It’s been six months since we got home from China with our sweet Selah. To be quite honest, Selah is amazing. She is smart, sweet, and we truly can’t imagine our lives without her. Every single day, Selah surprises us. She’ll say something, and Dan and I will look at each other and say, “how does she know that?” We both agree that she is going to change the world.
This doesn’t mean that we don’t still have hard days, because we do. Sleeping is still hard, and naps are especially tough. But she’s so worth it. She gets along with Levi and Ezra so well (of course there is always some fights, too), and she’s really excited to celebrate her first Christmas. We bought her a “my first Christmas home” ornament, and she was thrilled to put it on the tree. She keeps telling me, “Mommy, I want a doll for Chris-a-mas.” It’s so sweet. About a week ago, when we were decorating the Christmas tree together, Selah said, “Mommy, I happy.” And I can see that in her; she really is a happy girl, which is amazing considering all that she has been through in her life. She’s still growing like a weed; she knows all of her colors and can count to ten. She loves Hello Kitty, Peppa Pig, and Disney movies. She loves dressing up and running down to “show Daddy.” She gets excited to see our friends and extended family, and she knows she belongs.
Last year, we really felt that someone was missing when we were celebrating Christmas. This year, we are all together, and we are so thankful. We can’t wait to see Selah’s face this year for her first Christmas morning and throughout all of our family Christmas traditions. Last year, Selah didn’t have a family. This year, she’s a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a niece, and a friend. She is cherished, but we know that we are the blessed ones, because WE have HER. It’s been a hard year, but God has given us many things to be thankful for.
And yes, she’ll be getting the doll she asked for (or two or three).
It’s hard to believe we have been home one month with our sweet little girl. It really feels that she has always been with us. She fits in so well with our family!
It’s amazing to see Selah’s transformation since we’ve been home. She went from a girl afraid to step on grass (she’d never seen it before) to running out the door in bare feet to the water table. She went from spitting out and refusing most of the food we gave her to eating just about anything and gaining almost two pounds. She went from having to have a snack in her hand at all times because she was afraid of not having enough food to trusting us to give her meals. She went from not knowing how to play on a slide to climbing up and going down all by herself. She went from being scared out of her mind at bedtime to looking forward to reading books and brushing her teeth with the boys. It really is incredible.
Selah loves macaroni and cheese, animal crackers, waffles, ice cream, showing off her painted toenails, sunglasses, her baby dolls, singing, laughing at her brothers, baths, the water table, swinging on the swing set, Calliou (ugh), and brushing her teeth. She knows A LOT of English words (too many to list now, really), and learns lots more every single day. She is so incredibly smart! We've spent time at multiple doctor's appointments this month. Thankfully, Selah's cardiology appointment went well (although it wasn't without tears); her heart is healthy, which is a huge answer to prayer! She is currently on medicine for an intestinal issue, but we're hoping she'll be cleared of that soon. We have another appointment in a couple of weeks with an allergist, because she has shown signs of a couple of food allergies we want to get check out and understand.
Selah has really done amazing things since she’s been home, but that doesn’t mean this transition hasn’t been hard on all of us. The honeymoon stage is officially over, and we are working on adjusting to being a family of five and as parents, outnumbered by toddlers/preschoolers. Our kids are amazing, but we are truly exhausted, and some days are a struggle. It’s all worth it, but the days can be long! But our kids are all full of smiles (most of the time), and when we see them hug each other and say “Wo ai ni” (I love you in Chinese), it just makes it all worthwhile.
We were happy to celebrate Selah’s first 4th of July as a US citizen yesterday. I am more thankful than ever before to live in America. I don’t ever want to take for granted the freedoms and opportunities that we have here. As Peter Marshall said, “May we think of freedom not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right." As hard as some of the days are, we are thankful that we have the freedom to be able to bring Selah home to be with us forever. God meant for her to be a part of our family as a daughter and sister. We are so blessed to have this precious little girl in our family.
I wanted to give everyone an update about how things are going now that we’re adjusting to live as a family of five. Truthfully, there are good days and hard days, but I know things will keep getting better.
Selah is sleeping better (she even slept through the night once), but most of the time she still wakes up scared a few times during the night and we have to walk her to get her back to sleep. So, we’re still pretty tired most of the time. Selah had her doctor’s appointment at the Akron Children’s adoption clinic to see the international adoption specialist and the developmental specialist. So far, things are looking good! Selah was nervous at the appointment, but she was very brave when they took blood to test for lots of different things. Hopefully we’ll have the results soon. Both the doctor and developmental specialist were impressed with her language so far. We need to work on her gaining weight, however, because our little peanut’s weight isn’t even on the charts (she’s below the 1st percentile). This is hard because she’s VERY picky in what she will eat. Right now, she’ll eat Cheerios, goldfish, some Chinese snacks we brought home, and crackers. Recently, she at two bites of lasagna and some mac and cheese, though, so we’re hoping that’s progress! In the next few weeks, we need to take Selah to a pediatric cardiologist to get checked out and an allergist due to some food allergies we're a little concerned about.
Selah LOVES Levi, and she smiles huge when he walks into a room. Selah and Ezra (who are just 11 months apart) have some bonding to do, though. Ezra isn’t quite ready to give up his baby of the family status, and Selah sees him as someone trying to take her toys. Yesterday, Ezra started “digging a hole to China so we can take Selah back” in the backyard. Thankfully, today he’s changed his mind.
Selah went from never stepping on grass before and being scared to walk on it less than a week ago to LOVING to be outside. She’s a huge fan of the water table and sandbox. She's also saying a few English words already, like Mommy, Daddy, Levi, Ezra, milk, Cheerios, coffee, bye-bye, thank you, and pretty. She is already a bit of a girly-girl; she shows everyone her painted toe nails and says "pretty".
For this whole week, we’ve had people from church bring us meals. This has been such a blessing, because we’re tired and are adjusting to taking care of a 2, 3, and 4 year old, but also because God has used this to remind us that we are not alone in this. Every time we start getting discouraged or overwhelmed, God has sent someone to us with a meal, or gifts, or one of our parents will call, or we get a message that someone is praying for us. From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU. It truly means the world to us.
So, in short, we’re tired, our house is a mess, and laundry is piled up, but we’re doing good! Thank you, Jesus!
I know a lot of people were waiting for an update post when we got home, but we were so exhausted that I wasn’t able to update. I’m just warning you, there may be errors here since I’m still so tired and my brain isn’t quite working right.
Since we were able to update our flights, we woke up early on Friday morning (China time) in Hong Kong, packed up, and walked over to the airport. We went through TSA, had breakfast at Starbucks in the airport, and walked to our gate after getting a little lost in the maze of an airport. We only spent about 12 hours in Hong Kong, but the scenery we saw was beautiful!
We boarded our 15 hour flight and it took off on time. Selah did much better than I could have expected on the flight. We had upgraded to economy plus, which was amazing. Selah had a little space to even play on the floor in front of her seat. It made a huge difference. We had lots of different toys ready to pull out like Play Dough, magnets, stacking cups, and a DVD player with Kai Lan and a few Disney movies. There were a few times she cried, and I walked up and down the plane a little with her, but overall she did great! She slept for about four hours near the end of her flight. To her little body, we landed at 1:30 am in Newark, which was actually 1:30 pm. We figured we would be forever at customs and immigration there, but it only took about 30 minutes. We gave them all of Selah’s citizenship paperwork, and Selah was officially a US citizen as soon as we landed. I have never been more appreciative of the freedoms and opportunities we have as Americans as after this trip.
Since our new flights had us connecting in Newark, Dan’s dad, stepmom, and two brothers were able to meet us at the airport. Dan’s brothers even left school early to meet us there! Selah loved meeting her family, and it was so great to see them all.
After visiting for awhile, we rechecked our bags, went through the LAST round of TSA, and ate in the United lounge because of our United credit card. At that point we were pretty exhausted and cranky after being up for 24 hours, but we made it to our next flight from Newark to Cleveland. Selah and I slept during the hour and a half flight, and we walked from our gate to baggage claim. We spotted Levi and Ezra first, and they started sprinting towards us. It was the moment we had been waiting over two weeks for, and the four of us were tearing up as we hugged. Then we looked up and saw our friends and family in our adoption t-shirts with amazing signs waiting for us and welcoming Selah home. It was truly one of the most beautiful sights we’ve ever seen. We are so thankful that Kate Oren was able to document this moment with her photos! We hugged everyone and introduced them to Selah. She was a little shy but warmed up quickly and started smiling at everyone. As exhausted as we were, it was one of the best moments of our lives. To see the people we love after what felt like such a long trip away was amazing, but what was even better was what this meant for Selah. Just a very short time ago, this precious little girl was without a family at all. Now, she is a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a niece, and a friend. She is loved and cherished, and the display at the airport represented this drastic change in her life.
We all drove home and Selah used a car seat for the first time in her life. In China, they do not use car seats, so while we were there, she sat on my lap in the vans we used. She was fine in the car seat at first, but about halfway home she was pretty over it. She screamed and cried for a while until we got home. When we got home, Levi and Ezra eagerly showed her around the house, and she ADORES them. They make her laugh and she was so comfortable playing with them. It was absolutely amazing to see them interact. Selah even tried to imitate some of the words Levi said to her. She is going to learn English so quickly!
We took Selah outside, and she obviously had never walked in grass before. It was hilarious to see her discover it. She was so tentative and lifted her knees high when she was walking, and then she wanted to be picked up. The boys started picking flowers for her and giving them to her, and she was thrilled. Levi and Ezra are both amazing big brothers. They brought Selah toys and stuffed animals to play with, read books with her, brought her a juice box and snacks, and were so attentive.
Bedtime was pretty difficult, especially since Selah is used to sleeping on a different schedule. We finally were able to put her to sleep after a lot of tears at 11. Unfortunately, she was back up at 1:30, and I walked her to sleep for an hour. Then she was back up at 4:00, and Dan took a turn and then we switched around 6 when I got up with her for the day. We are so exhausted; we’re hoping to be able to have a normal sleeping schedule soon!
Most exciting news first: We got Selah’s visa! The computer glitch was fixed, and we are on our way out of here! Thank you all for your prayers! Now Selah will become a US citizen as soon as we touch down in the US. After the last few weeks, we really understand how much of a blessing this is.
All National Parks: Our Travel Bucket list
X Acadia National Park