I want to apologize for the belated update- so many of you have emailed or messaged us to check in and see how things are going, and we so appreciate that! I promise that we haven’t been ignoring you, it has just been a whirlwind week since we got home last Friday night.
First, just a few words about our trip home. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your prayers. We were really worried about how traveling home was going to go, given how our last day in China went with Eden. The trip home started out a little rough. There was a discrepancy with the spelling of Eden’s Chinese name on her passport/Visa and her airplane tickets. Believe it or not, one space in the wrong place in her name almost caused us to be unable to fly home! Thankfully Delta went to work and corrected the issue and we made our first flight. There were some nervous moments in the Guangzhou airport! The first flight was a little rough for Eden. She cried about half the time. It was about a 3.5 hour flight to Beijing. Once we landed we had about a 4.5 hour layover in Beijing, and Eden did awesome the entire time! We were on the same flight with another family adopting with our agency, so it was great to be able to hang out with them. We had a wonderful surprise waiting for us once we boarded for Detroit….the plane was half empty! That meant the three of us ended up with 6 seats- that gave us room to spread out and made the 13 hour flight so much more comfortable! And Eden did amazing! She didn’t cry once. She slept for about 8 of the 12 hours. We felt your prayers and trust me, we were praising God! After we landed in Detroit, Eden continued to do well. She was definitely ready to be done with airports and airplanes, but after 8 flights in two weeks, so were Zack and I! She cried some on our last little flight, but it was only about 1.5 hours, so we could handle that J It was a wonderful feeling to have our feet back on the ground in South Carolina!
Eden has been in her new home for one week now. To say that we are amazed at how wonderful she is doing is an understatement. Her comfort and ease in her new home is truly miraculous! Other than some sleep issues, which are to be expected after traveling through 12 time zones in two weeks and adjusting to an upside down schedule, she has had a seemingly smooth transition.
We know without a shadow of a doubt that having our 3 “big kids” at home has helped her transition tremendously. We can’t say enough about what an awesome job Noah, Caleb, and Emmie have done with helping their little sister feel right at home. They have been kind, gentle, playful, helpful- whatever the circumstance has called for, they have been up to the task. We have seen them be selfless in ways that have brought tears to our eyes. We are so proud of them. The evidence of their kindness can be seen in the way Eden looks at them, calls for them (it is so cute to hear her pronounce their names), and lift her little arms up to them in hopes they will pick her up- and they do!
My mom also was here this week to help out with the household chores and daily tasks so that we could concentrate on spending time with Eden and our kids. This was a huge blessing and it was so hard to see her go. We are truly so blessed with amazing parents. We couldn’t do it without them!
She is warming up to everyone, including me- I even get kisses and hugs now! Zack went back to work Monday, and so she was “stuck” with me, for better or worse, and thankfully, she chose to see it for the better. The time together has been great for us, and I think we both feel much more secure and at ease with one another. Again, I am not saying we have arrived, but the progress is incredible. We just can’t believe it and we are so thankful.
Eden’s first few nights in the USA were tough for her and us. Though she went to bed without protest, she also wanted to go to bed very early (jet lag and time zone change). She would wake around midnight and then about every two hours after. It was a tiring few days. Thankfully the last two nights she slept through the night- she went to bed around 7:45 and then woke around 6:30, which is a huge improvement! She had been waking at 5am…and staying up! And that made for one tired mom and dad! We are praying that she is adjusting to her new schedule and this pattern of sleeping through the night will continue ;)
Eden’s personality has really started to shine here in America. So many times the grief that a child is experiencing overshadows everything else, and that makes it hard to see the “real” child through all the grief. This is what we experienced in China with both of our girls. Though we realize that Eden still most likely has moments of grief and will for some time, this girl has been nothing but smiles for the most part. It brings a smile to my face just to think about it! She loves playing with her siblings- whatever they are doing, she is more than happy to be involved. She loves playing outside, she loves going to the pool….she seems happy to be here! She is still very protective of her backpacks, though she has begun to remove some of the things she placed in them while in China. She often will take some snacks out and share them with her siblings. She has a very kind heart and loves to share. She also has allowed the backpacks to stay behind a few times when we have gone to the store. They are definitely still her security, however, and this is evident at bedtime. She wants them either in the bed with her, or on the floor where she can see them. We feel like her backpacks are very much something that she uses to maintain control and a sense of stability, and as she releases control of her backpacks, she is also releasing control of her life, and allowing us to be a part of it. That might sound a little kooky, but from what have seen, it makes perfect sense.
So, as you can tell, we are just blown away with her progress. It’s hard to explain unless you could see the “before” Eden. It’s almost like a house renovation or a makeover- Sometimes the after is so different than the before, it’s hard to believe they were ever the same! I remember thinking the same thing once Emmie had been home for several weeks, amazed at the difference in her personality, her attitude, and just being in awe of how God truly can bring beauty from ashes. We just never expected so much to occur with Eden in the first week! I guess this could be some sort of “honeymoon” phase that we are experiencing right now, but it certainly feels like the real deal.
In terms of what it has been like to be a family of 6- it has been awesome! Yes, it is a lot of work, and there are times when I feel overwhelmed with the reality of having 4 kids. I doubt if I have the energy and stamina for it all- the laundry, the cleaning, the cooking, the bedtimes, etc.. I am not as young as I used to be, and I admit, I am exhausted at the end of each day. But then I look at these four precious children and I think to myself, what better task could I be giving myself to then being their mom? I have not been able to come up with an answer that even comes close…and I doubt I ever well. Being a family of 6 rocks!
After every adoption, even our first, we have always said we are done- no more children…the first few weeks home can kind of make you feel that way J This time, however, I feel as though I can respond to future possibilities of another child in a different way. I truly feel that I can say our family is complete. Once we were home Friday night and all of our children were sleeping, an overwhelming feeling of peace and completeness from the Lord washed over me, and I fell on my knees and I felt God’s Spirit tell me- this is the family that I want you to have. It was such an amazing, full, and content feeling. We will always be advocates for adoption and orphan care, but I feel as though God has brought a child to our family through adoption for the final time this time. I know that He will call our family to orphan care through other avenues- He already has, and I already have dreams of taking all of our children back to their native countries on vision trips, short term mission trips, etc. I never want to stop sharing the story of all God has done in our lives through adoption with interested couples and families. Adoption is something that has forever changed our family’s life, and we are so thankful for it. Now, if in a few years we are adopting again, you all don’t rub these words in my face too much, okay? :)
I hope to update once every couple of weeks. I know this sounds like a broken record, but we can’t think you all enough for your prayers, messages of encouragement, and every kind email, post, etc. You will never know how much they have meant. Words truly do have the power to give life, and you all gave us much life, and we are forever grateful.