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

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Acorns

Who would have thought acorns could be used to create a masterpiece?
Our incredibly imaginative girls did.

 For weeks now, Virgil and I have fought a losing battle with our oak tree. It hangs over the driveway and has rained down more acorns (thanks to an industrious squirrel) than we've ever seen before. If they were just falling in the yard it would not be a big deal, but since they fall on the drive, it creates a hazard for walking (think walking on marbles). With one child who has an unsteady gait and another who is visually impaired, it gets even trickier.
So Virgil has been continuously getting rid of acorns that have become a thorn in our side.

That is until the girls got involved.

What we saw as a nuisance, they saw as beauty in the making.

They were outside playing one day, when they called for me to come out and look.

They had gathered up those acorns and used them to 'draw' a picture of their Baba and Mama. Above it they had used acorns to write 'I love you Mama and Baba'.
This may sound like a proud mama ;-) but I thought that was pretty incredible.
The girls remind me over and over to look through the eyes of a child.
 To see the joy and wonder God gives us each day.
To think outside the box.
To stop complaining about inconveniences, and start turning those moments around and finding good in them.
To enjoy the simple things I often overlook in my haste.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Living in an Upside-Down World

We live in an upside-down world.

Why is it, that when you tell someone you’re adopting, you MANY TIMES get either a negative response or an indifferent one?

If I was telling someone I was buying a new car, moving to a new house, my husband was getting a promotion, a raise, or even won a trip in some give-away, they’d be excited.

But telling people you’re adopting usually seems to go something like this:

“Really? How many will that make?”

 “How in the world are you going to pay for that?”

“You’re a little old for that..”

“Are you sure you have thought this through?”

“Where in the world are you going to put them?”

“Don’t you think you have enough?”


There are also the looks of surprise, the looks that say we’re crazy, the long pause on the other end of the phone while they try to think of something to say, etc.

I usually move on without answering the questions, or give a quick answer, and try to change the subject. But today my heart wants to say what it is feeling.

How many -This will make me the mother of NINE children. Three are now grown, but I am fully aware that I have five at home and adding one more will make six.

Paying for it- We have been married 31 years. We have paid our bills on time – every time- by God’s grace Virgil has held a steady job throughout our marriage. We didn’t have much money when first married, and we learned quickly to budget. Though the pay has increased, our desire to live on a budget, and within our means, has remained. We do not have a lot of debt and we try to be good stewards of the money God gives us. God has provided in different ways for our other adoptions, and since He is calling us to do this, we know He’ll continue to be faithful in providing.

Besides all that – I am almost 50 years old and Virgil will soon be 52. We are not children who haven’t considered the financial part of things.

Also, since I am on the subject of age-
Yes, I am quite aware of my age. I realize that as our children grow into adulthood, that I may not be around to hold their children. Even so, I HAVE HELD MY CHILDREN, and they in turn will know how to love and nurture their own. None of us is guaranteed another day on this earth. For as long as I am here, I will love and encourage my children, and when I am gone, they will still have a large extended family that will continue to love them.

Thinking it through- We have thought this through more times than you can imagine. We have looked at all the facets, counted all the costs (I’m not just talking financial), and prayed over this decision for a while. This is not a flippant decision made on a whim. We are fully aware of the changes this will make. After all, we are the ones living it. We aren’t new to adopting, and we’re not new to children with special needs. I am the one who cares for the kids every day, takes them to every doctor appointment, sits through every surgery, wipes away the tears, fixes every meal, and washes every piece of clothing a family of our size goes through in a day. I am not wearing rose-colored glasses.

Room for another- our newest daughter will share a bedroom with her sisters that are almost the same age. I’d venture to guess that many other people shared bedrooms growing up and turned out fine. We’re probably one of the very few countries in the world that have such large houses for so few people. A smaller house allows us to be together more. We make efficient use of the space we have.

Enough kids- When I was growing up, I planned on having 3 kids. That held true for many years. But God had other plans. If you came to our house, you would see joyful children who love life. If you asked them, they would tell you they are LOVED. In many cultures a large family is a blessing. In our home, A LARGE FAMILY IS A BLESSING!!!!!!!

How many is enough? However many God says is enough. He now sets the number for the size of our household. Granted, our girls may not be able to do dance lessons, take lots of trips, or a plethora of other things kids in a smaller household could afford to do, but at the end of life, they will be able to say that we introduced them to God, tried to be a godly example for them, and encouraged them to live life fully.

Let’s also remember that if they hadn’t been adopted, they would never have had those opportunities either, and I can guarantee that those aren’t the things they were wanting.


Which leads me to the why- When I am asked “why?” what I want to reply back with is

 Why not open our hearts and homes to a child who has waited years for love? Why not spend our money to make a difference instead of on that new car, or new home, or vacation? All those things will be gone in the blink of an eye. Only the difference we make in another’s life can last through eternity.

Showing them Christ’s love – there is no better thing we can do with our time and money.

God has called us to adopt again. We live in a world that thinks this is foolish, but-

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty” 1 Cor 1:27

We are thankful and EXCITED to bring another child home. Soon there will be ONE LESS ORPHAN!!!



Another daughter coming home!

We are excited to announce -that hopefully sometime next summer- we will be adding another precious daughter to our family!!!! Her name will be Ettamei , and will be called Meimei (which is Chinese for little sister). She will turn 6 in a couple of months. She is from the same province as Xiaoyun. We are at the very beginning of our paper pregnancy, but it makes it so much easier already knowing the steps in the process. The girls are all very excited to bring Meimei home. We can't post a picture yet, but she is adorable!!

Soon there will be ONE LESS ORPHAN!!!!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Nini is doing well 4 weeks post surgery

Nini went back to the surgeon for a follow-up and all is looking great. The surgery has taken care of one of her main issues, and we are so thankful for that answered prayer!! I have been so surprised by how well she has done since the surgery. For a girl who likes to show me every boo-boo (real or perceived ;-)  ) she complained very little following the surgeries. Her hair is growing back quickly-which is a good thing. She has decided she doesn't like her 'Baba hair' and wants her long like the other girls. Thank you to all who have prayed for her and we ask that you continue to do so!! Blessings, Cindy

Lifeline is hosting children from China who need families

My friend, Annie, wants to get the word out about an opportunity (for people considering adoption) to meet some of the incredible kids waiting for families from China. If you know someone interested please share this info with them. Wouldn't it be wonderful if each of these children went back to China only long enough for their paperwork to be completed, and then back here to their forever families? What a blessing that would be!!

"Southern Hospitality 2014" Hosting Program
Lifeline Children's Services is excited to announce that we will be hosting twelve children from Kunming City, China as part of our first ever hosting program! The hosting program, "Southern Hospitality 2014," will be held in Hattiesburg, MS on October 12-26, 2014.
We are inviting families to join us in Hattiesburg to help us make "Southern Hospitality" a memorable experience for the children. The children, with ages ranging from six to thirteen years old, will be staying all together in one hosting home with translators and a representative from the orphanage. Families will be visiting with all of the children in the home, learning about them and their culture, and participating in activities throughout the week. Families will also have the opportunity to meet with a representative from the Kunming orphanage and interact with the Lifeline China team. As a part of the hosting program, the children will also be seen by a medical doctor associated with the International Adoption Clinic in Birmingham, AL.
Our goal in this endeavor is to shower these children with love, introduce them to the culture of the southern United States, and provide them with some unique experiences. This event is also an important element in our on-going development of our orphanage partnerships in China. Through our partnership orphanages we are able to serve the children of China, both adoptable and unadoptable, orphanage staff, directors, and government officials. We are grateful to be able to participate in an opportunity such as this one. Please join us in making this an unforgettable and life-changing experience for these precious children!
DATES: The dates families will be attending the program will be either 10/15-10/19 or 10/21-10/25; families will attend only one session (these dates are subject to change depending on the travel schedules of the children).

WHERE: Hattiesburg, Mississippi

CHILDREN PARTICIPATING: There will be twelve boys and girls, ages six to thirteen years old, with mild to moderate medical special needs.

  • ALL families must have an accepted Lifeline application on file at the Lifeline offices.
  • Families must have a finalized home study from a Hague/COA agency.
  • If you do not have a finalized home study, there are requirements that will need to be met before you will be able to participate in the hosting program. These requirements will include FBI clearances, Adam Walsh clearances, medical statement, home inspection, etc.
  • These children will need to be adopted through Lifeline Children's Services. Lifeline will not be able to transfer these files to another agency.
  • Prior to the camp, we will be developing pools of interest for each child. We will not be matching children until the program has been completed. Once the camp has been completed, we will look at the pools of interest for each child and matches will be made in the best interest of each child.
  • Families will be responsible for their own travel/lodging/food/activity expenses. Lifeline has secured a block of hotel rooms in Hattiesburg where all participating families will stay. This information will be provided to you upon acceptance to the program.
For information on the twelve children and to find Frequently Asked Questions about the program, visit our website HERE.
If you are a family interested in participating in the hosting program, please contact Karla Thrasher at: 205.967.0811 or by e-mail at

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.