It's been awhile since I have posted anything, ok, 2 1/2 months. :) I've had many, many people ask about us and I'm so thankful that people care and want to know how little Miss Chloe is doing! :) So here it goes, I'll try my best to do a recap. :)
The first few weeks home were spent going to many doctors appointments and settling in to life as a family of 7. We are in awe of the love that our other children have shown to Chloe. They welcomed her with open arms and have continued to love her, play with her, carry her, etc. They can't wait to get home from school to see her and she feels the same. They have never once seemed jealous which is a natural reaction for kids, but we feel tremendously blessed with the ease of her arrival into our family.
Once we were settled into a routine we were given referrals for a speech pathologist, occupational therapist and feeding therapist. I was devastated when I called our insurance company and they said they would not pay for speech or feeding... NOT AT ALL!! I was once again blessed by my sweet friend that found someone that was willing to help us! Therapeutic Interventions is working with us and treating her in ALL 3 areas!! What a blessing to know that she is getting the treatment that she needs! And honestly, I wasn't expecting to get "therapy" myself, but each of the 3 ladies there have blessed me beyond words! I actually LOVE going to her therapy appointments too! :) We go there twice a week and Chloe really enjoys going! Through the therapy we have realized that Chloe would probably really thrive in school, and that being around children her age would not only help her language, but also help socially.
Let me back up just a little more.... for the past month or so, we have seen a new little personality come out in Chloe. She is still happy, most of the time. Some say she has gotten comfortable! :) ha! She has times where she gets upset and starts screaming, often times like a 2 year old would when they don't get there way. She thinks if she has signed please or more, or any other sign, than she should get it! There has been a few times where she got upset and we couldn't figure out why, but sitting in her room for a short time to calm down is the only thing that helps and she has learned that she can't scream so she often decides she will stop before we even get to her room. Since we have been home, she has learned about 15 signs and can understand short commands like sit down, go potty, put on your shoes. She says more, mama, dada, bye bye, help, eeeee (for eat :)), happy, keen up (clean up), gurple (purple), and go. She is doing great eating and chewing her food and LOVES vegetables and fruit! Her favorites are avocados, hummus, bananas, grapes, applesauce, greek yogurt with blueberries and strawberries, and cheese. And don't come between that girl and her food! (probably why she has gained 7 pounds since being home!) She is serious when it comes to eating! :) oh and neat too! If I open up something and put the lid or paper on the counter while I mix it, she grabs it and puts it in the trash can. She will even try and make her bed and she sorts her toys when putting them away!! Oh, she IS my child! :)
The school process.... the process, oh the PROCESS, it's long and frustrating, and trying to decipher what is truly best for her has been exhausting. After many weeks of discussions with different school personell she was finally tested last week with the special needs pre-K team and now we wait some more for a meeting to find out what assistance they can/will provide for her. In the meantime, they suggested that we go ahead and put her in kindergarten, at River Ridge where Parker & Grayson attend. As well as she has adjusted, she has a long, long way to go. We knew before we got her that there were many possibilities as to what she would be capable of, would she ever speak, etc. Some days I don't feel like she is 'learning' anything new and other days I feel like she has made some improvements. She still requires prompting when spoken to, and visits her "own world" as I like to call it. She does hum at times and is much like a 2 year old (or younger) socially. With all that, when they said KINDERGARTEN I felt overwhelmed, and not for Chloe, but for that poor teacher! I expressed my concerns, and told them that I thought Chloe would be fine, but she requires so much extra attention that it wasn't fair to the teacher or other students in a class of 21 kids! She doesn't even know how to properly hold a pencil, she can't color inside lines, open up her own lunch, and could wonder out of the class at any moment. So, I'm praying that it is a temporary fix (for the sweet teachers), but for now, she will go to kindergarten at RRE. They don't have a special needs class there for her so if I can get her in special ed, we would change schools, but it would also mean a smaller class size which would be MUCH better for her! In the meantime, she has a teacher that I dearly love (2 of my other kids had her), and she is experienced in special ed so she is very knowledgable with children that are different and her parapro is wonderful too! They make a wonderful team... did I say we are blessed? :) After meeting with the teacher and principal, they felt it would be best to start her off gradually so she wasn't scared and so that I can assist in some of the sign language until she is more comfortable. Today was her first day! We planned to stay for only about 30 minutes and she did great! She walked with them in the line and even put her finger over her mouth for "hips & lips". She sat in her spot on the carpet while the teacher read a story, then through calendar time, weather, and then her favorite... A few songs! As soon as the music played she jumped up and started dancing. :) She tried to do the motions that the other kids were doing and laughed and laughed. We then said good bye to the class but not before she signed "thank you".
I get asked all the time, "how is she doing??" I'll be honest and say often times I don't really know how to respond. I'm not sure if people mean is she talking yet? is she "normal"? has she adjusted? I don't mind the questions at all. I'm very open and honest about her and I'm not ashamed or worried about what the future holds in terms of her 'abilties'. Do I want to know? sure! Does it matter? no but I do think that the sooner we find out if there is some type of genetic disorder, sensory problem, etc., the faster that we can provide the services that will equip her for a brighter future. So if you are asking if she is happy? YES! Has she brought us much joy? YES! And are we a normal family that gets frustrated and discouraged? ABSOLUTELY! :) I'm thankful that God chose me to be Chloe's mother. There is no doubt that she belongs with our family!
Thank you again for everyone that has prayed for us and followed along with us in this journey. I stand amazed ....
Blessings to you!~
P.S. - for all the typos and errors, sorry... I was only interrupted 101 times... ha ha
Monday, August 19, 2013
Yesterday marked 1 week home for us! We had a super busy week, with lots of "firsts". I really had no intention of continuing to blog once we were home, but I have decided it is a great way to log her milestones and something for me to look back on and see how far we have come, so if this is boring to you, so sorry! :)
Chloe's week of firsts included:
Chloe's week of firsts included:
- first haircut
- first grocery "car" ride
- first trip to Target... Mommy's FAVORITE store! :)
- first time meeting lots of people!
- first time riding in a Barbie Jeep
- first time getting her nails painted
- first time playing with play doh
The week was also filled with LOTS of appointments that included the pediatrician, dentist, ENT to check her hearing and ears, and speech. She also got to see her brother (Jackson) get his cast off and I had a dentist appointment myself! Parker had football 3 nights (and it would have been 5 but 2 were cancelled because of the rain), 3 orientations for school, more than 15 loads of laundry, kids homework, and countless nights of 3 and 4 AM "wake ups" and we are all exhausted! We were able to catch up on some sleep this weekend, clean the house, do a "big" grocery store trip, and spend time with the kids. She is bonding with her brothers and sister well and they all enjoy her... sometimes even like to "fight" about who will sit by her, carry her, dress her, etc. They are very fascinated by the fact that she can sign "more music" and we have to remind them that she is not a puppet! :)
In the coming weeks she will be seen by an occupational therapist, physical therapist, developmental pediatrician, and the cleft/lip team at MCG. Today I started back keeping "baby" Parker (whom I dearly love and I'm so thankful to be able to watch him while his mommy teaches school) and I even made it to the gym by 6AM! Chloe can now sign please, thank you, more, music, potty, and eat. She LOVES music and will try anything when it comes to food. She did not like our dog Sadie at all and would want to be held when she came near her but this morning she has decided she might not be so bad after all and has petted her several times today on her own.
We are blessed with meals from our Sunday School class and calls and texts from friends with words of encouragement. It means so much to have so many people supporting us. It's a journey, the road might be long, but we will celebrate the milestones and trust God that his plan is perfect!
Our Hope in Him,
First haircut! :)
Sunday, August 11, 2013
To say we are excited is an understatement. Our short stay in Hong Kong was relatively uneventful. We got up this morning (Sunday morning here) at 4AM to get ready and leave for the airport. It was a short 45 minute taxi ride, and Chloe kept looking at us like why in the world have you woken me up in the middle of the night and now you have me riding in yet another car?? Ha! We arrived at the airport with plenty of time, but we had a little problem with immigration. When we arrived at the train station on Friday they forgot to put the sticker in my passport that said I had in fact arrived in HK and was allowed to be there. We were escorted to a back room where we were questioned about how/when we got there etc. They took all of our passports, made copies, looked on a computer, and after about 20 minutes released us. Phew! I will say they were very nice the entire time, I just knew I HAD to get on that plane!! The first flight was a 4 1/2 hour flight to Tokyo, where we are now, waiting to board our plane that takes us all the way to ATLANTA!! It went smoothly and Chloe rested some and watched a movie. The next flight, is a 12 hour flight and we are praying that it is smooth too with lots of sleeping. :) We are scheduled to land in Atlanta at 3:20 Sunday afternoon (GA time!!). I'm ready to get back into my routine... Taking care of my kids, washing clothes, carpooling to and fro, cooking dinner (um, ok maybe not), cleaning the house, and doing paperwork. Oh, wait!! I'm done with paperwork!! Or at least for now I am.... :) Sunday night, August 11th we will be united as a FAMILY of 7!!! This song and word have come to mind many times throughout this process...
I'm thankful for Gods love, his provision, peace, and guidance. I don't deserve anything, but I am thankful that he choose us to be Chloe's parents! Much love to all of you! You have helped us, supported us, and prayed for us. See you all VERY soon! Love, Jeff & Katie P.S. for any last minute flight changes, you can check the blog. :) And a few more pics...
Thursday, August 8, 2013
It's OFFICIAL!! The last portion of paperwork is complete. Today we went to the US Consulate, took an oath that our paperwork was correct, signed a few more papers, and we were on our way. Tomorrow at 3:30 pm our guide will pick up Chloe's visa so that we can bring her home! The rest of the day we spent at a toy and gift wholesale mart called One link, with floors and floors of basically junk, most of which we had never even seen before. It was interesting and was indoors so it gave us a cool environment to be in. We went back to Shamian Island, ate lunch and picked up something that we had seen the other day while we were there and wanted to purchase. We didn't get back until almost 5:00 so Chloe was WORN out! She didn't get a nap or rest time today, and we could tell! :) She was a champ while we were out, but towards the end let us know she was done with all this running around. :) She does not like to walk for very long, so the hotel stroller (never fear, it was cleaned and sanitized...ha ha) has come in handy. We could not have made it without it. I think it will take her awhile to build up the strength to walk a lot, but we can work on that once we are home. I am all packed and ready to leave for Hong Kong. We don't leave until 3:30 tomorrow, and we will take a train from Guangzhou to Hong Kong. We will stay there Friday and Saturday night, and then FLY home on Sunday!! We leave Sunday morning at 8:00 (which is Saturday night at 8:00) and we fly from Hong Kong to Tokyo, then Tokyo to Detroit, Detroit to Atlanta, and then Atlanta to Augusta! Whew! Please pray for us as the flight from Tokyo to Detroit is 12 hours. It was long for me, I can't imagine for poor Chloe, that does not even know what we are saying will think. Please pray for no delays, no sickness, and ease of the long 24 hours of travel time that we will have. Our Hope in Him, Jeff & Katie
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
This morning we went to the Yuntai Garden. It was beautiful but hot, and we walked around for about an hour. We have had our picture taken but this was the first time someone asked if they could have a picture with us. She sent her kids to say "hi" and they were very proud that they could say it, and who can say no to two cute little kids. :) After the garden we went to the pearl and jade wholesale market. It reminded me a little of the mart in Atlanta, and had floor after floor of pearls, jade, and jewelry. We left there and came back to the hotel. Chloe enjoyed her famous noodles for lunch and then we took a nap while Jeff went to the supermarket to get us some more bottled water and noodles to last us for the rest of the trip. We went to the pool for a little while after our naps and then came back to get ready for dinner. We had heard wonderful things about a Tai restaurant called Banana Leaf so we ventured out to try something new. As picky of a eater as I am, I was hungry (I've run out of my crackers or granola bars that I eat for lunch) and ready to try something new. The restaurant was a short walk away, about 10 minutes. We had planned to view the menu before we committed to eating there but we were swept in and seated before we had a chance to look. The restaurant was really neat, decorated with interesting decor, and they even had a group playing the guitar and singing. We ordered some rice, black pepper beef, and spring rolls for us, and Chloe had chicken & corn soup in coconut milk. (I know, try not to be jealous about the soup. :)) She loved the soup and ate two bowls (small) of rice. She wanted more rice but after the episode we had last week, we just had to say no. Tomorrow is our BIG DAY! Our consulate appointment is the very last, yes the LAST thing we have to do here! No more paperwork... hooray! Our appointment is at 8:30 AM, which is Wednesday at 8:30 pm Georgia time. Chloe LOVES music and dancing, and is pretty content and quiet. She finds one thing and is totally fascinated with it for hours, sometimes days, and then moves on to something else. She has learned to sign more, all done, and we are working on the sign for potty. She can say momma, dada, and bye-bye. We are beyond blessed that God has chosen us to be her parents! He could have chosen anyone, but he choose us! Through adoption we learn to live. Through adoption we learn the joy of acceptance. Through adoption we learn the blessing of belonging. This sweet girl that God has made part of our family will never spend another minute, another day, or another hour tied to her bed. She will never not hear I love you. I might not be a super mom, but I promise to love this little girl that God has trusted me with until the day he calls me home. The road will not be easy, and the days might be long, but I will put my trust in God and rest in his sovereign control. There are so many friends and family that have helped us through this process. You have prayed for us, supported us, and financially helped us. God made the impossible, possible! and I am beyond blessed and thankful for each one of you! Our Hope in Him, Jeff & Katie
Temple from Tuesday
This is the Budda that we people go to in order pray for another child - Jeff told me to walk away, LOL
Us being silly:0
Chloe dancing with daddy
Learning to twirl!
This morning we went with our guide Elvin to the Six Banyan Temple. It was similar to the temple in Fuzhou, but not as large. After we went to a shop that had different items that are unique to this area and looked around. We came back to our hotel and rested and then went to the pool. Chloe enjoyed the water again today and was a little more comfortable. We got her a swim ring and she LOVES it! Wanted to sleep with it tonight too. :) This afternoon we decided to head to the circus that we hear so many wonderful things about. It is about an hour taxi ride, so we decided to try the subway once again. It took us about 35 minutes and it takes you right to the park area and buses shuttle you to the different areas. (They have a safari park, amusement park, water park, etc.) When we FINALLY found someone that spoke some English, we found out the show that seats 7000 was SOLD OUT tonight! Ugh! We spent the next 30 minutes walking and trying to go to another area to see if we could purchase tickets for tomorrow night. We were not successful with that either. We made it back to the subway, this time it was MUCH more crowded, and came back. By this time we had been riding the subway back and forth or walking for 3 hours. We were tired and hungry so we went to a local pizza restaurant. Jeff and I enjoyed some pizza while Chloe ate some minestrone soup. She LOVED it!! Ate the potatoes, carrots, green beans, everything and loved the broth too! She had finally worked up an appetite. I think we will all sleep good tonight! It is Tuesday night here, but Tuesday morning back at home. Today was the kids first day of school. I can not believe I have a 7th grader, 6th grader, 4th grader, and 3rd grader! Wow, they are growing up WAY too fast! For all of my friends that are teachers or work in the school system... I hope you have a wonderful first day!! Much love to all of you! Jeff & Katie
Monday, August 5, 2013
We had a great day today! Jeff and I both agreed this has been our best day yet! This morning we were on our own so we took a taxi to Shamian Island, about a 20 minute ride from our hotel. This is where the US Consulate use to be and the area reminded us a lot of Savannah, with historical buildings, lots of trees and a park area that overlooked the Pearl River. There were people dancing, singing, and playing their version of hacky sack, models and brides doing photo shoots and a few shops along the way. We stayed there for a couple of hours and then headed back to our hotel. Chloe napped and we rested and then decided we would try the pool here. We were delighted to find several other families that are here adopting as well and ended up staying and talking for 3 hours. One of the families we met are from Atlanta! It was like we had known each forever. I am so thankful God had our paths cross, and he knew just what I needed today! It was a great "pick me up". Chloe wasn't to sure of the water at first, but ended up dancing and playing. She did not want water splashed in her face, but overall she seemed to really enjoy it and she played on a slide as well. We got a recommendation that the Irish pub here was good and so we went there for dinner. Chloe was better today, not 100% but improving still so we are thankful! Her new "toy" of choice tonight was the paper coaster from the Irish Pub. Maybe she is bringing it home for her Uncle Gordon? :)) Once again I was reminded to NOT worry. God is ALWAYS on time... I need to TRUST HIM! Our HOPE in Him, Jeff & Katie
The Pearl River
Hacky sack in the park
Chloe in the pool
Dancing in the pool