cherry blossom baby

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life." Proverbs 13:12 Join the joyous journey to my baby in China!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Rainy Day Fun

Abbey baked her first cake for her cousin Avonlea's birthday.
She loved it and ate a few spoon licks of frosting.
We took all the balls from the ball popper and musical ball tower and made a fun game using a scooper and the muffin tins.

Out stomping in the rain.

We've had a great weekend together. Abbey's funny new phrase is "I changed my mind", and she uses it every chance she gets.

She gets very excited about cooking together. Using the mixer is extra special. A couple of weeks ago we made muffins. Pancakes and mashed potatos are coming up next on our list.

We went to the craft store and got some things to make and decorate for Valentine's Day.

She loves to run and get things for me and do little jobs saying "Here Mama, here!"

We went to the mall yesterday and enjoyed how they've remodeled things and made a great new children's play area with family bathrooms and a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf right by it. Best of all it is completely fenced in with one exit/entrance.

Abbey had her 2nd dental visit this week and LOVED IT! She went right when I brought her home from China for a "peek-a-boo visit" but this was her first real cleaning. They did such a fabulous job. The whole office is like a children's wonderland with toys and play areas. Abbey gets very prim and proper in these kind of situations and my jaw hangs open as I wonder what has come over her. She was such an excellent patient that they went and got her a Cinderella electric toothbrush in additon to the other princess toothbrush and floss picks they usually give out. She got to pick 3 things from the treasure chest, use a gumball machine to get a bouncy ball, and got 2 big stickers. She got a #1 score for brushing. With 5 number ones you get a Barnes and Noble card and with 10 you get a pass to Disneyland. She was re-enacting the whole thing tonight with me as the patient, showing me her "balloon" gloves, putting little sunglasses on me because of the "sunshine" light, putting "sparkles" on my teeth, etc. She is so much fun.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Speech Session

Early Intervention

Abbey with one of her wonderful speech therapists.
This is the cabinet she wanted to go get into in the video clip above.

Before I ever got a referral I met with the pediatrician and told him that I knew I wanted my child screened for Early Intervention as soon as we got home. I had heard so many good things about the program through SingleAdoptChina, which has really been the greatest source of information. Early Intervention is a state funded program to provide services for children under 3 yrs of age who have any kind of developmental delays. I am so glad that my doctor agreed and we had things in motion before I even went to get her. It takes time to have your child evaluated and arrange any services they qualify for. If we would have waited she probably wouldn't have qualified because she began changing so much right away. If you are referred a younger baby it may not be as critical, but because Abbey was 18 months when I got her I felt very strongly about her getting a lot of attention to make up for all the lack of stimulation in the orphanage. It also probably depends on what kind of care your child is receiving in China. There is a huge continuum both in the orphanages and in foster care. Abbey's situation warranted getting her all the help and opportunities I could provide. Did you know I can get very pushy? In a nice way that's just what I did. I pushed and pushed and called and called and asked and asked until I felt she had everything she needed in place. It took a lot of time and energy but it was so well worth it. Initially she qualified for general early intervention which meant that a specialist came to her daycare once a week and did play therapy with her. Matching games, colors, peg boards, sensory toys, etc. Her therapist felt that she didn't really need it, but I had been to her orphanage and had seen what she missed. We also had a occupational therapist we met with at home to work on sensory issues. I wanted to make sure she got exposed to all kinds of textures and activities in a strategic way. We went to the park with her therapist and worked with sand, water, mud and bubbles. At home we did whipped cream, pudding, and all sorts of gooey textures - both playing with them and eating them. It took quite awhile for Abbey to tolerate grass, sand, and mushy foods, but eventually we got there. Abbey qualified for speech, of course, because we switched languages on her at 18 months. Children who are adopted internationally at 12 months or younger are usually at the same place in speech as their peers by 18 months. Those adopted at 18 months do not usually catch up until 40 months. Typically at 18 months a child hits the 50 word mark and at that point begins making phrases and has a language explosion, but if you don't even begin hearing the language until 18 months it puts you way behind right when others are leaping forward. There is some good research on language development in internationally adopted children here. Harvard is currently conducting a big study with Chinese adoptees as well. Although I had Abbey evaluated for EI a couple of weeks after coming home, it took about a month and a half to get her speech evaluated. Then they didn't have any therapists available. I decided to go to someone outside the program for the first four months while we were waiting for an opening. The therapist had Abbey sit at a table and do flashcards to say the names of objects, most of which she had never seen before. So developmentally it wasn't really appropriate and she had a personality clash with the therapist (did I mention that Abbey has a mind of her own?), but I felt it was better than nothing and didn't want to "wait and see" how her speech development went. To me language is too critical not to be very proactive about. Eventually the EI center had an opening and we were able to switch to their therapists who really specialize in working with very young children. They play with toys and follow Abbey's interests. They also specialize in oral motor development. This was very important because Abbey had never eaten any food at 18 months (bottle only), so she really hadn't been using the muscles in her mouth and tongue in the way that most children have. In addition to speech 2 x's a week she was also able to join a little preschool type class once a week. The teachers are all therapists and they do an amazing job in a fantastic facility. I cannot tell you how wonderful everyone we have worked with through EI has been. It has really been incredible! Abbey has had so many wonderful experiences and received so much from all these programs. It has also been so helpful and educational for me. I've learned so much through these programs, and I've been in early childhood education for 20 years. Our EI center offered a six week parenting class in the summer where Abbey and I could attend together. They had wonderful staff playing with the children (it's like an indoor gym/playground/preschool) in a big open room where they could still come over at any time and sit with the parents as we learned about discipline, potty training, teaching your child values, etc. We were provided with wonderful dinners from great local restaurants and every child was given a special educational type toy each week (puppets, books, etc). I also attended an 8 week class on the Hanen Program, It Takes Two to Talk. This is an amazing program from Canada that trains parents how to be their child's speech therapist and develop their language all the time. You meet for a lecture and video and then the instructors come to your home and video tape you implementing the strategies with your child so that you can see what you are doing on film. During that program Abbey really begin putting her words together and talking. It was so amazing.
If we hadn't done any of this I know that Abbey would still have learned to talk and would have eventually made the developmental progress that she has, but it would have been much slower and there would have been gaps of things that would have never been covered. I feel so sad for parents who realize at 4 or 5 yrs. that their children have issues that could have been addressed at a much younger age. I just wanted to share all this for those of you waiting in case it may be helpful. Yes, she is doing amazingly well, now you can see everything we've been doing to ensure that. Tomorrow is a holiday and we'll be off to the park to meet her speech therapist for a playdate. We are trying to get every last drop that we can before Abbey turns 3 in April and will no longer be in the programs. I am so thankful for the wonderful people that have made such a difference in her life.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


I also wanted to say that I felt bad posting that I was sad, when I know so many of you would give anything just to have your child, work or not. I felt it was best to share though, as you may face these same things too at some point, and it is where I am at. I also feel bad complaining when I know I have so much time off that many working mothers do not have. I honestly do not know how others do it, but I know none of us would trade the lives we have with our children, regardless of what we have to do to make it all work. I think most of you know that I am usually a "glass is half-full" type of gal and constantly give thanks for all that I do have, but this time my heart got such a squeeze that I had to voice it. One of the things that really helped me to go back to work was the way Abbey's face lit up like a birthday cake when we saw her caregiver. I simply couldn't take it if she was sad to go. And I do think she benefits from the interaction with other kids and all the fun things they do.
As for the direction of my dreams, I especially want to thank Teri, who I don't know how to contact. She posted this...


The Bible says, "You do not have, because you do not ask". It cannot be wrong of us to ask for this in prayer. So, we will. We do.

Now we shall see what the Lord will do. Is *anything* too hard for Him?

Let us know what happens...

(from Iowa)

That comment was like a prophetic word that gave me the umph to really go to God and begin to seek Him. After all the miracles with the cancer and the incredible way He put Abbey and I together, I do know that He can do ANYTHING. I just want to really follow the path He has for us and would appreciate any and all prayers to that end.

Over the Hurdle



A big thank you for all your kind comments and emails. Within 24 hours I was able to stop all the crying and move forward. Hormones converging with a return to work were not a good mix. Prompted by your encouragement and some things I have been pondering over the last 6 months, I am actually considering some wild possibilities for the future. I still need more time to think and pray, but I believe the winds of change are in the air and I am excited for what the future holds for us.
In the meantime I wanted to show you Abbey with the Judge. She was very serious about all the re-adoption paperwork and acted unusually prim and proper. I am so thankful to have that last chunk of red tape done and now look forward to my last paperwork goal, a US passport for her. Evidently it is taking up to six months to get a birth certificate here. We were very blessed to have our good friends Ashlee, Quinlee, and Margaux join us for our meeting with the judge. They braved a torrential rainstorm and flew naptime to the wind to be there. We celebrated with strawberry milk and giant gingerbreadmen, yum!
Over the holidays we attended a party where Abbey made fast friends with a three year old who taught her a few new tricks. They were running around and hiding under the dinner table when I finally said that we needed to get ready to go. Abbey's little friend held up her hand and said "five more minutes," and I've been hearing that ever since! Abbey is also saying "I love you too, Mama," all the time even though it's not in response to anything I've said, so sweet. This week we attended a party at one of those wild indoor gym places and Abbey was much younger than the other guests. The kids all said she was too young to go on the flying hotdog, a big soft swing thing suspended up in the air. Oh no, she was going to go. So the staff said they could do it slow. Oh no, she was going to go fast like all the big kids. She was laughing and smiles all the way, so now I am thinking maybe she is ready for some little rides at Disneyland.
Last night I went to a Jane Brown seminar on Adoption and the Schools. If she comes to speak in your city, by all means go. It was excellent and I felt that I absorbed a whole new layer of understanding about the adoption and racial issues Abbey will face in the coming years. It was really a push to get there, and hard to leave Abbey for the evening, but so well worth the investment in the future. The wealth of information Jane has as a social worker and as a transracially adoptive parent was so good, not to mention all the experience she has had conducting playshops across the country. I was initially very leary of the playshops and thought that I wouldn't ever be bringing Abbey to one, and came away thinking I will be so happy if she gets to attend in the future. She brought up some issues that I had never thought about, even though I've done so much reading and research. I hope I get to hear her speak again.
Today we've had a lovely playdate with Sini who came to her family from China last January and once again I was amazed to see what love and nutrition can do for a child. We then had a great lunch at our favorite place, Sharkey's (healthy Mexican food : ) We got some cute pants for Abbey at the resale shop and are enjoying some lovely So. California weather. It feels like bliss being together again after the work week.

Monday, January 07, 2008


When I went back to work last January after getting Abbey it was hard. When I went back to work after being with her this summer it was harder. Going back today is the hardest of all. I'd give anything to have a year at home with her.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Cheer Time!

We know you've all seen this photo before, but it's show time for the Sooners at the Fiesta Bowl tonight and we need your collaborative support for a big win. Abbey adores her GranGene (aka GG) and he loves OU ball, so that means she is getting her game on today. On our visit last week Abbey went hurtling through the hotel and tackled GG in the hallway. I was trying to explain to her that he is my dad and she kept insisting, "NO, he is MY dad!".