If you’re trying to talk about adoption with your kid through a translator, be aware that the word adopt does NOT ever come through correctly on Google Translate. It ALWAYS comes through with words that mean “to adopt a course of action” or something like that. The word that means “to adopt a child” is pronounced show-yang, and it’s written 收養.

Google Translate doesn’t even have a definition for it.

The fun of this is that I knew I’d told our teen that our other two daughters are adopted, but of course didn’t know that the translator wasn’t delivering my meaning. So after looking through family photo albums last night, she asked to see pictures of my pregnancy with the girls. We worked back and forth until I finally got the correct Mandarin for “adopted,” and the look on her face when she realized what I was saying was AWESOME! She was thrilled to realize that her sisters were adopted too!

My favorite part was, after all kinds of questions like what their original names were and why we chose to adopt, etc, she asked me what part of China they were adopted from.

My other daughters are both white, and one even has blonde hair and blue eyes.


I can’t stop grinning like an idiot.

She just kissed me on the cheek. A genuine, impetuous, I-can’t-hold-this-inside-any-longer-or-I’ll-BURST show of affection. A first.

For the curious, we’re at 3 months and 1 week since we met. For the last six weeks, she’s been very affectionate with her Daddy. He’s gotten tons of spontaneous hugs, I love you’s, kisses on the cheek, hand-holding and general snuggliness. Truth be told, she’s been very needy with her affection and it’s been very wearing on him. Normal, but wearing. Since we got home she’s treated me like a mom, but not like someone she really just *enjoys* being with. She has come to me with her needs, she is playful with me, we have had a good relationship, but I felt like she was going deeper with my husband and not with me. Sometimes I’ve been bothered by it, even though I know it’s normal, and I’ve been interested to examine my own feelings in that. I can think of a dozen good reasons why it might be so, and I’ve rejoiced that she feels safe enough to desire closeness with one of us at least.

This morning I had to correct her on something, and for the first time I felt like I actually had enough of a relationship with her to draw against in the correction. I’m not sure that is clear. I have corrected her before, but it’s always felt like a careful dance, like trying to tell a person you really like that they have food in their teeth… on your first date. Today I was still very gentle and encouraging in my correction, but I didn’t feel the worry that says in the back of my head, “Gee, I hope this doesn’t set us back much in attachment.” I knew she knew I loved her, and I knew she loved me enough that she wouldn’t hold it against me. It was a good feeling, knowing that our relationship has reached a point that it is elastic enough to tolerate a little bit of push-pull. Progress. Attachment. Thank you, God.

Misplaced confidence

When we talked with our homestudy worker and our placing agency about why we thought we were good candidates for adopting a teenager, we confidently gave a list of reasons why the “rules” didn’t apply to us. We understood why the rules were in place, and sure, we think that most families who have only younger children probably shouldn’t adopt teens, but WE were different, we should be allowed to break those rules. (Rolling my eyes here.) Now that we have our teen, I’m starting to see where our thinking was right and where it was… a bit off.

On the one hand, when our kids were younger my dad lived with us for two years Continue reading


Xia actually hugged Lu before bed last night. They’ve had a rocky relationship from the beginning because of their similar firey personalities and because they’re both trying to be the biggest sister. (We saw this coming a thousand miles off, by the way, knew it even before we committed to adopt Xia.) Even when they’re not getting along, Lu tries very hard to make overtures of friendliness, and has offered hugs before but been shunned. Xia has not yet learned the family rhythm of conflict-resolve-forgive-reconcile, and she is quick to hold grudges. She told us in China that she never had to tell anyone sorry before. Fortunately, Lu is a very forgiving person and can be very empathetic when she’s not angry, so she has been trying to not take the grudge personally and has demonstrated some surprising patience and maturity with her new sister’s “grumpiness,” as she calls it.

Home three months and that hug was the first.

Thank you, God!!!


Joey was born with a complex heart condition called Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA). He was also born with an Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) and a Ventral Septal Defect (VSD), which is the only reason he could live, because it allowed some oxygenated blood to get through to his little body.
For the first year of his life, the nannies in his orphanage kept him still as much as possible. When the other babies were learning to roll over and sit up and grab toys, Joey wasn’t, because his file says that even laying him on his tummy caused him to turn blue because that activity was too hard on his heart.
Sometime when Joey was a year old, Love Without Boundaries paid for him to have a procedure done on his heart that would improve his oxygenation. Right before he had the procedure, he went into heart failure. After the procedure, he was not doing well and because they thought he wouldn’t make it, they sent him to a hospice for babies called China Little Flower (CLF). For a couple months, he still didn’t do well.
The director of CLF, Serena, said when he arrived, he couldn’t hold his head up, or sit, or anything. But THEN, she says, “he suddenly started to catch up and made incredible progress. He went from holding up his head, to sitting, and then to walking and climbing – it was pretty amazing! As we watched him progress, we contacted his orphanage to ask if they’d consider submitting his file for adoption. They did agree, and by fall of 2009 he was doing so well that he returned to his orphanage to wait for a family. I am very surprised he is still waiting for a family!”
Joey stayed at the orphanage for two years and was moved into a foster family about a year ago, and he’s now attending the local kindergarten. I’m currently waiting on a new update on him.
I have collected this information from various people who were involved in his care over the years. I talked to Love Without Boundaries about him in Jan 2012, and they agreed to get a new echo done of his heart. The results revealed:
ECG: sinus arrythmia, AVB right ventricular enlargement with myocardial strain RAE LAE
Chest X-ray: pulmonary pleonemia, enlarged heart shadow. UCG: D-TGA PS VSD ASD (Secundum) PDA after Glenn. Normal recovery after Glenn, next step requires the Fontan
This echo was reviewed by a pediatric cardiologist at Texas Children’s Hospital, and he said that it looks like Joey needs the Fontan procedure done, and that should be pretty much it for his heart.
The reason Joey has been waiting all this time, though, is because – like all kids born with complex heart conditions – his severely restricted movement before his surgery left him delayed. Serena recounted that he caught up on his first year milestones in rapid succession, but his orphanage prepared his file while he was still catching up, so they noted his delays in his adoption file.
Unfortunately, the details were poorly translated into English, so instead of “delayed,” he was labeled “mentally retarded.” This carries a *very* different connotation here in the US than it does in China. Here we interpret that to mean permanent cognitive deficits, rather than being behind on development with the capability to catch up, and THIS is why he has been waiting so very long for a family.
Joey_Jan2012_croppedHis last update update was from December 2011:
He is now attending a kindergarten in the neighborhood of the foster family. He is very polite. Every morning when he meets the teacher in the kindergarten, he will greet the teachers by saying “Zao Shang Hao (good morning)” or “Lao Shi Hao (hi teachers).” After school, when he is in a good mood, he will retell the activites in the kindergarten to the foster family. He also sometimes says to himself what the teacher told them to do as if he were the teacher. When his foster mom asks him to count numbers, he can count while pointing to his fingers. He is very polite and sweet. When he wants to have a share of others’ snacks, he knows to say very nice words. He is so affectionate and attractive that everyone close to him loves him. He is introverted and quite generally. He doesn’t seem to have a strong desire to display himself. He is a bit slow in movement, and may be slightly delayed in mental development. He cannot participate in very energetic activities due to his heart defect.
They did an IQ test on him at age 2.5 years old. Remember he was prevented from doing *anything* for the first year of his life, and then he had several months to recover from his operation, and *then* he started catching up. So in reality, at 2.5 years old, he’s only been up and moving and learning for about a year. Of course he wouldn’t have caught up to age level in just one year!


Saturday night we had a whopper of a thunderstorm. I’d been feeling a bit discouraged that day, watching our teenager fawn over her Daddy, wondering if he was special because she’d never had a father figure, wondering if she just saw me as a another nice nanny in a long succession of female caregivers. But at 4am, when the lightning was flashing rapidly and the thunder shook the house, her feet pounded up the stairs to our bedroom and I sat up as she threw the door open – and she dove into my arms.