Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Ahh but my baby girl is now a young lady.  Heading into second grade in a few weeks with more smarts tan either one of us can handle sometimes.  Her 7th Gotcha Day is next week--yes, it was yesterday but a lifetime ago when she became my daughter.   She loves to move and takes gymnastics classes.  She also takes Chinese dance and language and plans to start martial arts in the fall.  Being 7 means learning new social skills, going off on your own to many more places, doing sleepovers, and trading in dress-up for makeovers already!!  It also means a whole new level of awareness of the circumstances of us becoming a family and questions about all involved.  Once again so grateful to all who support us!!

Friday, August 15, 2014

To Charis's birthmother-
I'm thinking of you today as I often do on the eve of big moments in Charis's life.  She starts to kindergarten in three days.  It will the the first day of many, many years of schooling.  Before I brought her home I promised the government of your country I would see that she had a good education and so we begin.  My parents valued education so much and I value it too.  I pray it will help give her options and open doors and will help her use the gifts God has given her.  I wish you could know how smart she is already and how anxious she is to learn everything she can!  I wonder if she got her bend toward perfectionism from you-I don't think it comes from me:). I know there will be some difficult days as we both learn how to function in the school system-there already have been a couple of bumps.  But we will both be fine-I plan to volunteer in her classroom so I can have a better sense of this new world she is in.  As always, I am eternally grateful for the privilege of being the mother of this smart, funny, loving compassionate child.  I pray somehow you know we have a wonderful life together.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Five years ago today we boarded the plane for China.  It seems like yesterday, it seems like it has been forever.  It's good that I didn't know what difficult days were in store for me in China, but I also could never have anticipated the joy and love my beautiful daughter have brought to my life.  Thank you to the One who made us a family and continues to bless us with His love.  I reminded her last night that she was truly a princess - that she was the daughter of the King of Kings.  I pray that fact always brings the joy to her eyes that I saw last night!!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Already I am saying "Where have the years gone??"  My little girl has finished preschool and is preparing to enter kindergarten.  She is no longer a toddler - she is a bike riding beginning reader who thinks so deeply is quite frankly scares me sometimes!  When I was recently lamenting her growing up she said to me "But mommy, if I never grow up, I'll never have babies and you'll never get to be a grandma.  Wouldn't that make you sad??"


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tonight I looked into the eyes of a 2 year old who recently came into foster care with a friend of mine.  What I saw was hauntingly familiar- not that I can honestly say I remember when Charis had that look in her eyes but I see it every time I look at pictures of our first days together.  It's a look of terror, bewilderment and a little relief all mixed together.  I wanted to take this little one in my arms and tell her it's alright-she's safe now and my friend will take good care of her.  And she will, but how long until this little ones life gets turned upside down again?  Lord, I'm coming to you tonight asking you to be with this little one, and all the other little ones in the world who wonder who will love them, who will care for them, who will feed them.  Let them feel Your love and Your presence and Lord show us how to be you hands for those in need.  Please bless those who care for orphans, children in foster care and other caretakers.  And Lord please give a special blessing to all those waiting for forever families.

Friday, January 3, 2014

I just came across this excerpt from “Instant Mom” by Nia Vardalos and it took me back to when I met my daughter four and a half years ago – almost eerie how similar it was! 

“we can see a little brown-haired girl is in a social worker's (for me, a nanny) arms. And as we walk toward the group, the little girl turns and looks at me.
At me. …….. Everything goes quiet. I hear nothing at all. All I think is, "Oh, I found you."
Because now I know who I have been waiting for. I know exactly why the other processes didn't work. I know I was supposed to wait for this little girl……As I cradle her, I can't hear anything. I am looking at my daughter. Finally. And I feel a peacefulness come over me like I have never known. I waited a long time for her and she is worth every minute of anxiety. I am holding my little girl and just inhaling her scent. She is apprehensive, not sure what's happening today, and she clings to me and hides in my neck. I kiss her and whisper in her ear that everything will be OK. I tell her I love her.” –

Monday, July 22, 2013

Four years ago this evening I was frantically trying to prepare for my daughter to arrive.  I had just learned a couple of hours earlier that while I had been preparing for years to bring home a toddler, I would in fact, be bringing home a baby - a 5 1/2 month old little peanut who barely weighed 12 pounds and would in no way fit any of the clothes, diapers or sleepers I had brought with me.  So off I go with my sister and one of the other dads (a second timer who was much cooler headed than the rest of us!) to seek out a Wal-Mart (yes, they have Wal-Marts in China) to buy diapers and anything else I could find to fit this tiny little girl who was to be my daughter.  There was a long involved back and forth with the saleslady in the diaper department - we did not speak the same language so it was more like charades - and she finally got me to understand that the smaller bags of Pampers were a better deal because they were on special:)  And if there were any infant clothes that didn't involve split pants, I couldn't find them so we came home with very little other than diapers. Then came the long peaceful but rather sleepless night waiting for the 8:00 am meeting at the office of Civil Affairs. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

To say that I haven't kept up with this blog is a major understatement.  Charis is 4 now - where have the last 3 1/2 years gone???  We had a ladybug themed birthday party and her best friends, Anna, Sasha, Jude, Gianna and Addison, all came to play.  Of course, no matter what the theme it seems like when preschool girls get together it always turns into a princess party:)

Since last fall she has gone to Gahanna Early Experience Center for preschool two mornings a week.  She lovers her school and it's giving her good "group" experience.  Here she is with her preschool teachers, Mrs. Strapp and Mrs. Fortney picking apples at Lynd's Fruit Farm last fall. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Charis's first recital

Charis had her first recital last week - her Chinese culture class "Rock My Bao Bao" had an end of the year performance along with all the other Chinese culture classes.  Her class, which consists of kids 3 and under, virtually all of whom were adopted from China, sang three songs in Chinese.  It was cute, but I'm not sure how much actual singing took place from Charis and her classmates.  Mommy had to go on stage with Charis and hold her for much of the performance.  The funny part was that when the clapping started, she wanted down to go stand with her buddies:) 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Grace, charity, beauty, charm and inspiration

Just found this description of Charis's name:)

Charis \ch(a)-ris\ as a girl's name is pronounced KARE-iss. It is of Greek origin, and the meaning of Charis is "grace". From "kharis". The form Charissa was first used by Spenser for a character in his poem "The Faerie Queene" (16th century). Charis was first used as a given name in the 17th century, probably to symbolize the Christian concept of charity. Mythology: a reference to the Three Graces (Greek "kharites"), symbols of womanly beauty, charm, and inspiration. The graces were Aglais (brilliance), Thalia (flowering), and Euphrosyne (joy).

Thursday, April 28, 2011

More Chinese friends on the way

I wait patiently with my friend Molly for her to bring home her daughter from China.  She is at the point of just over 30 "log-in dates" from her date - that could mean a referral this summer or it could mean many months - just no way to know.  She's been waiting for nearly 5 years so keep her in your prayers!  On a happier note, I just found out that a family from church is in the process of adopting a boy from China.  They don't have a referral yet but since they are willing to accept an older child and a boy, they may get a referral fairly quickly.  I'm just always so excited to hear of families opening their home to orphans - know what an amazing blessing it is for both the parents and the child, I want everyone to know the joy I have experienced!!  I recently saw a video from Love Without Boundries on adopting boys - hmmm, maybe Charis needs a brother??

Mr. Moon

Charis loves the moon and since we've had practically non-stop rain for a couple of weeks, he's been hiding behing the clouds for a while.  Tonight on the way home from Bible class Charis asked where the moon was.  When I told her it must be hiding behind the clouds again, she said "Mr. Moon, Mr. Moon, won't you please come out?? It's me, Charis, in the car!"  What a sweetie!!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

No One Loves Me Like My Mom

I was blessed to be able to celebrate my Mother's 90th birthday with her this past week.  She's been such an wonderful mom and such a great example to me and to many others.  All I can think is that if everyone in the world had a mom like mine, the world would be a much better place.  Not only is she a wonderful mom, but even in her illness, she is a wonderful Grandma.  Charis calls her Mom-mom and absolutely adores her.  When we go for a visit, it's not unusual to find Charis in bed with Mom - cuddling, laughing and singing to her Grandma.  And if I make Charis do anything she doesn't want to do in front of my mom, Mom-mom trys to convince me to let Charis do whatever she wants:)  I love that they love each other so much!!!  And not only was it great to be with Mom, but all 5 of my sisters were able to be here for the celebration too.  Very rare that all six of us are together so the time was very special!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

To Charis’s birthmother

To Charis’s birth mother,

As Charis’s second birthday approaches, you are on my heart. I know you must be thinking of your daughter. You must wonder where she is and if she is loved and well cared for. I know you miss her. So I would like to thank you for being one of the most courageous women I have never met. You gave life to my child and a daughter to me.

Charis is stunningly beautiful and wildly intelligent. She got that from you.

Every since she became my daughter at five and a half months old, she has had an incredible personality. She’s very curious and on her first doctor visit the doctor even noticed how much she paid attention to detail. She loves her family and friends so much – she sometimes even cries when she doesn’t get to see them as much as she wants. She always wants me to read books to her and she has started pretending to read them to her dolls. She is very brave, sometimes I think too brave when she does dangerous things!  She loves to sing and loves for us to sing song together.  We go to a class for little ones where we sing songs in Chinese.  I want her to love the music from China as much as she does the music here.

No words can completely describe what you have done for me. I’ve always known that God had planned for me to be a mother, but I didn’t know he would use a woman from the other side of the world to give me a daughter. You could have made so many other choices, and you were probably encouraged by others to make those choices, but you loved her enough to carry her for nine months and to make sure she was well cared for after she was born.

I know it was the most difficult decision you have ever made. I have heard that other birth mothers say it is not a decision you make once, but one you have to make every day. Your gift has given me the opportunity to feel the same unconditional love you felt for your baby. I promise you that not only will she always be unconditionally loved by me, but she will also always know the unconditional love of a large family and many close friends. Charis knows how much I appreciate you; we talk about you and pray for you often.

I am so grateful to you for giving me the chance to be a mom. I cannot imagine a greater sacrifice to make or greater blessing to receive. May God bless you always for the selfless sacrifice you made.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Touching My Heart

My girl is on a mission to touch my heart these days I guess.  The other day she initiated her first "Charis-led" prayer.  After we said our typical good night prayer, she said "Charis pray" and proceeded to say "Dear God (several words I didn't understand) princess (more words) mommy (more words) All done!"  Then tonight as I was rocking her before bedtime and singing her the same song I have sung to her every night since she's been home (I love you, God loves you, and that's the way it's gonna be), I hear this little voice chiming in "I love you and God loves you....".  Well she didn't get all the words right but she got the tune and most of the words.  What a sweetie!!!  Guess all this sweetness is to make up for the roaring into the twos that she's doing:)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Winter 2010

November and December have been kind of wild months for us.  On Nov. 12th we flew to St. Pete Beach, FL to meet up with 2 of the other families in our China travel group.  We had a great long weekend at the beach with the Corless and Roebuck families.  We were really glad Jill went with us!  It was so great to see how well the girls were all doing - we laughed about how the girls are still so much like they were when we first met them.  Thea is still the leader of the pack, ready to boldly go anywhere and to oversee whatever activity may be happening; Emma is the artsy, sensitive girl who also has a wild side (she's the only one brave enough to actually sit in a pirates lap!) and Charis just loves to be with people and is pretty easy going as long as things go her way!  And they all three fit so perfectly in their own families!  What beautiful girls we are blessed with - or as my friend Jackie likes to say "we won the baby lottery!". 

After we left St. Pete Beach, Jill, Charis and I went on to St. Augustine to spend a week at Jill's in-laws Florida home.  We had a great time - Charis especially loved the turtles.  She had her first carousel ride and loved looking for shells at the beach.  But while we were there I had an incident with my eye which I later found out resulted in a detached retina.  The rest of November and most of December I ended up being off work and mostly bed ridden trying to recover from the detached retina.  Finally on Dec. 17th, I was allowed up out of bed and finally back to driving on Dec. 23rd.  Don't know what I would have done without my very supportive family - Jill and Jane and their families took care of both Charis and I for several weeks. But I'm back to work now and hopefully on the mend permanently.  Charis thought it was great fun to live with Aunt Jill and Aunt Jane for a while and I became a big fan of "House Hunters International".

Our second Christmas together was wonderful despite not being able to participate in very few pre-Christmas festivities or shopping.  We did get to have our annual get together with her friends Anna and Sasha.  Charis was a little leary of the Santa, but was very interested in the whole idea of reindeer.  She mostly just loved being with her family and of course loved the presents. 

As the beginning of the new year approaches my mind once again turns to Charis's birth mother.  Two years ago she was 8 months pregnant with my daughter.  I imagine she wonders about her and I hope she somehow knows that Charis is in a family who loves and cares for her very much. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ramblings On Adoption

"Adoption is a miracle. I don't mean just that it's amazing, terrific, and a wonderful thing to do. I mean that it is, as the dictionary says, "a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of divine agency."  From Scott Simon's "Baby We Were Meant For Each Other"  Just finished this book and am in the process of reading "Silent Tears" by Kay Bratt.  What two different perspectives on being the mother of this beautiful daughter.  Simon's book celebrates the wonder and joy of adopting a child; Bratt's is giving me a peek into what Charis's life might have been had she not become my daughter.  Both are helpful; both bring out incredibly strong emotions.  And I think of all the other adoptive families who are part of my life - when I started thinking of each of them I was amazed how many I know.  And I wonder so much about where Charis, Anna, Hannah S., Abby, Hannah H., Annie, Keziah, Issac, Justice, Chloe, Sydney, Allison, Olivia, Riley and all the other beautiful children I haven't named would be if they had not been adopted.  And of all their parents - and extended families and friends - who love them so desperately - how much we all would have missed out on if these children were not part of our lives.  And thinking of these children and their families, I wonder again - and count my blessings - about how it is that adoption came to be so commonplace in our culture.  Charis recently went to Bible class while visiting my sister in a small rural Appalachian town.  In her Bible class were two other adopted children - all three born on different continents and all three loved and cherished not only by their parents, but by large extended families.  And again a wonder to me - both of the other children are part of families I have known for many years if not all my life.  God is so good.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pictures from fall 2010

Legacy of an Adopted Child

Once there were two women who never knew each other.
One you do not remember, the other you call mother.
Two different lives, shaped to make your one...
One became your guiding star, the other became your sun.
The first gave you life and the second taught you to live it.
The first gave you a need for love, and the second was there to give it.
One gave you a nationality, the other gave you a name.
One gave you a seed of talent, the other gave you an aim.
One gave you emotions, the other calmed your fears.
One saw your first sweet smile, the other dried your tears.
One gave you up ... that's all she could do.
The other prayed for a child and God led her straight to you.
And now you ask me, through your fears,
the age old question unanswered throughout the years...
Heredity or environment, which are you the product of?
Neither, my darling, neither.
Just two different kinds of love.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

19 months old!

Charis is no longer a baby - she's a full fledged toddler these days.  Running, climbing, sliding, swinging - you name it!  And talking up a storm - I can't believe all the words she knows.  Tonight we read "I Love You Crazy Cakes" and at the end of the book where the mom and baby are snuggling with their eyes closed she said "sad!".  I tried to tell her they were not sad but sleepy but she kept insisting on sad!  It was the first time she really sat and listened to that book - makes me wonder if she has any memory of our Crazy Cakes story.  It really is hard to imagine my life without this perfect and wonderful little girl.  Not only does she light up my life, she brings so much joy to my Mom, my sisters and the rest of my family and friends.  What a blessing she is!!!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mother's Day

What can I say - after waiting all my life, I finally celebrated Mother's Day as a mother. What an amazing feeling to spend the day with my Mother, my daughter and the rest of my family.

Zoo picture

What can I say - my daughter is cool!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

All children come from God. For some the journey home just takes a little longer.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Charis and her Grandma

I just love that my two favorite people in all the world adore each other.  When we go to Mom's house, Charis runs through the house saying "ma-ma" (her word for Grandma).  And she loves to kiss on Mom and cuddle with her.  And Mom loves it too - Charis can get a smile out of her when no one else can. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spring is here!

Well, I've been told that the winter pictures no longer cut it and I need to post spring pictures so here they are!!!  Charis is 14 months old now and getting so grown up!  Yesterday as I was leaving her at day care she said "bye ma"!  My baby made a sentence!  We've enjoyed the zoo and park with our friends, had Easter with Aunt Jill, Alex, Dan and another friend and celebrated Sasha's 1st birtday with her.  We also spent some time at a friend's farm in Ross County taking pictures with her spring flowers.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Not a Snow Bunny!

We had a foot of snow over the weekend, so Mommy dressed Charis up in her snowsuit and thought we'd go make a snowman!  She didn't seem to mind be bundled up in the snowsuit or putting on her ladybug boots over the snowsuit.  And it was fine to have Mommy carry you around in the snow.  However, she did NOT want to be put down in the snow!  She was in the snow only long enough for Mommy to snap the picture and recovered almost immediately once Mommy picked her back up!

Charis's 1st Birthday!!!

Charis had two first birthday parties!!!  One at Grandma's and one with her friends.  Both were a blast!!!!

How Love Really Works

Our children are not ours because they share our genes...
they are ours because we have had the audacity to envision them.
That, at the end of the day...or long sleepless night, is how love really works.

--- Unknown

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Christmas Pictures

We had Miss Kathy take some photos of Charis for her first Christmas. Just now getting around to posting some!  I'm also including some candid shots from Christmas time.

A Year Ago

As the 6 month anniversary of our Gotcha Day and Charis's first birthday are quickly approaching, I have been thinking so much of Charis's birth mother. Wondering what she was thinking this time last year and wondering how she is feeling now; praying that she somehow might know how loved, safe and happy her little Yong Xiao Shun is now. I know Charis will surely wonder these things too some day. Please Lord, give the the wisdom and the words to say the right things to her when that time comes.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Merry Christmas

I am thanking God that my daughter is home for Christmas and thinking of all the little girls in China and all the mommys and daddys everywhere who don't yet have their daughters home with them.

Merry Christmas by Third Day

There's a little girl trembling on a cold December morn
Crying for momma's arms
At an orphanage just outside a little China town
There the forgotten are

But half a world away I hang the stockings by the fire
And dream about the day when I can finally call you mine

It's Christmas time again but you're not home
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone
And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in his arms
And tell you from my heart I wish you Merry Christmas

As I hang the tinsel on the tree and watch the twinkling lights
I'm warmed by the fire's glow
Outside the children tumble in a wonderland of white,
Make angels in the snow

But half a world away you try your best to fight the tears
And hope that heaven's angels come to carry you here

It's Christmas time again but you're not home
Your family is here and yet you're somewhere else alone
And so tonight I pray that God will come and hold you in his arms
And tell you from my heart I wish you Merry Christmas

Christmas is a time to celebrate the holy child
And we celebrate his perfect gift of love
He came to earth to give his life
And prepare a place for us
So we could have a home with him above

It's Christmas time again and now you're home
Your family is here so you will never be alone
So tonight before you go to sleep, I'll hold you in my arms
And I'll tell you from my heart, and I'll you from my heart
I wish you Merry Christmas

Friday, December 4, 2009

Today I Kissed an Angel

Today I kissed an angel, I knew it from the start
The first time my angel smiled at me, I gave away my heart
Today I kissed an angel, this angel child of mine
Though not of my creation, my child by God's design
Today I kissed an angel, my heart is dancing wild,
A family by a miracle, blessed by this angel child.
Author Unknown

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wonderful presents

We have had so many wonderful presents and words of love and support since we came home. Several folks have made handmade (and extra special) gifts for Charis - afgans and throws, quilts, personalized items and a sweater and matching hat! We know these were all made with love and we will cherish them for years to come!

Halloween Fun

We made another trip to Arkansas the weekend of Halloween for a reunion with Mommy's college friends from OEGE and King's Men. It was so good to see everyone - how amazing to see these folks that hadn't been together in 25+ years and were still so happy to spend time together.

The Halloween weekend brought lots of fun for Charis too. Since it was also her cousin Avery's 3rd birthday, we got to go to Avery's princess party. Avery got a "castle" as a present from her grandparents, so Avery and Charis had a lot of fun playing in the castle. They had face painting at the party so it was another first for Charis - a pumpkin on the cheek! And what fun is Halloween without dressing up? Of course, the hood part of the ladybug costume was NOT her favorite thing.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fall 2009

We've been enjoying the beginning of fall in Ohio, although it has come upon us quickly! We stopped by Pumpkinaloza at Lynd's Fruit Farm with our friends Jackie and Anna and hiked at Highbanks Metro Park with our friend Dan. We had a great time hiking for two hours but who knew it would be so exhausting??? Thanks Dan for carrying Charis while we hiked so we didn't have to stick to the stroller friendly paths! While we love the fall, it also means Lori will be returning to work soon. These weeks together have been so precious to us, but we knew it wouldn't last forever. We're looking forward to doing Boo at the Zoo with Anna, Sasha and Hannah in a couple of weeks!