Category Archives: Adoption

Reminiscing

Since we are coming up on the one year anniversary of having Rachel in our family, I have been reminiscing about the year and all of the changes we’ve been through. We are still adjusting, but it is SO MUCH EASIER than it was back in January and February. Every person in our family has come a long way. But no one has come as far as Rachel. She amazes me!

God is so good! He has been so gracious to us during this year. One thing I have come to be most thankful for is His timing. Rachel pretty much jumped right in our family and just took off while our heads were still spinning. She had a few moments of grief early on. But it seems that she has begun to have spells of grieving more and more as reality sets in that this family is for good. And maybe she is feeling safe enough to share her sadness with us. God has been so gracious in letting us have the first part of the year to deal in large part with our own adjustments. Now I am in a place where I feel that motherly protectiveness of her so that I can be who she needs to comfort her during her grief.

Several weeks ago Rachel and I went shopping together. I was trying to buy some stocking stuffers along with other items. With the boys I have always been able to shop for small Christmas items while they are with me. They don’t notice a thing. Rachel, on the other hand, does not miss a thing. (I also never had problems hiding gifts before she came along. She finds everything.) So I was a bit frustrated already that I couldn’t get my stocking shopping done. Then we’ve had the ongoing, “I want that for Christmas,” from Rachel every time she sees a toy commercial on tv or something in the store she likes. Yesterday she told me, “Mom, I want some Skechers.” She’s six! So we’ve been talking for weeks about how you don’t get everything you want for Christmas. You just get a few things that you want. This particular morning Rachel kept saying, “I want this for Christmas,” til I could not stand it anymore. I had already asked her several times to stop asking for things, but I finally snapped.  And I snapped at her as we were checking out.

In the car on the way home, she was quiet and pouty. She has the pouty bottom lip thing down. 😉  When we got home, I went about my business. A few minutes later she came to find me and hugged me sobbing and saying, “Mom, I just want to say I’m sorry for saying, ‘I want that for Christmas.'” She was truly heart-broken. I just held her and talked to her. She lay in my arms letting out heart-wrenching sobs for about 10 minutes. Somehow I just knew that this was not only about the whole store incident. It was much deeper.

Then one night this week I went to a concert (to hear Todd Agnew!) with some friends. Tommy told me that while I was gone Titus told him that Rachel said that she was going to climb out the window. She came to Tommy crying and saying, ” I don’t want to be in this family anymore.” When he asked her why, she said, “Because I always get in trouble.” Then she sat beside Tommy and cried and cried.

She does get in trouble a lot for not listening (she’s usually talking 🙂 ). But, for the most, part she has really come a long way. She really doesn’t need correcting much more than the boys. She does seem to have a skewed view of things. She’s always asking why Titus and Caleb get to do such and such. Then I point out to her that she already had a snack, or she got to go to the store with me yesterday. I wonder how long the whole jealousy thing is going to last.

Recently I looked back at some photos of our Gotcha Day. It just struck me how terrified this child was. I’ve mentioned before that now that I know her I realize that she gets extremely hyper when she’s nervous. That day she must have been terrified. I remember watching her and thinking, “This child never stops moving or talking.” When I think of all that she’s been through in her life and then this HUGE change to a completely new life, I am just in awe of this beautiful girl child.

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Home Six Months!

WOW! Rachel has been home six months today. She is such a different child from the one we met in China. Now that she has been home a while, I know her well enough to know that she gets very hyper whenever she’s anxious. Looking back at photos of the day we met her, I now think that she must have been scared to death even though she seemed to take everything in stride. One of my memories during those first few exciting moments was thinking “This child NEVER stops moving. And she NEVER stops talking either.” Now I know that she was just so very anxious. My heart breaks for this little girl who has been through so much in her short life.

The orphanage director gave us a photo album with pictures of Rachel during her time at the orphanage. Here is the earliest photo we have of her.

Suhui 5-2007

The past six months have been a HUGE transition for all of us. Rachel is just blossoming! My mom and others who are around her frequently have been pointing out what a different child she is now. She is still loud and pretty active, but she listens to us or Granny when we correct her and she is so much more well-behaved. She really is a delight to be around most of the time. She is very affectionate and tries so hard to please.

All that I can say is “THANK YOU! THANK YOU!” to all of you BTDT parents who told me that things would be completely different in six months! You were so right!

Here are some photos taken today of Rachel modeling her new dress, jewelry, and backpack–we received a package full of clothes, purses, and jewelry from Aunt Susan yesterday. Aunt SuSu knows what a girl needs! 🙂

Suhui 7-2009

Suhui 7-2009 2

Isn’t she beautiful?

Suhui 7-2009 3

Several months ago I received a comment from an extremely angry person. I immediately deleted it realizing that this person had issues unrelated to me and my family. But something she said got me thinking. She said, “This is not about you.” That is true and not true at the same time. I understood that she was not happy about me being honest about the struggles of adopting.

But as I began to think about this I realized that this is about a little girl getting a home and a family and a place to belong forever. But it is more than that. It is about us getting a beautiful little girl to change us and our lives. She has/is changing who we are, everyone of us.

Our God is SO BIG and SO AMAZING that He is the best multi-tasker ever. 🙂 While He is giving Rachel a home and is slowly healing her heart from all the heartaches of her past. He is using her to change each person in our family, to stretch us and grow us in the ways that we each need. I can only share how He is working and changing in me.

I shared before that I feel called to be a mother. I have wanted to do this as long as I can remember. But as he often does, our enemy uses our passions and tries to turn them into something bad. Therefore, I have constantly struggled with relying on my own abilities as a mother because this is something I’m good at. Over the past few years Papa has used depression and other circumstances to put me flat on my back more than once to teach me that it’s not me, it’s Him.

Bringing home Rachel has brought me to an even deeper level of understanding how small and inadequate I am and to further realization that I am NOT in control no matter how many times I fool myself into thinking that I am. There have been SO MANY days that I have cried out to my papa, “I DO NOT have what this child needs. You are going to have to meet her needs.” Praying that has awakened me to the fact that ultimately I do not have what any of my children need. God is the only one who can fill their hearts. My role is to let them know that I will let them down, others will let them down, all of the other things they may try to fill themselves with will ultimately disappoint, but God, who loves them more than I ever will, is always there for them. He is the one they can always turn to. He will never disappoint.

Ultimately, it’s all about Him. He is just so cool to take us on this amazing and fun 🙂 journey closer and closer to Him in ways that bring Him glory.

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just a few pictures

Kim is out shopping.  AGAIN!  😉 (retail therapy) Rachel is was napping. Kim wanted me to post a few pictures.  We went to a “toy market” today.  7+ story mall that looked like Oriental trading company exploded.

After lunch we took some pictures of Rachel Suhui and youyou in the park and also on the red couch.  Red couch pictures are a tradition in Chinese adoption.

Rachel and Clara

Rachel

Clara Youyou (yo-yo)

Caleb was bribed.

Youyou decided to hug Suhui

a Nixon fan! (very common pose here)

Rachel poking head around column.

She is watchign some new year special on TV and singing along. Her volume goes up each chorus.

Tonight we go on a River cruise.

****

BTW her behavior seems to be noticably better today.  We had only one time that she HAD to stay in her stroller and wanted out and getting those new PJ’s off her this morning wasn’t easy, but she is learning.  Our guide says it is good that she greives out loud and shares what is on her heart instead of being withdrawn.  That she gets it out and soon is back to being happy.  That is a good perspective.

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It’s been one week!

I am sure Kim will wake up in the middle of the night and post about today as well.  But I will give you my 2 cents while I am waiting on photos to upload so that I can charge batteries for tomorrow and play at making another “video”.

This morning we and the Hammond’s went to the Zoo.  We were driven around in a large golf cart kind of thing to see the whole layout then walked most of it again later.  As we were driving we would see an animal and Rachel Suhui would squeal and say in Chinese “Beautiful!”.   As we approached a lake with swans both black and white she yelled “OHHH little Chickens!!!”   The driver was very amused asking why in the world she would think they were little?  She loved the animals and we bought her and Caleb suffed tigers.  She spent much of the rest of the day trying to scare people with her tiger.

Rebecca told us that she thinks Suhui developmentaly is ahead of normal in terms of intellegence and also that she is VERY bossy.  We knew the bossy part!  She was bossing the driver today as well yelling GO!  She does get out of breath very easily and tires from walking very far.  Heaven help us when that is corrected!

We came back to the island for lunch and all went to Lucy’s which is very near the White Swan Hotel.  We went first into the White Swan to see the lobby.  It is MUCH nicer than here at the Victory, but from all accounts our rooms are much better and cheaper.  The walk between the two is only a minute or two.  Lucy’s is western food.  Suhui (hard to call her Rachel, because innocent lamb doesn’t seem yet to fit) showed a little of her button pushing or the Hammonds.  she started by throwing her plastic chair then later kept eating flowers that were falling off the trees.  Can’t really remember the rest of it.  Kim said the hamburger tasted strange and couldn’t eat it.  I guess the cheese covered mine.  It was REALLY nice to have sweet tea.

Kim went shopping after that while we played “DON’T SPIT IN BABA’S FACE” in the room.   Which is followed by how many kisses can I give you.  Apparently pretty classic behavior to see what it takes to make you explode. We are learning when it gets too much to get away if you can, go in the bathroom / let her cry.  At least that is what I think I am learning.  I asked Kim if she for some unknown reason might have prayed for patience and this was our way of learning it. 😉

We ate Ti food tonight (how do you spell that? any way it was good but Caleb had Subway…I think he made the better choice.

I just realized as I was putting some pictures into a set on Flikr that it has been a week.  We have had this tasmanian devil of a little girl in our lives for a week now!   Despite all the challenges I can honestly say it doesn’t seem that long.  A week ago she ran arround a table and changed our lives forever.

Eli and Titus…I miss you both so much!  I will not be too much longer now until we are home.   Caleb misses you guys and Molly too.  Tomorrow we go to a toy market in the morning!  And I think (unless my days are mixed up) we will talk to you guys on Skype in our morning your afternoon.

Now a few pictures from the day.

Arron asks “How much do I have to pay for you to take this snake off my son?”

Caleb chose to take his picture with the exotic Dalmation.

Suhui dragging her feet in the stroller…a little trick she likes to do

I love my tiger.

The gang eating at Lucy’s

Naptime

new PJ’s and ready for bed!

I got a Sword!

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Orphanage Visit

Suhui getting ready to visit orphanage

Looking at herself in mirror after getting dressed

Ready to go!

This morning our guide picked us up to go to visit the orphanage. Caleb reminded us to ask Zoe to explain to Suhui where we were going and that we were not going to leave her. Zoe told her that she has a large family now that she is going to live with but that we were going to the orphanage to say good-bye to the director (who she calls Baba, Daddy), her “teacher”, and the other children.

The orphanage was in a different part of town. I took video on the way there. There were crowds of people out shopping, walking all over the street. It was hard for the driver to drive there were so many people walking in the street. There were all kinds of food shops.

The orphanage is gated and the buildings around looked pretty old. The orphanage is very large and a pretty nice building. The director met us and gave us a tour. Suhui ran right inside like she knew her way around. The director said that her foster mother brought her here twice a month to have her heart checked. There is a medical clinic of sorts in the orphanage. We saw the rooms where they keep the sick babies. There are a good many doctors and nurses who work there.

Then we saw areas for children with mental and physical handicaps. So many sweet children! They have a Half the Sky program. Half the Sky does excellent work with the orphanages in China. They teach the nannies about child development, the kind of stimulation the children need for proper develop, the need for the children to develop an attachment to one caregiver.

The halls of the orphanage were very cold, but the rooms where the children are were warm. In China many businesses/stores/restaurants and homes our guide told us as well are not heated.

The director showed us the room where all of the children stay for 1-2 months when they arrive to be observed for any kind of problems. He said that Suhui stayed here and suggested that we take a photo of her next to one of the beds. She was quite full of herself and would not cooperate.

Here’s a photo of her sitting on the floor int that room

Baby room at Wuhan CWI

Suhui in an infant care room

Wuhan CWI

Suhui walking down the drive to the front of the orphanage for photos

Suhui at front of orphanage

Director Chen and Teacher Hu with us in front of Wuhan CWI

Suhui took Caleb’s hand as we were leaving the orphanage

We asked our guide to ask Director Chen yesterday if there was anything the orphanage needed as we are supposed to bring a gift. He said that they need a small refrigerator. So today after our visit he invited us to lunch and said that we could also go buy the refrigerator. The first place we went to did not have the right kind. We told our guide to tell him that we could just give him the money to buy it. But it was important to him for us to see that he bought a refrigerator. The next store we went to had one, but it was more expensive than he thought it should be. It was pretty impressive listening to him bargain with the sales person even though we could not understand them. We could tell he was determined to get the price down. He could not get it down as much as he wanted, but we said that we would still buy it. It was $200 USD. He told us several times throughout the rest of our time with him how thankful he was that we did that even though it cost so much.

Then we went out to eat. We had many dishes. We had bean curd dumplings which Suhui loved; some sort of tomato based soup with meat and potatoes that was very good; some sort of stewed lettuce-type vegetable, reminded us of turnip greens-they were also pretty good. We also had a turnip soup, a mushroom dish that I actually liked and I’m not a mushroom fan, and a spicy frog (YES, FROG!) stew complete with little froggy bones, and a fried fish in some sort of sweet-and-sour sauce complete with the head still on. There were tanks of fish at the front of the restaurant where you could pick out you meal. The cook brought the fish to our table for approval before cooking it. Wuhan is known for it fish dishes because there are two rivers intersect here, the Yangtze and the Han. Tommy and I both agreed that this meal was much better than anything we had in Beijing. I didn’t care for the frog dish though.

We were able to ask Director Chen questions while we were shopping and eating. The most helpful thing we found out is that Suhui’s foster parents gave her whatever she wanted because they were worried about her heart condition. They were scared to let her cry. I kind of felt like she’s used to getting her way alot. But I didn’t know if it was just the way she was behaving around us. It also seems like she’s used to getting attention whenever she coughs or get hurt even slightly. She always looks to see our reaction.

We had another terrible shopping experience with her while we were shopping with Director Chen. We were buying some potato chips for Caleb, so we let Suhui pick out a bag. As we were leaving she started screaming for gum even though she had a large container of gum in the van and two bags of chips in her hands. Director Chen talked to her, but she screamed and screamed.

At lunch he told us that he had some advice for us. He said, “Don’t let her have everything she wants.” 🙂 He also talked about how smart she is and suggested that we find her a hobby, like dancing or playing an instrument, because she has lots of energy and likes to imitate people.

I was very impressed with Director Chen. He really seems to care about the children. He again expressed his desire to keep in touch and asked for our e-mail address so that he can send us a photo of the children with the refrigerator. He also said that he will send photos we send to the foster family or any gifts for them that we send to him.

Suhui with Director Chen right before we left the restaurant

Suhui’s finding spot is in the section of Wuhan called Hankou. We will go to see it on the way to the airport on Friday.

It is the policy of Hubei province to not allow contact between the foster family and the adoptive family. We had told our guide that we wished we could meet the foster family. She asked Director Chen, and he said that they had called the foster family and that the mother was visiting relatives in Shanghai for the Spring Festival and also because she was a little sad about Suhui leaving. This is different from what he has told other families about the policy. I don’t know if he was just telling us that to satisfy us or if maybe they are becoming more understanding about the need for the adopted children to have that connection to their past. Zoe, our guide, told us that she understood our desire to at least have photos of the foster family for Suhui’s sake. She said that if we got home and developed the cameras I sent to the foster family and there were no photos of the family to let her know and she will get a photo of them for us. She has been so sweet and much more helpful today. I really like her alot.

Suhui seems to be adjusting somewhat. She will play or watch tv with us a little bit away from her without crying out and asking to be held every minute. She seems to be wanting to do more with me and less with Tommy which is good in some ways that she is bonding closely with one of us. But it makes it a little harder on me. But things are getting easier. I think getting out for a while today helped make things easier.

When we talked to the boys on Skype this morning, she said, “Hello!” She loves to read the board books that I brought and repeats the words after me as I read. So cute to hear her talk in English!

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Some Photos

Suhui playing in the bathtub the afternoon of Gotcha Day

Suhui and Baba eating Pizza Hut pizza. She didn’t know how to eat the pizza. She used a fork to pull off the toppings.

Mama and Suhui putting on make-up

This is at the place where we filled out paperwork on Tuesday. The orphanage director was great with Suhui, laughing and playing with her. She was afraid to go to him because she was afraid that he would take her away. But she did laugh and play with him across the table. She kept throwing her toys across for him to see. She had fun til it got a little out of hand–she started throwing handfuls of toys–and we made her stop.

Our guide took this one right after we finished paperwork. It’s official!!! She’s ours!

Mama and Suhui napping

Suhui likes to sleep all bundled up until she’s sweating.

Someone asked about her sizes. She is larger than we thought she would be. I don’t know if the measurements we received were inaccurate or if she has grown that much. She is pretty close to Titus’ size, maybe a little skinnier. Some of the 3T clothes I brought for her fit but some do not. Only two pairs of pants I brought fit, so last night we went shopping.

When we were getting ready to go, I explained to Suhui in Chinese that we were all going to go eat. She seemed to understand and kept saying “Qu chi fan” which is “go eat”. But when we tried to put her in the stroller she melted. We wrestled with her for a while because McDonalds is several blocks away, and she is pretty heavy to carry. Then Tommy decided that she didn’t understand, that maybe she thought we were going to leave her. We could not remember how to say “We will not leave you.” So I looked it up online. Then I explained to her that we were going to eat and that Baba wouldn’t leave her and Mama wouldn’t leave her. I asked her “Okay?” And she nodded and stopped crying. We tried to put her in the stroller again, and she started crying again. So we stopped to pray because we were both getting pretty frustrated by now. Then when we explained to her again that we were going to eat and we would not leave her, she got in the stroller.

I am very sad though because she took the baby doll that I gave her on Gotcha Day and apparently dropped it somewhere along the way. We looked for it on the way back, but it is gone.

We walked to McDonalds to eat first. It was a little taste of home. The KFC chicken is  more spicy than home, and besides the bucket of chicken they have strange-looking things on the menu. Tommy and I got quarter pounders. They were pretty good. A little different with cucumber slices and some slightly spicy sauce. Suhui did not know what to do with a hamburger. She took it apart, but she only ate a bite of the bun. She likes french fries though.

Then we went to a department store. I took Suhui to shop for some pants while Tommy and Caleb looked at electronic games and toys on the same floor. This store was seven floors. I found Suhui two pairs of pants and then we bought her some tennis shoes. The shoes she came to us in are cute little metallic gold boots with big flowers on them.  The sales lady showed us some pink tennis shoes that light up when you walk. Suhui loved those and wore them out of the store. She told everyone we saw “Ni kan” (You look) and showed them her shoes.

While we were shopping I mistakenly left Suhui with Tommy and Caleb in the toys while I went to pay for some clothes. We had passed some Teletubbies, and so she had been crying for one. But she wants everything she sees. So we told her that she could pick out a toy. The sales lady showed her some transformer toy.  I don’t know what made her think a little girl would like that. But of course Suhui wanted it once she saw it. In this store they write a receipt for what you want to buy, then you take it to a cashier to pay. Then you bring back the receipt stamped showing that you paid, and they give you your item. Tommy went to pay for the Transformer, and Suhui and I walked around in the toys. Because she was holding the toy, I didn’t want to leave this section til we paid for it. Another sales lady handed her a Hello Kitty telephone. So then Suhui wants that. She starts screaming for that. She already has two Disney princess telephones in the hotel room. So I wrestle the phone away from her. She screams the rest of the time until we leave the store. Tommy said when we left, “I don’t think we can take her toy shopping.”

Poor Caleb! One of his feet was hurting pretty bad. But we had to walk back several blocks to our hotel. He did get a cool remote control car at the toy department.

Our hotel is extremely nice. The service is excellent too. Our room is a wreck pretty much all the time with clothes and toys everywhere. When they clean it they even pick up all of our clothes laying around and fold them and put everything away neatly. I could get used to this. Maybe I need to bring one of them home with me. 🙂

Today we go to visit the orphanage. Our guide said that she would make sure that she explained to Suhui what we are doing. But I am sure it will still be a frightening for her. Hopefully, we will also get to see her finding spot.

Thanks everyone for all of the encouragement!

Eli and Caleb, we love you and can’t wait to talk to you on Skype in just a bit!

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This Is Hard

Okay, I need to whine a little. No one told us how hard this would be. Maybe we’re just wimps. But this is harder than I thought it would be. China is a fascinating country, and I would LOVE to visit it again with just Tommy or when our children are older. But trying to see China with a sad, homesick eight-year-old and a very clingy, demanding five-year-old is HARD.

So now that I have my daughter, I am ready to come home.

I’m tired of trying to communicate by pointing. Our guide has been great helping us with the adoption side. But we are pretty much on our own as far as finding food, finding a place to do our laundry, etc. NO ONE here speaks English. In Beijing, most of our hotel staff spoke English fairly fluently and many Chinese we met spoke some English. Here no speaks more than a few words. I am also tired of being stared at.

This morning our guide picked us up to go do more paperwork. On the way, the further we drove, the more Suhui clung to me and began wimpering. Our guide asked her what was wrong. Finally, our driver said that maybe she was afraid we were going to leave her. The guide asked her and that was what she was afraid of! Poor girl! Our guide told her that we were signing papers and assured her that she was leaving with us. Then Zoe taught us how to say, “I will not leave you.”

We found out that the director at her orphanage is a doctor. He was great with Suhui, playing and laughing with her. But she did not want him to hold her. Our guide said that she was afraid he was going to take her away from us.

We had to answer questions about why we want to adopt Suhui. Sign and fingerprint a bunch of papers, and then IT WAS OFFICIAL! Suhui is our daughter!!!

Her sweet hugs and kisses are somewhat overwhelming today. She will not let us get more than a few feet away from her before she screams for us to pick her up. This is pretty normal, but it is starting to drain us.

Plus, Caleb is having a hard time. He’s sad and homesick and is not getting to do anything very fun. We’ve been staying in the room alot because it is so hard to take Suhui anywhere, and we really don’t know where to go besides KFC, Pizza Hut, McDonalds, and Carrefour. (We went through our second bucket of KFC chicken today.) This afternoon Tommy occupied/distracted Suhui(which is quite a task) so that I could have a little time with Caleb. Then while Suhui was napping Tommy and Caleb went to the game room in our hotel. Caleb was grinning when they got back and said he had fun, so may he’s feeling better.

Yesterday we pretty much let Suhui do whatever she wanted within reason. Today we have started to set some boundaries and have experienced a few tantrums. We decided she needed to take a nap. Her daily schedule said that she has a nap. And we NEED her to take a nap whether she needs it or not. So Tommy made her lay down, and she cried and cried until she fell asleep.

And, you should know that Rachel is definitely a Mississippi girl! She LOVES watermelon! She got very excited when she saw it at the breakfast bar at our hotel and ate lots.

The breakfast bar is interesting and good. There are all kinds of American foods, bacon, sausage, waffles/pancakes, bagels, pastries, toast, eggs. Then there are Chinese foods, different kinds of noodles that they cook for you. Hot-dry noodles are a breakfast food of  Wuhan that we want to try. But their are four kinds of noodles served, so we have to figure out how to ask for the hot-dry noodles. There is also chicken, steamed dumplings, rice, a salad bar, cooked tomatoes, and stir-fry-type dishes. there were baked beans at the breakfast bar here and in Beijing. Yesterday I had fried banana for breakfast. Rachel also loved the bacon this morning, which is good but a bit different from our bacon.

A couple of other things: I know that many families take their children with them to adopt. I now have an opinion on this. I would not take any children unless they are a mature 12 or older. It is just too hard. Caleb is our adventurer. He can handle about anything, but this is just too different and difficult for him. Beijing was too cold for him to enjoy and know we’re mostly sitting in the hotel room.

Another thing is we heard that you can get anything here that you can get in the States. Good luck with that! Whatever you want may be available to buy, but good luck with finding it and identifying it as what you want.

Please pray for us as we adjust to our new daughter. Pray that she will soon realize that we are not going to ever leave her. Pray for Caleb, that he would be able to have some fun and would not be so homesick. And, of course, pray for our family back home.

We love you and miss you, Eli and Titus!

Suhui met Eli, Titus, Aunt Angie, and Granny this morning on Skype. She had just awakened and was not her usual talkative self, but she eventually yelled “Ni hao, Gege!” (Hello, big brother), waved to Titus(he’s still a little shy but stood behind that couch peeking over and waving), yelled “Zai jian, Popo!” (Bye bye Grandma), and “Xie xie, ayi”( Thank you , auntie) to Angie when we asked her to.

We’re about to all venture out for supper. I will get Tommy to post some photos and possibly video later. We have video of Suhui repeating ABCs after Tommy while he writes them on her magna doodle. She loves doing this and asks us to over and over. She can also say, “ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR!”

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