peppa Pig] that Grandma Barb made for her, unwrapping gifts, and having everyone sing to her. This girl isn’t shy about being the center of attention.
L and Baba enjoyed their first daddy-daughter dance at Broadway Christian Church. They were a beautiful couple and had a great evening. L’s favorite part was going out to eat for “china food” beforehand.
L loves all things dancing, cheerleading, and gymnastics. So when we have events that she can participate in, we try to take full advantage. She is so limber and flexible, we have no doubt that with practice, she will probably excel. This month she did an EIU cheer clinic and did a beginner gymnastics class through the Recreation Department.
As the weather has warmed up, we have spent more and more time outside. She loves to play bubbles and use sidewalk chalk. She is working on riding her bicycle but after a couple of falls, she is understandably apprehensive. She has gotten so much stronger! We did a fun science experiment where we inflated a balloon by the reaction of vinegar and baking soda. She has also learned how to play baseball with a wiffle ball and bat. Her hand-eye coordination has improved so much she learned immediately and gets tons of hits.
We had special visitors came over to play. She was excited about eating pizza, doing puzzles, playing Barbies, and playing Go Fish. We were so amazed at how far she has come in interacting with other kids, playing, and communicating. It was an eye-opener for us. Especially since it had been several months since she had seen them.
We celebrated our first Easter. She talked about wearing her special dress to church for weeks. She enjoyed coloring Easter eggs and seeing which colors could be combined to make new colors. The Easter Bunny found our house and left her a basket with some special treats. Since she does not like sweets at all, the eggs that she found contained coins and she was very excited about taking them to the bank. We compromised and she added them to her bank at home.
She also got to attend a birthday party for one of her classmates. It was held at the Flip Zone. She was very uneasy around the trampoline, but by the end, she loved it. She practiced walking on the balance beam and can’t wait to go back. She has made some great friends in her class and it was fun to watch them play together.
Overall, it is amazing to see how far L has come. She has lost three baby teeth and has new permanent teeth coming in. She has gained some weight and is now up to 38 pounds. She has grown in height, advanced a shoe size, and started to gain muscle strength and fill out. Her hair is growing and thickening up. She begs to have long hair. She loves to put together puzzles, build with Legos, and play Barbies. Food is still her love language. She out eats us most days. She is always open to trying new foods and is such a good eater. She loves to snuggle with Mommy and Baba. She is absolutely in love with her “sister” Bessie. Bessie is our dog and if you remember when she visited last winter, she was absolutely terrified of the dog and screamed bloody murder. If you have had a recent conversation with her, she probably asked you if you had a dog, what its name is, if it is big or little, and whether it is inside or outside. If you asked her dog’s name, you likely got the response “B-E-S-S-I-E.” She really likes to spell the words that she knows. She is doing great in school and above average in her recognition/reading of sight words. It makes my heart-swell to hear her read the leveled readers that she brings home. This girl loves math. Her vocabulary improves everyday and her spoken English continues to get stronger. Her handwriting is beautiful and she concentrates so hard to make every letter or number “pretty.” Astounding progress for a girl who had never been to school, had never used a pencil, put together a puzzle, and whose coloring consisted of scribbling. She loves to sing along to the radio. One of her favorites is Hillary Scott’s “Thy Will Be Done.” She loves to belt out songs in the car and exclaims, “I know this song.” Still working on the concept that songs are made up of words:) This girls loves to sleep. Every Friday night she says “sleep long time” aka let me sleep in.
I’m not sure how we got so lucky for God to choose us to be her parents, but our lives are blessed by her presence every minute of every day. She fills our lives with joy with her smile, orneriness, and sassy personality.