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

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Tapestry of Our Family

Our family is like a beautiful tapestry that is yet  unfinished. It has been woven together from threads from my side of the family and Virgil's and new threads continue to be added. The old and the new combine to make a beautiful picture, and when you step back and look at it as a whole, you can clearly see the Mighty Weaver at work. God has skillfully placed threads together that no other would have chosen. He's interlocked different personalities, different strengths and weaknesses, different talents, gifts and abilities, different backgrounds and cultures, different likes and dislikes. He has put it all together in a pattern that clearly demonstrates that a Designer is at work.
On any given Sunday at church, you'll find some of the girls sitting with grandparents, an older brother, sister-in-law, niece, aunt or uncle, or family friends. On holidays, you'll hear what is a beautiful sound to this mama's ears- voices of grandchildren, children, grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all laughing and talking together. When we're able to visit my family in Alabama the girls all vie for their time to snuggle with their great grandmother.

I can't begin to tell you how precious it is to sit in my mamaw's living room and listen to the girls singing worship songs and old hymns with her, my aunt and uncle. Who but God could have chosen seven girls from halfway around the world to weave into the fabric of our family in such a beautiful, miraculous way!

Sharing in the joys of life, the sorrows of life and everything in between. Celebrating marriages, new babies, graduations, birthdays, and Gotcha days. Mourning those who have passed away. We are living life together as a family, and each experience is tightly woven into this beautiful piece of work God is creating. How I thank God for this mighty work He is doing!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Birthday X Three

 
We celebrated three birthdays in a three week time span starting with Nini's on October 16 and ending with Meimei's on November 8. 
 

Nini's 9th birthday



Elli's 13th birthday

Meimei's 8th birthday.
(Complete with frosting on her cheeks)

.

 
We were given a recipe for a Chinese-style cake (sponge type cake and whipped frosting/ with fruit in between the layers). I made it for Meimei's birthday. It was such a hit that all the girls have asked for one for their next birthday.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Meimei's First Forever Day

                                                

I'm pretty sure Meimei has been part of our family since before birth- it just took her almost seven years to come home. Her adjustment has been the kind everyone who adopts hopes to have. She has blended in seamlessly with the rest of the family. She is helpful, loving, bossy when she's allowed to be ;-)  , and just a delight to all who know her. Happy Gotcha Meimei!!!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Erin's First Gotcha Day








It is hard to believe it has been a year already since we sat in a Civil Affairs Office in Haikou and signed the papers to make Erin Qinglian our daughter. What she knew when we met her amazed us, and she continues to amaze those she meets. Not until after we adopted Erin did I fully appreciate how much we were indebted to Bethel Foster Home for teaching her English (among other things). It made adjustments so much easier because we were able to communicate the basics with her and she with us. Once home, we were even more grateful because she already knew the English Braille alphabet. There is not a lot of resources out there for teaching blind, English language learners. So much of it is visual, which does her no good. Thankfully, she knew how to read and type simple braille words (in English) already. Her teachers have all bragged on how well she is doing and what a great memory she has. We are blessed to have an assistant assigned just to Erin, who was with her last year and through the rest of this school year, that really cares about Erin and helps her navigate a strange new world. Erin also has a wonderful vision impaired instructor who is excited to teach Erin and help us find all the materials we need to help Erin to succeed in school and in day to day living.
It is rare to see Erin in a bad mood. She is always singing or humming. She's quite the joyful young lady. We are thankful for her!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

33 Years of Standing By Me


This blog has been swirling around in my head since that day last September…

After 22 days, 4 provinces and two new daughters, we were headed home. It had been a long trip. I was tired, overwhelmed and homesick. We were just on the first leg of a 33 hour journey. I knew when we arrived home we’d be just at the beginning of our REAL journey- adjustments, attachment, medical.

Thousands of feet above the earth, somewhere between Guangzhou and Shanghai, I did something I’ve done in every flight we’ve flown in China. I plugged in my earphones to see if there was any music.  Usually there wasn’t any, but this time there was not only music, it was American oldies.
When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we’ll see
No I won’t be afraid
Oh, I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me. (Stand By Me- Ben E. King)


I looked across the aisle to where Virgil sat between two of our daughters. The tears began to flow. A wave of thankfulness swept over me. My wonderful, compassionate husband would be there to stand by me whatever we were facing in the days, months, and years ahead. I was not walking this path alone. God had allowed us to walk this path together.

Not many men would embark on a journey to adopt seven daughters when he had just finished raising his bio children. Not many would forsake the comfortable life to go into debt to bring these girls home. Not many would give up peace and quiet, and weekends spent in favorite leisure activities.

Not many- but my man did.

Today we celebrate 33 years of marriage.

I could have guessed until eternity, and never dreamed up the dream we are living.

God has blessed me beyond measure with the finest of men for my husband-
one who will always stand by me.



Saturday, May 28, 2016

Nini and Ximi's 3rd Gotcha Days




The end of May brings us to the last of the Gotcha Days in the past month. Nini and Ximi celebrated 3 years home. These two rays of sunshine are about alike as Felix and Oscar of the old Odd Couple show :-)  . Nini would rather die than leave a crumb on the table, and Ximi looks like most of her food ended up outside of her plate. Ximi messes up the towel when she brushes her teeth and Nini comes behind and straightens it back up. But somehow, these two polar opposites make great sisters. Before we adopted them, we thought Ximi's vision would be a challenge, but in the end it was Nini's needs that proved far greater. They have both come so far in the last few years and have each- in their own special ways- been such a blessing to all who know them. They light up the room when they come in. Ximi bounds in with her infectious grin, and Nini quietly walks in with her shy smile. Two very different, and very wonderful little girls. We thank God for them!!
Nini and Ximi on Ximi's Gotcha Day

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Happy Birthday Xiaoyun!!



Xiaoyun is now 19. Can you believe it? She has grown into a beautiful young woman. 5 years ago we landed at the Louisville airport and sang happy birthday to her with all our family and friends who came to welcome her and Enya home. Time has flown and she has grown up so much. She is capable of running the household and keeping all her sisters in line. I never have to worry when I leave her in charge. If possible, she's a little bossier than me 😁.
I must confess that prior to adopting her a wondered how those teenage years would go. I shouldn't have worried. She is a blessing and is mature beyond her years. I'm so thankful that God blessed us with this very special girl!!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Ximi's 8th Birthday/ Mother's Day

I can think of no better way to celebrate Mother's Day than to celebrate it on one of our children's birthdays. Ximi turned 8 today. In true typical Ximi fashion, she didn't care what we got her for her birthday. She is so easy going and cheerful from the moment she wakes up until she goes to bed. Easy to please should be her middle name. Ximi just recently won student of the month at her school. She wins everyone's hearts after being around her a short time.

 

 We were both spoiled today. Virgil wouldn't let me step into the kitchen all day. He and the girls handled all the meals and cleanup. I was blessed to be able to worship in church today with many of my family. Virgil's mom passed away many years ago, so I know that it is an extra special thing to be able to have 4 generations together for the day. They all came over to the house for lunch and birthday cake. There is such joy in just sitting on the porch surrounded by so many people I love. It is not something I take for granted.
All the girls had made me a card, and had homemade gifts for me. They are a creative bunch of girls. Virgil bought me a necklace that Love Without Boundaries was selling to help raise funds for the cleft repairs they just completed in China. It was a special gift because not only do we have a child who had a cleft repair done before she came home (Enya), but we also have two children who were in foster care through LWB (Elli and Meimei) .
Though not all the kids were here, we did try to get a family photo. That is a tricky thing with this bunch. This was the best one of the thousand or so taken- lol!


 
Praising God for my family!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Elli's 6th Year Home




Our sweet Elli has celebrated yet another year home. A few months ago we mentioned that she had been with us half her life. She corrected us and told us the half way mark was Gotcha day, so from now on we can say she has been with us longer than she was without us.  Elli is such a deep thinker, but it took me by surprise that she had even thought about that. We laughed with her tonight watching the videos of our first days together. She seemed like such a baby then. She's grown up so much, and is truly a delight to all who meet her. Her gentle, quiet spirit is so nurturing to the other girls.  She's a little mama, but in a very tender way. She's by far our most introverted, but this year she has started to come out of that shell some and it is like watching a rose blossom.
When we look back at how far we've come in 6 years it's really quite unbelievable. Our world has changed, and we see things so differently than we did before we took our first trip to China. Truly we see life much clearer now than we used to. Priorities have shifted. Worldly things have lost their luster. God is teaching  us how to appreciate life more fully, and He is using the girls to help us learn that lesson. I'm so grateful that we've been given the opportunity to live the life we are living!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Post from Xioayun on her 5th Family Day- to families thinking of adopting an older child

 
 
*Xiaoyun, what would you want to say to someone considering adopting an older child?
 
 There are a lot of advantages to adopting an older child. For one thing, you get to skip the potty training phase and the middle of the night feedings ;-)  .  Of course, adopting a teenager means you get to the attitude phase faster- lol. I think a lot of that is a language and culture issue. You might be saying ' I love you', but they don't truly understand what you are saying. That takes time. There is so many things that are thought about differently in China, and it takes time to learn how you want them to behave. My first year home I didn't think a whole lot about other people. I was pretty selfish. That is what I saw in China and I didn't know that that was not the right way to act. For example, if I put my dog Sammi on a leash, she can only go so far and only sees those things nearby, but if I let her go one day without that leash, all of the sudden she has a whole world to explore. I didn't know what was good and what was bad, until I was adopted and my parents taught me right from wrong. During those first few months home, if one of my younger sisters pushed me, I'd push her back. I thought that was what I was supposed to do.
 
*What advice do you have for those first months home?
 
   First patience ;-) . Try to be involved with day to day things they are interested in. Build that relationship with them before they are put in school if at all possible. I felt insecure when I first came home. My parents sheltered me as much as possible and that not only made me feel safe, but also helped us form closer bonds. Try to look over the bad attitude when you can. Sometimes it's the language issue- nothing more than  a misunderstanding. Other times they are missing their old life, friends, or foster family.You need to set boundaries of course,  because they will try to see how much they can get away with.
 
*What do you think are good things to take to China or have when they come home?
 
 Try to find out what they are interested in and have those ready. I like to read, and my parents bought some Chinese books while we were in China (and on other trips to adopt since then) and also ordered some online. I like photography and they brought a camera for me when they came. An MP3 is great because I could download my favorite Chinese music and listen to something I was familiar with when I was having a hard time.  Google translate really helped with the language barrier. Ask them while still in China (using the guide to translate) what they are interested in and try to get some of those while in China. Mama brought nail polish and hair accessories and that helped us bond those first few days.
Skype or WeChat is great if not all the family is traveling. I was able to 'meet' my dad and siblings, aunts and uncles, and grandparents before I even got home. That helped me not be as anxious arriving home.
 
Xiaoyun, what was the hardest part of being adopted?
 
 For me, it was making friends. Communicating was difficult. The kids here seemed to have known each other all their lives. Their bonds were so tight that I felt I couldn't be a part. Learning English is especially hard when you are older. I felt like I should be learning it quickly, and it was frustrating for me when I didn't. I feel like I don't have enough time to learn all I need to learn before I graduate. The kids in my classes are younger than me. If I was still in China I would be graduating this year, but instead I am a sophomore. I feel like people might think I am not smart because I am older than the other kids. My parents encourage me by reminding me that I have only been home 5 years and that I am now fluent in two languages. They have also reassured me that they don't care how old I am when I graduate and head off to college.
 
 
 
One important word of 'fashion' advice for the kids- let your mom help you match your clothes, or at least don't let them take a picture of you and then show it to you 5 years later - LOL!!!!!!
 
 
 
 
 
Xiaoyun and Emily



Xiaoyun and Baba
Melody and her 'Aunt Queen'

Sammi and Xiaoyun


 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Enya's 5th Gotcha Day


We celebrated in our usual fashion- Chinese food and watching videos. This time however, we found some videos we didn't remember ever watching before. With each passing year, I'm more aware of how quickly time passes. There is a little more young lady, and a little less  girl. I see the signs I know too well. I've walked this path before as some of my other children have swiftly passed from child to adult. One day they are wearing their princess dress up clothing, and the next we're looking at an empty bedroom.
Enya is such a blessing. Though time has brought some maturity, it has not dimmed her bubbly spirit. Her excitement for life continues to be contagious to those around her. Her generosity continues to abound. She's had two palate surgeries already this year, and never complained.
Below is a note she wrote me today. It is just one of many that she has written me. Some are with drawings, others I've found sitting beside a bouquet of dandelions and violets.
All are like Enya- utterly precious!!!!

(I am happy for you being my mom. I always wanted to have a mom like you.
Thank you. Love Enya)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

To the Child Who Will Never Be Mine

Dear precious one, I'm writing this letter to tell you I am so very sorry.
I looked at your picture and saw your beautiful face.
I read your brief bio, and also read between the lines.
I saw the sadness in your eyes.
Your face haunts me. 
Your story breaks my heart into a million pieces.

I  want you to know that even though we couldn't come for you,

YOU MATTER.

I know your name. I whisper it in the night and ask the Lord to watch over you.
I know the day you were found wandering in the marketplace, and that the police came and took you to the welfare institute.
I know you were old enough to know that you were abandoned by the very ones you loved the most.
I know you talked a little about your family to your caregivers, and you cried yourself to sleep for many nights.
I know the day that was assigned as your birthday.
I know your medical needs.
I know that you needed surgery you never received, and now  many are afraid to adopt you because of that need.
I know you've watched other boys and girls meet their new families.
I know that each birthday brings you a little closer to losing all hope. The clock continues to move steadily toward your 14th birthday.

I also know you favorite food and your favorite color.
I know you help the smaller kids and comfort the ones who are hurting.
I know you help the nannies with chores, and do it cheerfully.
I know you love to sing and your favorite song tells how blessed is a child that has a mother's love.
I know you like handwriting, but struggle in math.
I know you've posed for several photographs through the years, and that with each one you hope and pray that a family will see the beautiful you on the inside and come to make your their child.

I know all these things and yet I could not bring you home.

Please forgive me for not being able to give you a family to call your own.


Friday, January 15, 2016

My 'Prayer Closet'

Since I normally only post about adoption, it may seem strange that I am talking about a prayer closet. However, I can't help thinking there are other mothers out there who have adopted and have the same issues that I've dealt with. Prior to adopting Elli, there were only three of us in this house. (Emily was 17) It was easy to find a quiet place to do a devotion. I had an entire house where I could study the Bible and pray. After Elli came home, things changed, but still it was easy to find that quiet time. Fast forward five years, and now there are nine of us living in this home. Space is at a premium. Quiet time is HARD to come by. Generally by the time all the girls are in the bed, I'm ready myself ;-)
I have wanted to carve out a dedicated spot where I could leave my Bible, notebook, etc and be alone. It had been on my mind for a while and when we got back from China in September, the need was even more apparent. If I'm not taking time to be with God, everything (and everyone) else suffers. I knew I needed that desperately but couldn't figure out a good location. In October, I told Virgil I really needed a small desk I could call my own and I needed a place I could put it where I could go in and shut the door and have a little privacy. He took me that day to look for something (I think he could see the desperation in my eyes - lol). What I ended up with was a little secretary desk that we found at an indoor flea market. It didn't take up any more space than my nightstand did. I can now shut the door and be able to concentrate on God's Word. This time with Him is vital for me. It is not a want, it is a NEED.

There is a movie out on DVD now called War Room. The woman in the movie has a prayer closet where she brings her needs before the Lord. It's a great movie, and highlights what I am talking about. Many of us, however don't have the space to use one of our closets. I'm hoping my idea will encourage another mother out there to find some nook that they can call their own and go to everyday to be renewed and recharged by God. Blessings, Cindy

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

This Bed Of Roses


Many people believe we live in a ‘bed of roses’. I must admit that I rarely post the really hard parts of our journey. I’m an eternal optimist, and usually see the ‘glass half full’.  When people ask how it’s going, my general reply is, “It’s going well”. The thing is, ‘well’ is relative. Considering how things could be going, they are going Very Well. I’ve read and heard of many children who have struggled, whether with medical issues or adjustments, and we’ve been very blessed that, for the most part, ours have been easier than others.

With that said, I do want to share a bit of our journey that isn’t usually shared.

Because, let’s face it, even a bed of roses has its thorns (and weeds if we’re not careful)

As I type, I’m sitting at the hospital waiting for Meimei to get tubes in her ears. She has been diagnosed with some hearing loss, and has very small ear canals. Hopefully the tubes will prevent ear infections and increase her hearing. She also has a speech impediment that might improve once she has the ability to hear clearly. She will see a neurologist next week to see if she has craniostenosis, and whether any surgery needs to be done to correct it.

Next week Enya has the first of two bone grafts of her palate. They’ll take a small piece of bone from her hip and graft it into the roof of her mouth. They’ll do the right side of the palate first, and six to eight weeks later, they’ll do the left side of palate. Once that heals, she will have to have another surgery on her eye for the ptosis. The eyelid has started drooping enough that it is causing some impediment of her sight. In the summer, she will also have another lip revision. Thankfully, these are all outpatient, and Enya is a tough cookie. She too has some hearing loss, but her’s is permanent.

Nini’s medical issues are not so clear cut. When you are talking about neurological issues things can get a little murky. She has many different diagnoses that come together to create the perfect storm. We’re left never quite certain what is causing what issue. For example, she has an unsteady gait. Is it caused by the Chiari 1, CP, or ventriculomegaly? (Prior to the tethered cord release we could have had that on the list as well) She is being fitted for braces that come just above the ankles. Because of those weak muscles, her feet are collapsing inward, so we’re trying to prevent growth plate damage, and help with the pain she feels in her feet and legs. She has what amounts to a traumatic brain injury. Because she never had the shunt for the hydrocephalus, her brain received permanent damage. She is at a two year old level, and the doctors aren’t certain how much she will mature. She has memory loss. She does learn, but it is much slower than other kids her age. She recently came home from school and could name a few colors. Honestly, I wouldn’t have been prouder if someone showed me their college degree. What she learns comes with much effort, and is a reason to celebrate. I mentioned before that the neurosurgeon wanted to know if she could walk or speak when he first looked at her MRI. There is that much damage. It is truly miraculous that she does as well as she does. She has behavior issues that primarily show themselves only at home. We’re learning what causes her to spiral down, and try to avoid those when possible. She is on medication to replace a chemical which aids in calming her.  The hardest part with Nini is that she is the sweetest little girl in the world, but there are emotions she isn’t capable of controlling, and learning barriers that cause her to work harder, but learn less. I haven’t found many – actually any- families who deal with these exact issues. (Though I am grateful to know another family who deals with behavior and learning issues, and we can share ideas of what works and what doesn’t.

We deal with so many different medical diagnoses in our home that my medical knowledge has expanded exponentially. It is a new ‘adventure’ every day, and we’re never quite sure what the day will hold. Currently, we’re dealing with a daughter who has some autistic-like symptoms, one with ADHD, another who probably has ADD, low vision, no vision, learning disabilities, language learners,  and of course, attachment and bonding.

These are the thorns on the roses. But thorns (which by the way are really called prickles) are there for a reason. They protect those delicate blooms. For us, it protects us from self-reliance. We learned early on in our adoption process that our strength is not enough. We do not possess the love, patience, or wisdom needed for the garden we are tending. The challenges keep us reliant on the Only One who can do all things.

What is really a danger in that bed of roses are the weeds. When I fail to keep my eyes on God, the weeds start taking over. These weeds are the things that keep me from focusing on Him. There are days my head swims (well, truthfully, this is almost every day- lol!), days I want to cry (and days I do!!), days I think I can’t do this, and many days I feel I’m failing at EVERYTHING. There is so much I don’t know about the medical side of things. Many hurts I can’t heal. There is frustration with not having the answers, especially those that will never be clear-cut. If I allow them, they will keep me from the sweet fragrance all around me. They’ll keep me from focusing on the Master Gardener who blessed me with these precious blooms. They’ll have me looking around at problems and potential problems instead of inhaling the aroma of the bouquet He has placed in my home and in my heart. Our girls are the most beautiful , fragrant roses you’ll ever meet. They are funny, kind, tenderhearted, loving, and generous.

In every area of my life, I must be careful not to focus on the negative-which is not the same as burying my head in the sand. I’m well aware of the problems. I must choose each morning to recognize the weeds for what they are and give them over to God.

 

 

 

 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Interview with our family

Elizabethtown-family-raising-7-girls-adopted-from-China


We were recently asked by one of our local news stations to do an interview to highlight international adoptions. The girls really enjoyed the interview. We're praying that it encourages others to consider this incredible gift called adoption!

Friday, January 1, 2016

This Little Girl Will Age Out Soon- Could You Be Her Family?

Hope
A friend has asked me to advocate for this beautiful 13 year old. In six months she will age out. She'll turn 14 in July, and then it will be too late for her to have a family to call her own. She has a repaired cleft that may require some more revision (Enya has had these, and another upcoming. It is out-patient, and for Enya, has always been a quick recovery). She was raised by a family that had taken her in, until they passed away in 2012. Hope has said she would like to be adopted. Please consider whether Hope might be your daughter!!!!
She is listed with All God's Children International adoption agency.