Count of Chicks for Children

God's Plan For Us

This is our journey - God's incredible plan for our lives. When we followed the moving of the Holy Spirit, He opened the windows of Heaven and poured out upon us blessings we never dreamed of! Indescribable joy!

" For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Nini is Home!!!!

Nini is home and doing well. Our biggest challenge is keeping her from doing too much ;-)
Thank you to all who prayed  for Nini during her hospital stay. We'd ask that you continue praying that the tethered cord release will take care of some of the problems she has been having. Blessings, cindy

Saturday, August 9, 2014

One day after tethered cord release

Today has been Nini's roughest day since we came into the hospital on Tuesday. She has complained about pain and threw up again. We've had quite a bit of tears. She is on a muscle relaxer, pain meds, nausea medicine, and antibiotics. It's a balancing act trying to decide whether she is having spasms or pain, and what to give when. Since she can't explain exactly what she's feeling (when you only have a year of English under your belt it's hard to describe what is going on) it makes it more difficult to know how to treat. As usual, the staff here at Kosair is wonderful and go above and beyond in making her as comfortable as possible. Her headache brought a visit from a doctor immediately because it can be a red flag that there are problems with spinal fluid leaking. All was well in that area thankfully.
Her best medicine came when her sisters came to visit. She hasn't seen any of them since Tuesday and that's been hard on her. Since she was in PICU until surgery yesterday, we haven't brought them up (we live an hour away from hospital). It's been especially difficult for her to be away from Ximi, and I've heard quite a bit about how much she misses Ximi. She's shed tears everyday for her.
When it was time to say goodbye, neither one wanted to leave the other, so we got permission for Ximi to stay up here with us. Since Ximi will be sharing the window seat with me, I'm hoping she has a good night sleep ;-)
Tomorrow morning the physical therapist will come and get her out of bed and walking. As long as there are no problems we'll get to go home tomorrow. Blessings, cindy

Our little Peanut Butter(Ximi) and Jelly (Nini)

Xiaoyun, Virgil, Nini, Ximi, Elli and Enya

Friday, August 8, 2014

Tethered cord release surgery

Nini's tethered cord release went well. She has had some pain and threw up once after she was back in the room. Her nurse said that every tethered cord release she has ever treated threw up afterwards. The doctor said that she could have muscle spasms and pain from incision.  It is now a wait and see as to whether her symptoms improve. It may be that they just don't get worse. There's just no way to know right now. She must remain flat for the next 24 hours. Continued thanks for the prayers!!
Aren't they beautiful with their shaved heads?!!!!! Taken 3 hours after surgery. Nini is so proud to have a haircut like her baba's.

The incision was in her lower back. About 1 1/2" long. She is laying on her side in this photo and the blue is where she was marked prior to beginning surgery.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Tethered cord release surgery tomorrow

Nini's pressure is good, which means no shunt. She will have surgery tomorrow morning at 9:00 for the tethered cord release. They will leave the EVD in until after the surgery. They will keep drain open during surgery so there is little risk of the Chiari causing any pressure issues during the surgery.

Nini was a trooper today. We went ahead and shaved the rest of her hair. There was just no way to make it look right without starting fresh. As I cut and shaved her hair, it was all I could do not to cry. There are little ones laying in the rooms all around Nini's that are battling cancer and are losing their hair because of that. It broke my heart to think of them and their parents. I cannot even imagine how difficult it must be for them.

After Nini's hair was cut (which, by the way, was harder than giving an eel a haircut!), I held her up to the mirror, half afraid she would be upset. She looked at it and said, "So pretty! I like my Baba haircut!"  (Virgil keeps his head shaved) She is such a sweetheart!!!! Of course, the nurses who were in here and I were bragging about how beautiful she is, and it is so true- both inside and out!

The hospital gave us some knitted caps and headbands that people had donated. If you happen to be one who makes these hats - THANK YOU!!! They are cute and just perfect for little girls who have no hair.

Continued thanks for all the prayers!!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Nini- Ventriculomegaly/hydrocephelus, tethered cord, Chiari 1 Malformation, Cerebral Palsy

I wanted to share what is going on with Nini in the hope that it will be an encouragement for someone who has adopted or is considering adopting a child with the same issues. There is a lot of unknowns when you adopt and if our journey through Nini's treatment can help someone else, that would be wonderful! I knew NOTHING about any of Nini's conditions until we found out she had them. It is a learning process, and as you will be able to tell from my very basic descriptions, I have no medical background.
Nini had surgery yesterday to insert an External Ventricular Drain to see if she has hydrocephalus or ventriculomegaly. In simplified terms (the kind I need!), they are trying to decide if she still has pressure inside the skull (hydrocephalus) or if there was pressure in the past but only enlarged ventricles now (ventriculomegaly). A scan didn't show any pressure, but she needs to have a tethered cord release (if you think of the spinal cord as a rubber band, it should look like it would if band was held in your hand. When it is tethered it is like taking that rubber band and pulling it taut. Somewhere in the lower area of her spine,  her cord is being pulled). If she had a tethered cord release and there was pressure in her brain, it could be extremely dangerous. Thus, they put the drain in yesterday and will monitor it for 48 hours. If the EVD shows pressure, she will have a shunt inserted on Friday. If there is no pressure, she will have a tethered cord release on Friday.

Her EVD surgery: bur two holes in skull, insert small tube in one and bring out through other hole. Close the first hole up with a few stitches. The tubing is attached to a drain/monitor. They open two valves in tubing up, once an hour, to measure for pressure. The number needs to be under 20, and so far the highest its been is 12. While the valves are open she needs to remain in the same position until closed again.

That surgery went well. She did end up with a really bad haircut. I haven't had the heart to tell her yet. She loved her beautiful hair, and until recently, it was very long. I haven't decided what we will do about her hair after the stitches heal, but am thinking it will be short for quite a while and she will have lots of hats if she wants them.

Nini also has a Chiari 1 malformation. The cerebellum has 'tonsils' that are located above the spinal cord. Some people's tonsils hang down further than they should and it hinders the flow of the spinal fluid. This has caused neck aches, gagging, and loss of muscle coordination for Nini. Right now it is a wait and see whether she will have to have surgery for this in the future.

She's slept well last night and has done well today. The next surgery will be Friday morning. We appreciate your prayers!!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

"You're a good Mama. You're a very, very, very, very, very good Mama.  You're the best Mama to me."

Truly, can there be any sweeter words to a mama's ears?

For some reason Ximi has started saying this to me every night when I tuck her into bed. She wraps her arms around me, pulls me down so that our faces are almost touching and says those sweet words. Then she hugs me tight and gives me kisses.

 Moments like this are little treasures that I tuck into my heart and will pull back out through the years.

When she's a teenager and going through the dreaded teenage angst, I will remember these words.

 When she moves away from home for college or job, I will remember these words.

When she's grown and has children of her own I will remember these words.

And one day, when I'm old and perhaps my memories fail me, I hope and pray she will still whisper these words to me...


“You're the best Mama to me!”

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Love in the darkness

In the darkest times, love shines brightest...

Brice's (our nephew) funeral was attended by about a thousand people. Many more were able to watch it over the internet. Our city is not large, but the outpouring of love was. It has been amazing to see the caring of so many in the face of difficulties. Our daughter, Emily, said there were over 29,000 people who viewed the facebook page that was set up to keep people updated about Brice while he was in the hospital. Tonya and David have meals coming to them for weeks.
David (Brice and Brianna's dad) got up and spoke at Brice's funeral. He set his alarm and a few minutes into his talk, the alarm went off. He did that to make a good point- we live our life around time. We hurry up when we should slow down and enjoy. He encouraged us all to take the time to do that. To not rush life but live in the moment. Not always planning and forgetting to live.

These past few weeks have been challenging for us, but also a challenge as well.

 It has made me and Virgil pause and think about what we are doing to show love to others. We have seen the love shown not only to Tonya and David, but also to us. Many friends helped with the girls while we sat up at the hospital. They brought us food, hung out with the girls and prayed, prayed, prayed. They were there for whatever we needed. People came to the hospital with meals for all of us who were there. They put thought into what they brought. a cooler filled with drinks, yogurts, fruit and cheese; money to pay for parking; quarters for the soda machine; envelopes (many anonymously) with cash inside; gift cards for gas, pizza, etc.; lotion and chapstick and toothbrushes (Brice's accident happened at night and they had nothing with them for the first day or so); baskets filled with snacks, mints, tissues; the list goes on and on. There were people who came to the hospital who knew none of us but felt compelled to come and pray with the family. Teenagers and young adults who had known Brice sat or stood in the hallway and waiting room for hours and hours. Not asking anything in return. Just wanting to be there.

It has been a bright spot.

Tangible, visible acts of caring and concern.

So many acts of love.

So many things to remind us to look for ways to help others.

To be a blessing just like the people who have crossed our paths these last three weeks have been a blessing to us.

To stop letting the clock (and the distractions of this world) dictate how we live and love others.

Virgil and I have decided to sit down this week and write out the ways we as a family are going to be intentional in being love in the darkness. Ways we can show Christ's love to others who are hurting. So many times we get caught up in the chaos of 'life' and forget how many around us need a little light in their dark times. We want to be blessing to others like we have been blessed.


Monday, July 7, 2014

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away

I have shed a million tears in the last two weeks.

Two phone calls-one week apart -at almost the same time of night-changed our family's life forever.

Two weeks ago today, our 17 year old niece, Brianna, died from injuries sustained when a drunk driver ran a stop sign and slammed into her car.(the other girl in her car, Mickayla, is still fighting for her life) She had graduated high school only a couple of weeks before. The visitation went for 11 hours- without a lull. They finally had to close the doors. Throughout it all, her brother, Brice, was David and Tonya's  shoulder to lean on.(Tonya is Virgil's little sister) Brice got up and spoke at the funeral. He was strong for his parents when I am sure that all he wanted to do was grieve himself. Brice and Brianna were very close. More so than most siblings I know.

Even as I type this, I have a hard time telling - or believing- what happened next.

A week after Brianna was hit, some friends were holding a small gathering to remember her. The house  was just down the street from David and Tonya's. On the way home, Brice,  (their only remaining child) hit a deer that had run out in front of him. He was thrown from his ATV and suffered traumatic brain injuries. His parents were right behind him and watched it all happen. The same pilot that had flown  his sister to the trauma hospital in Louisville, picked Brice up and took him.

 Family and friends kept vigil by his bed, praying for a miracle. Praying for healing.

God chose to heal Brice by taking him on to Heaven. He died July 5.

This morning they will go to the same funeral home where they went two weeks ago and choose yet another coffin. Make another set of funeral arrangements. They will place their other child in the grave this Wednesday - one day before he would have turned 21, and two days before Brianna would have turned 18.

I know the hurt I have, and I know that my pain is nothing compared to theirs. They have shed a billion tears and will continue to shed them in the years to come. As David said, they had so many plans. So many things they were looking forward to. Now there will be no college graduations, no wedding plans, no grandchildren....

Throughout this time David and Tonya have displayed a faith that many will never understand. They have comforted the very ones who came to comfort them. I watched them as the people came through the line at Brianna's visitation.
 They did not rush them through.
They stood up there by the coffin THE ENTIRE TIME.
They hugged and cried with each one who came to pay their respects.

I watched them this past week at the hospital.
Comforting family and friends.
Taking time to speak with strangers who had heard their story and wanted to offer their condolences or pray with them.
Getting to know those who were caring for Brice. Hugging everyone who came into the room.

Every nurse who had Brice cried with the family. Most of the doctors who came through were crying as well.

Brianna's injuries kept her organs from being donated, but they were able to donate Brice's. We know  several people were given the gift of life through their generosity.

Brice would be pleased.       

 He was a giving person.           

He learned that from his parents.

The great comfort that we all have in this, is the fact that both Brice and Brianna had given their life to the Lord. They believed Christ died on the cross for their sins, was in the grave for three days, then rose again and is sitting at the right hand of God. Their Savior was there to welcome them both into Heaven - home for them now, and one day home for all of us who believe. We know that one day we who believe will see Brice and Brianna again. God comforts us with that thought and that promise.
God has sustained David and Tonya - and indeed all of us- through this dark time. We know He holds each tear we cry and we know He loves and cares for us.

The book of Job in the Old Testament talks about a man who lost all his children. When he was told the news that they had all been killed at the same time his comment was:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:21
We know that through Brianna's death 4 people accepted Christ as their Savior. We pray many more will believe through the testimony of faith that is being shown during this time. We will continue to praise His name!!
Brice and Brianna


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Gotcha/Family Days and Birthdays

April and May have been exciting and busy months around here. Elli and Enya were baptized Easter Sunday, which was precious indeed. Afterwards, the family all came to our house for dinner. There is nothing the girls love more than having extended family gathering together.
                                             Enya's baptism

April 26 we celebrated Enya’s 3rd gotcha day. She is such a joy, with a big heart and a bubbly personality. She continues to operate on one speed- full speed ahead ;-). She and Ximi have gotten to where they will spend hours playing with Pet Shop toys. She believes everyone should operate on the same playing field. Injustices of any sort (real or perceived) get her very upset. What an advocate for a hurting world she could be one day!
 April 28 was Xiaoyun’s 3rd Family Day (she prefers calling it that instead of Gotcha). She continues to do well with her back recovery. She has decided she would like to go to public school this fall. She said she knows she needs to be pushed more academically, but doesn’t want me to be the one pushing, she wants me to just ‘be her mama’.


 May 4th we celebrated Elli’s 4th Gotcha Day. She is so different than the little girl who screamed and cried for more than two hours on the day we welcomed her into our family. She is like a caterpillar who has become a beautiful butterfly right before our eyes. She is quickly becoming a young woman and leaving her little girl ways behind. She loves to read, especially anything relating to animals. She enjoys learning, and amazes us with all the info she can remember. She’s wonderful with Melody, and a great helper with her little sisters.
May 8th was Ximi’s 6th birthday, and first birthday to celebrate with her family. Since she was adopted a few weeks after her birthday, she has had to watch almost everyone else celebrate theirs, so she was very excited when her big day (more like a birthday week-lol) finally arrived. She had a great day, and we did as well! She is a little pixie. She ‘gets’ jokes quickly, and will laugh and laugh. She loves to color and draw, as well as play with little toys. She can spend hours playing with blocks. If you didn’t see her eyes, you would never know she was vision impaired. It is truly incredible how well she gets around and does things. Her ‘special needs’ have proven to be minor with her can-do attitude.
Mother’s Day is always a special day for me, but this one was extra sweet. How could it not be with so many wonderful children and grandchildren? God has blessed me- a girl whose dream when she was young was to be a mother- and allowed me to spend my days doing what I love to do.

As mentioned in a previous post, we celebrated Xiaoyun’s birthday May 15. One of the highlights of the girls’ birthdays is getting to go on a date with Baba (Virgil). Xiaoyun enjoyed a night out with Virgil at a Thai restaurant.

May 20 we celebrated Nini’s 1st Gotcha day. To think that a year ago I was sitting in a hotel in Nanchang updating the blog, seems a bit unreal. Nini and Ximi seem like they have been home forever.  One of my favorite things about Nini is how she stands at the window and waves whenever anyone leaves the house. Even if I forget to wave (something I generally do when a family member drives away) Nini can always be counted on. She is the most complementary person I know. I’m pretty sure she has told me “you’re so cute Mama!” more times in this past year than everyone else has in my entire life J . She always tells me how good the supper is. She has made great strides with her physical therapy the past year. Her strength and coordination continue to improve daily.
May 26 we celebrated Ximi’s 1st Gotcha, and rounded out a month long celebration of birthdays and forever days. It is hard for me to fathom that they have all come home in the last four years. Four years ago we didn’t have any pitter patter around our house. No hair bows, dress-up clothes, dolls, princess pink (and purple) bedrooms. We recently had our post placement visit from the social worker, and even she is surprised by how well they have done individually, and also how well they have bonded as sisters. God has truly blessed and worked in miraculous ways in our lives and He continues to do so everyday.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Xiaoyun -birthday and surgery update

Happy birthday Xiaoyun!!! Today we celebrate Xiaoyun's 17th birthday, which means 3 years ago yesterday she landed in the US and began her new life with our family . What a blessing she has been! Not just to our family, but to people around the world. Her chicken campaign (Xiaoyun's Chicks for Children) has raised over $46000 so far, she's been featured in our local newspaper, been asked to speak to youth groups, and the video she made (after being home a few months) encouraging people to adopt (Xiaoyun Speaks) has been watched by over 22000 people!!!! All in the last three years. Who knows what other plans the Lord has for this precious girl as she becomes an adult! (If you've never considered an older child adoption, we pray Xiaoyun would motivate you to look into the possibility)
She is recovering well after her surgery. Her biggest issue has been a reaction to either the tape or  one of the medications, which has caused a rash and itching. We've been pleasantly surprised by how much she is getting around already. Of course, this also means I am constantly reminding her to not overdo ;-)
Thank you to each of you who have prayed for her, even before she became a part of our family!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Update on rod replacement surgery

Xiaoyun is doing better today. She had a rough night, (up until 2:00 am) mainly from vomiting, then a medication she was given kicked in and helped her sleep. She got a private room today, and we were both so happy for the quiet. Since she did have problems with nausea, they kept her on a pain pump until a short while ago. She did get up and walk a bit this afternoon, and unless she has a setback tonight, we will get to go home tomorrow. She will not need a brace. Thank you for all the prayers!!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Xiaoyun's surgery

Xiaoyun's surgery was today. We had hoped that it would only be a broken rod. However, once in there they discovered that a small area hadn't fused. They did a bone graft in that area, replaced her rod with an 'extra strength' rod, and put a drain tube in.  They put in a rod that had a gentler curve to it. Since the bone didn't fuse, she will have a 5-6 month recovery. No bending, twisting, or lifting. The surgeon said she wouldn't have to have a brace, but it was put on the orders, so we'll find out tomorrow if she'll have a brace again for a while. Her attitude was good prior to surgery, and she said she wasn't worried. She's still pretty out of it right now. We'll spend a night in PICU, then hopefully be home by Friday.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Our Newest Grandbaby

                                                        Zak, Zayden, Zeza, and Mandy

Our newest grandbaby, Zayden, was born Friday. He weighed 9 lbs and was 22in long!!! I think everyone was surprised by how big he was  ;-) . He and momma and are doing great. We are so glad we were able to make a quick trip down to see them before Xiaoyun's surgery (though Xiaoyun had to stay home with Emily, since the trip would have been painful.) He is precious and we're thankful he is here!!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tears for Xiaoshui and all those that wait

I held my granddaughter and cried last night.

 I have found out that Xiaoshui no longer has a family coming to get her. It has broken my heart. We have been praying for her for a while now.

As I looked down at my grandbaby, I shed tears for Xiao, and tears for all the other children out there who wait.

 I shed tears of sadness because Xiao will crawl on the floor and drag that leg around for the rest of her life- unless someone steps forward to open their hearts and home to her.

I shed tears for the millions of other little ones who are suffering and alone around the world.

I shed tears because it isn’t possible for us to bring her home.

I shed tears of frustration that there aren’t more that are saying yes to adoption and orphan care. (And yes, I realize that not all are called to adopt, but I also know that there are many more that should/ could that haven’t)

I shed tears because every child should be held and rocked and cared for and LOVED like the little one I was holding in my arms.

I told Virgil that I wish this concern were precious oil that I could rub on my hands, and as I went about my day, I could touch the hands of those I pass by and they would feel it too.

 Not just feel it, but    DO     SOMETHING      ABOUT          IT.

 That the sweet fragrance of this oil would permeate hearts and move people to action.

That people would no longer just be satisfied with “safe”.

They would step out of their comfort zones.

That they would discover love like they have never seen before – the love of a child who has waited years to have a mom and dad, and family to love. It too, is a precious oil that should be shared.

I have posted before about Xiao. Please look at that post.  (September 2013)  Pass it on. I’ve been told there is a doctor in Baltimore who specializes in repairing the type of leg Xiao has.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Another surgery for Xiaoyun

Xiaoyun has been complaining about her back hurting for a little while now. We thought it was just changes in weather and perhaps a little growing spurt. However, it got worse, so we went in for an x-ray. Below is a pic of her broken rod. Xiaoyun and I both had a good cry when we saw it. I really hate it that she has to go through more pain, and she is dreading the process. They did a CT to make sure the bones had fused. It does appear that they have. The surgeon thinks that since she doesn't have rods in her neck, that the movement put some stress on the rod and it eventually snapped. (the break is right in the curve of her rod) When she had the original surgery, they had tried to put hooks in the upper lumbar area, but the bone had crumbled so there was only one hook in the upper area. They will go in and scrape that area and visually check to make sure it has fused. If it has, they will put two more hooks in the upper area, graft around them, and replace the rod. If they find it has not fused, they will take bone from somewhere else on her spine to graft the non-fused area, then add two hooks and replace rod. The hospital stay will be about 3 days regardless. However, the recovery will be longer if it didn't fuse. Her surgery will be next Wednesday, April 30.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Elli and Enya- Believers!!!!

In the midst of handwriting and math, sitting at the kitchen table, Elli and Enya both decided to ask Jesus to be their savior. It was a joyful moment and we are thanking God that they have made the most important decision of their lives. Fittingly, they will be baptized Easter Sunday. Praising God for answered prayers!!!!!!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Triple Blessings!!!

A Triple Blessing


We are expecting two more grandbabies!! In the span of 8 months we will welcome not one, not two, but THREE grandchildren into our family. Melody was born in January, Zak and Mandy are due in May (A boy!! Will he be spoiled or what?!!!), and Zeb and Dana are expecting their first in September (We find out gender in April). My heart can barely contain all the joy!!!! That will bring us to 4 grandchildren (Zeza is 4 years old), and we couldn’t be happier!! The girls are thrilled to be Aunties, and they have all done well with Melody.

                                                               Zeb and Dana's announcement

Zak and Mandy's little one - Zayden
Mandy, Zeza and Zak
This is how much Melody loves her Poppers (Virgil)

Friday, January 31, 2014

Our new grandbaby

I am blessed!! There is no other way to describe it. I had the privilege of being present at the birth of my second granddaughter. It seems to me, I was giving birth to Emily only yesterday, and then  I turned around and she was all grown up and having a baby of her own. Of course, my little Melody Noelle is absolutely beautiful and this Nana couldn't be prouder :-)

Monday, January 27, 2014

To the person who commented about taking a child away from a loving foster family

I’d like to answer the person who commented about taking a child away from a loving foster family. Below is the comment that was left on our blog:

“I am so wanting to adopt but why would they pull a child from a loving foster family, who had the privilege of going to a boarding school and was obviously surrounded by so much love? Somehow this seems counterproductive and cruel. I guess the medical treatment makes US adoption a better option, but at what cost? Not wanting to be negative but my heart breaks for these kids.”

I’ve struggled with what I should say in reply. Since I cannot pretend to know the hearts of other children waiting, I will talk about what I do know – our family and how Xiaoyun, our daughter (adopted days before she turned 14) feels. Xiaoyun and I discussed this and I have her permission to share.

Xiaoyun did have foster parents who loved her. She was with them for more than 9 years. They were the only parents she can remember. They have two biological children who are older. She went to a boarding school because there were no good schools nearby, and the orphanage paid for her boarding. She came home on the weekends. It is common in her area to be sent to boarding school- she lived in a city of millions of people. If you were a good student, the orphanage would send you. Boarding school might sound a little more glamorous than it was- at least for Xiaoyun. While she did have friends there, almost all were orphans like she was. There was a distinction between the kids with families and those that were orphans. The teachers treated them differently, and Xiaoyun was subjected to ridicule by many of the kids who weren’t orphans. Having an obvious medical issue, as well as being an orphan made her a target for cruel kids.

Taking her from foster parents who loved her does seem cruel, but just because they loved her, didn’t mean that all the extended family did. She is close to her foster parent’s son, but there were others who weren’t kind to a girl with a different last name. When Xiaoyun is older, even when both Virgil and I have passed away, she will still have a large group of family and friends who will always be here to love her and encourage her. Last week she held her new niece in her arms. Soon she’ll hold a newborn nephew as well. She knows that there will always be family to call on in times of trouble, to share laughs with, to hold her when she cries, to rejoice with her triumphs and lift her up when she fails. She will have a baba to walk her down the aisle, a mama to hold her when that boy she’s crazy about breaks her heart (and big brothers to make sure he doesn’t do it again!), and sisters- so many sisters!!!- to share her secrets with, dance around with, and just enjoy being in each other’s company.. She has been taught crochet by her great-grandmother, shares special memories with her grandmother who traveled to China with me when we adopted,  been taken shopping and out to eat with uncles and aunts, joked with cousins around the ‘kids table’ at family dinners, and the list goes on and on. She would not have had any of this if she’d stayed in China.

Yes, medical care was an issue for Xiaoyun in China. Her spine was so twisted that her lungs are permanently damaged. She will probably be on asthma medication the rest of her life. However, since she was able to have the surgeries, her heart is not going to suddenly stop because of the stress put on it due to compression. She can get whatever care she needs here. Also, it would have been difficult for her to have found a good job in China. If she could have gotten past the stigma of being an orphan, her physical limitations would still have caused her to have few options. Here in the States, there are so many opportunities – from where she can go to college to what type of job she will have (BTW- she wants to be a translator and work with families adopting).

There are so many other things I could add, but the biggest is the fact that she was able to hear that Jesus loves her, to read the Bible for herself, and accept Christ as her Savior. She can freely worship as she chooses-important for a person from a country where religion is severely restricted.

Older children have a choice about whether or not they want to be adopted. They must sign the paperwork just like we do.  We are thankful Xiaoyun wanted a permanent family- a Forever Family. We love this precious jewel and it’s evident that she loves us. That’s what a family is all about.

*I do not want to imply that Xiaoyun’s adoption was without struggles. There were tears shed, and frustrating moments for both Xiaoyun and us. It is a difficult thing to leave all you are familiar with and begin again. To learn to trust people who were strangers, and could not understand not only your language, but also your way of life. Xiaoyun has handled it with grace and maturity far beyond her years.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Vegetable soup and Lalaloopsy=LOVE

At first glance, neither soup or a doll would have anything to do with love. But our girls teach us much about love everyday, and these are just two of many, many examples.
Most of my family lives in Alabama, and the girls love going to visit. (I am blessed that my maternal grandparents and parents are still living.) My grandmother fixes me vegetable soup almost every time we go, and I really enjoy it. Xiaoyun, however, is NOT a veggie soup lover, so I was a little surprised when we were dipping up the bowls, that she said she wanted one. (We had other food there because I knew she didn't like it). She proceeded to eat not one, but THREE bowls of the soup. I assumed that she had tried it to be polite, and ended up liking it a lot. Not until we were heading back to Kentucky, did I find out the truth. I mentioned the soup to her (preparing to tease her about the fact her taste buds were changing), and she told me she still didn't like the soup. When I asked her why she'd eaten so much of something she didn't like, she said, "Mamaw made the soup for us, and after I ate the first bowl, I could tell it made her happy, so I kept eating." How many teenagers are going to eat something they don't like because they love their grandmother so much they don't want to make them feel bad? Maybe one bowl, but three? Not many I'm guessing.
The other example is Virgil's 'Pearl' (his nickname for Enya, after the scripture that talks about the pearl of great price). Enya had surgery today (another lip revision), and one of the nurses asked her what was her favorite Christmas present. She said it was Lalaloopsy. Emily had gotten her the Lalaloopsy doll for Christmas and two days later we went to Alabama (where our son, daughter-in-law, and our granddaughter Zeza also live) Zeza is 4 yrs old and really loved playing with her 'China babies' as she calls the girls. When we were loading up the car to head back to home, Enya handed her doll to Zeza. Zak and Mandy tried to give it back to her, but she insisted that she wanted Zeza to have it. Again, how many kids would give up their favorite Christmas present just days after getting it?
Loving and generous girls. What a blessing they all are!!!!!!

BTW- Enya's surgery went well. The hard part will be keeping her still for a couple weeks, until those stitches come out ;-)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

There is something about a Baba and his girls

  As you can tell from these photos, all the girls are crazy about their Baba!!!! These photos were made at a friends wedding, except for the last two. We volunteered to ring the bell one Saturday. The girls loved it and they were quite the hit with those who passed by. Eva really got into the swing of it. By the time we were halfway through, she was taking the money out of people's hands and putting it into the kettle (even when the people weren't necessarily wanting to donate that much - LOL!!!) The last photo was of all the girls except Em (who had to work), one Sunday before Christmas.


 Christmas was so much fun. There is something about that first Christmas home that is magical. We opened stockings Christmas Eve, and as Virgil said, we could have stopped there and they would have been happy. Christmas morning our oldest son, Zeb, and wife Dana, came over to share the excitement. We had our Christmas get together with Virgil's family the next day, and then went to visit some of our Alabama family (to include our wonderful grandbaby, Zeza!!). What a great week! Somehow we managed to stay awake New Year's Eve (except the two youngest), and started
                                                                                    the year with hugs and kisses all around.

                                                                                         A great way to end and begin a year!!!!

Family pics

 A few photos of some of my family at Christmas.

Almost all the girls in the family

Me (Nana) and my beautiful granddaughter, Zeza
My daughters-in-law, Dana and Mandy, and my mom, Wanda

A Mama and her boys (Zeb and Zak)
Zeb, Zak, and Virgil

Monday, December 23, 2013

Catching up with pictures

Since I'm so far behind in updates, I'll catch up with a few photos. In October we celebrated Eliza's first birthday since coming home (6 yrs old) and Elli's birthday (she's finally double digits!). As usual, being surrounded by family and friends was the highlight of the birthdays.
Eva lost her first tooth (unfortunately not voluntarily, but necessary) and it wasn't long afterwards that Eliza announced her first tooth was gone. We searched the area where she was sitting, looking for the tooth, only to realize she had swallowed it!!!
We went to visit my family in Alabama - Eliza and Eva's first time- and the girls enjoyed getting to know my side of the family. Eva made a special connection with my grandmother, and we came to the conclusion that there was something about my grandmother that reminded her of someone in China. Would love to know more about that, but both the girls are in the in-between stage of their language. They still understand what Xiaoyun says to them in Chinese, but they rarely say anything in Chinese beyond a word here or there. However, the English is not yet strong enough to convey many things in-depth.
Thanksgiving was at Zeb and Dana's (our oldest son and daughter-in-law), and it was truly a day to be thankful. We have been so blessed! To see the girls being loved on by family, when such a short time ago none of them had a family, is beyond anything I can explain in words.
And now I come to Christmas. Always a magical time of the year for me (I'm still a little girl at heart!), and it gets more magical with each passing year. I will never forget how Elli acted when we drove through our local park, decorated with lights, for the first time after she came home. Virgil still says that if anyone had been in our car, they would have started adoption paperwork the next day. It was such an exciting thing to witness her excitement and wonder of all those lights and decorations. This year was no different. Eliza and Eva oohed and aahed throughout the entire drive through the park (the other girls did too!) In the midst of all that joy, I found myself crying- partly from thankfulness that we have been allowed to share this life with our wonderful children, but it was tinged with sadness for all those kids who are still alone. Those who will never sit at the Thanksgiving table surrounded by people who love them. Those who will never sing at the top of their lungs in the kids Christmas play at the church (Enya). Those who will never wake up Christmas morning (or any morning) and listen to their baba read the Christmas story out of Luke 2. Those who will never be held by great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, or a baba and mama. It makes me thankful for those who have come home, but I grieve for those who still wait.
In the middle is our grandbaby Zeza, who was in for a visit


Eva and Eliza
Eva and Eliza on Eliza's birthday

 Elli and Eliza's birthday party
                                        Enya with her great-grandmother - Mamaw Blalock
The girls with Papaw Chuck (my dad) and great uncle Gary
Elli and Mamaw Wanda
Zeb, Dana, and Xiaoyun

Thursday, September 5, 2013

To the family asking about Xiao and a little more information about her

THANK YOU for asking!!! I am praying God makes clear the path you should go. I am rejoicing about even the possibility that soon she could have a family!!!!! Below is another video of her. If anyone does decide to welcome her into their family, I would love to know. I have a household of little girls praying for her, and would be so grateful to be able to tell them their prayers have been answered. Blessings, Cindy

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Please help her find her family!!!!

Our agency has a little girl on their special focus group who has stolen my heart! I have no idea how many people this blog will reach, but I wanted to post about her on the off chance that somebody might fall in love with a beautiful child who waits for a home. When our agency posted about her in their Jing Yi files, I watched a video of her being examined by a doctor who went over with our agency to help get the files of several little ones ready for adoption. The video showed her playfully reaching for her nanny's hair and she had the cutest smile. I fell in love right then. I would love to help her find her forever family. I realize that there will be hurdles ahead for her- she has knee valgus, and uses a walker or crawls. I have no idea if she can have surgery to correct the problems with her leg. But, I can't help but think there has to be someone out there who isn't scared by the thought that she may be wheelchair bound- someone who falls in love with a precious girl, and is willing to get her any help she needs. If you are considering adopting - or know anyone who is- please look at her file and videos, and pass the info on- you never know who will see her picture and file and change a child's life forever!!

BTW- her name is Xiao. Our agency is waiving their adoption fees. I'm praying she'll soon feel the love of a family!


Xiao is a beautiful 7 year old girl with knee valgus and incontinence. She appears to have had some type of spinal surgery prior to coming to the orphanage at 10 months of age. She was also diagnosed with hydrocephaly when first admitted; however doctors believed that there was no need to do surgery because the fluid would resolve over time. Since then her head circumference has been getting smaller and smaller. She had shown delays in language and mental development, but she has been improving every day.

She can take care of herself, crawls and can walk some by leaning on the railing. She is described as lively and cheerful and likes to sing while her best friend dances. Her caretakers say she is smart, polite and likes to give them a warm hug when they come to work. You can see recent videos of her at:

Xiao is designated as Special Focus and is part of our Jing Yi program.  All FTIA agency fees will be waived for Xiao’s adoptive family.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Summer's End

School has begun! Wedged in with doctor's visits and medical tests, we have started our school year this week. This has been a bit trickier, since there are more lessons to juggle and more girls to care for. Our biggest challenge has been medical details. In the last two weeks, we've had two MRI 's, EEG, growth hormone stimulation test, exploratory eye procedure, tubes in ears, tonsils removed, ear infection, fingernail infection, physical therapy, endocrinology appointment,  ENT appointment. The great news is that the results back so far are all good! Don't need to go back to endocrinology , Enya's feeling much better almost two weeks after tubes for ears, and tonsils removed, antibiotics are working, and the big news is that Eva's pressure is good in her eyes and her optic nerve looks good-thank you Lord! As unbelievable as it seems, the girls have all maintained an incredible attitude , and haven't complained through it all. It never ceases to amaze me. Most of the appointments are an hour's drive from home. Not one bit of whining. We could have looked the world over, and not found kids so easy going about whatever comes their way. As I write, I am waiting for Eliza to come out of sedation. She just finished having her MRI. Lili came with us, and has just kept herself occupied in the room for the last 3 hours. Amazing Girl's!!!

A little girl waiting-True

I have a friend who is advocating for a little girl with scoliosis. I can tell you that scoliosis is a vey manageable 'special need'. Xiaoyun 's scoliosis is considered a severe case, yet it doesn't slow her down. She's your typical teenage girl. Yes, she will always be petite, will deal with lung restriction, and need to find a car (one day!) that accommodates her tiny stature, but for us, it's been no big deal. The surgeries were rough, but she kept a great attitude. Please take a minute and read about 10 year old True! Below is a link to Annie's site and information on True. I'd be glad to speak with anyone who wants to know about our experience with scoliosis.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


The girls with my mom

                                           LiLi and Eva getting a birds-eye view at the zoo.
The girls at the zoo.

This is how the crew looks after spending an entire day at the amusement/water park. It was hot, but the girls had a blast. Our oldest son and daughter-in-law went with us. The girls loved the rides, and I know it will be a day they won't forget! I wish I'd gotten a picture at the beginning of the day so we could compare ;-) .

Our summer is almost gone, and I'm not sure where it went! Soon we will be back to the kitchen table with our school books, but for now we're enjoying a little less structured days. Our vacation this year is consisting of trips to the zoo, swimming, a trip to Holiday World (thanks to a very kind person who gave us tickets!), visiting with family and friends, and just a lot of play time for all the girls. They continue to amaze me with how well they have adapted to their new life!