Middle Child Love

Today is national middle child day! Isn't it just like us middle children to have a day to claim as our own!!  I have a special connection with my middle child.  Maybe it's because we share the same role in our family, maybe it's because he's a super cool boy, or maybe it's because he seemed to need me a little more than his big sister did. I feel pretty darn lucky to get to be his momma and I am glad God was able to put us on the same wave length. 

I am so drawn to Oliver.  He has both the quirks of Clay and I, which can make him quite the kid to figure out.  The moment he was born, we just really connected.  And I also realized I didn't have the whole parenting gig quite as figured out as I thought.  Over the next year, Oliver and I ventured our way through doctor appointments, therapy appointments, and we all survived a season full of loud & endless cries, choking spells, and lack of sleep. We came out stronger, braver, and more smitten than ever.

The first few days of his life, his inherited quirks were already shining through.  He didn't do well in over stimulating environments, he cried at too much talking, and he preferred weighted blankets... however this is before we knew about weighted blankets, so we stacked heavy pillows or stuffed animals on him.  We've come so far!  The crying would keep him up for hours at a time and Clay and I took turns walking the neighborhood just to find silence in our own home again.  At about 6 months, he went on a specialized formula (EleCare).  His little system need more gentleness and his body needed rest. We started seeing eye contact, snuggles, and stronger muscles.  Therapy helped with things like sucking, eating, strength, speech, sensory, etc... and we loved our therapists.  

Fast forward a few years.

He's now 4.  My handsome kiddo is 4. He's a lot like he was as a baby, but of course smarter, faster, and even more charming. He's a big brother as well.  He's so tender and loving, but also has his own ideas like adding a TV to his room because that would be "willy awesome." And the way he says it, makes you want to put up a flat screen TV on his wall right then and there. He is also sensitive beyond belief, a natural comedic without knowing it, solid and strong, and the best brother to his sisters. Plus he is by far the cleanest kid with the most organized room which earns big brownie points around here!  Not to mention, he can name every Star Wars character.  Every. One.

I can't really imagine Oliver being Oliver without his unique quirks.  Since last year, we were able to put a name/diagnosis to it - Sensory Processing Disorder.  It's nice that there's something to recognize what is going on in his brain and how to help him feel right in himself and in the world.  It's nice to get validation as a parent that treating these high emotions as if it's just a tantrum is the worse thing we can do, because his brain is wired a little differently.  The different techniques have been good for all of us and I am sure he is glad we have started to better figure out how to help him daily.  One thing therapy taught me is that I was only putting him in a world that catered to him, clearing out obstacles, situations, tactiles that would provoke a big response, versus teaching him to adapt to the world around him. I think there can be a good balance of both, especially at a young age.


I see SPD daily, although most moments I don't realize it anymore.  Oliver has taught me a lot.  He paved his way for his sister to join our family through adoption and he's made me way less judgemental of other mommas.  When I see a 4 year at the grocery store throwing a "tantrum," I know the ice cream melting and getting his shorts wet is a real problem to him.  It's not a tougher mom he needs, it's a patient, more gentle mom he needs and I applaud her for understanding his emotions. When I take too long at the gas pump because Oliver's socks aren't put on right, I hope the person behind me is patient and sees the consideration I am giving my son versus her in that moment.  I've learned that routine, preparing him for what's next, and lots of sensory time helps him feel balanced and regulated in life.  It's become a pretty natural part of our days and conversations.  I am honored to teach him to adapt to his world and know when it's okay for his world to adapt to him.  I therapist called me a "helicopter mom" because I adapted this big giant world to him.  I didn't apologize for that.  I wanted to tell her, let our babies be babies.  Let our SPD kids gradually cope to this busy, crazy world, because it's a process.  I have learned a good balance though, but I have also learned we must put our children in successful situations to build confidence.  I think Oliver's biggest successes have come from confidence building that his speech teacher helped ignite as well as his loving pre-school teachers and hopefully myself.  Setting Oliver up for success with each new milestone and watching him grow is such a joy.  Regardless of what challenges stay and which ones fade, my wish is he feels happy, centered and adored in life.

And oh man, is he ever adored. Jesus wove him together in ways that make my heart sing! Here's to all the quirky kids and certainly all the quirky middle children!! #quirkyiscool #nationalmiddlechildday



Mei-Mei: Four months

We have been a family of 5 for 4 months now! I really can't believe that. I feel like it was just yesterday I was filling out paperwork longing for the day we would have our precious girl home.

We absolutely love seeing Mei learning to trust and love us. She is quite a brave girl. I feel like I have not gotten a minute to sit down and really share about HER. She's so much fun y'all. Seriously. It's so neat having a child that just LOVES everything. I just got on to all three kids for being crazy people and said "grab a book and read 30 minutes in bed." They all gripped as they went upstairs and Mei happily bounced up the stairs with a chapter book of Lola's just as excited as she could be. Everything is new and fun and such a treat to her.

She has amazing manners like "Please, thank you, and you're welcome" even with her siblings. Her english is impressive and I am so grateful for that. She speaks in sentences and is quickly catching up to Oliver. Her receptive language is superb. She now will ask "Why?" which can sound defiant at times, but she has no idea. Me: Mei put on your shoes baby. Mei: Why? Me: We need to go pick up Ollie. Mei: Okay Mommy. This is us all day long. Haha. She said "y'all" which I can't wait to hear again. Crack me up. She rarely uses any Chinese language anymore.

She stills cries at nights, but lately we have had a few nights where it has been minimal and we hope that happens more and more. She cries out in English now. She tends to say new phrases in her sleep and depending on the phrase it can sound quite dramatic like "go away" over and over. She is still sleeping in our bed as she just isn't ready to sleep alone yet. 

She plays really well with both Lola and Oliver. Her and Oliver can play for a long time when it's just the two of them.  They often seem like twins despite the size difference.  Developmentally they aren't too far apart.  She will asks about them often when they each are at school as well as her daddy. She loves Clay. They have become quite close and share a love for similar foods. She has even let him put her to bed a couple times and occasionally she will let him comfort her at night. She asked to go to work with him today. She will stay with him with no problem during the day and they often frequent the grocery store together.

She is eating so much better and the girl can really eat. I have to remind myself to feed her every hour or so. For lunch today, she ate an entire PBJ sandwich, chips, strawberries, and pretzels. And then she wanted more. Her stomach doesn't look like it could hold near that much food. LOL

She has been sick a good bit with an ear infection, strep and pneumonia. Hoping we can keep her well for awhile now.

She loves going to Oliver's school and her and Ollie are signed up to go three days next school year. She talks about going all the time. She loves to pretend play school at home. And any play for that matter. She loves baby dolls, tiny toys to hold, being outside (minus bright sun), play doh, legos, clothes and any crafty project.

She loves her grandparents and Aunt Kebby and Uncle Nick. My parents have watched her at our house and this past weekend she stayed with Clay's parents for about thirty minutes and had a blast. She is a great mixture of tough and tender hearted. As she gets more trusting, I have noticed the stubbornness is much less however selective hearing may be a little more ;)

We really feel great about her attachment and have become very comfortable in trusting our intuition and accepting the journey of it versus analyzing everything, all the time, which is easy to do at first. I am so glad she was home for her third birthday and we had the perfect day celebrating her. She was the cutest birthday girl ever and she was all about her birthday party! I was so sad the day before her birthday as I wondered what her birth mom was feeling and I just wished I could send her a letter with pictures of our beautiful girl so she knew she was happy, loved and prayed for well before she was born. She surely shines a big bright light in our house. She is the perfect exclamation mark to our family!

Mei's Mom

I was at the park today and felt like Mei's mom.  We've been together almost three months.  The first few days in China I felt this overwhelming sense of love for her.  I just clung to her and she clung to me in her sadness.  I clearly wasn't who she wanted, but she surrendered to the idea of someone was probably better than no one.  It was hard to see her in so much pain.

After a bit, she started letting us in more. And after a bit, I started feeling like I was baby-sitting her.  It was a bizarre, new feeling for me as a mother.  I confidently knew that feeling would fade over time, I was just surprised at how long it would linger.  So today at the park, I didn't see her as an adopted daughter, I didn't see her as a child someone was late picking up after work, and I didn't see her as the orphan she once was.  I saw her as my own.  I have more and more moments like this and I LOVE them.  I normally don't recognize the moments till after the fact, which is even more encouraging, because it's just so genuine and intimate to me.  

Clay and I are crazy, ridiculously proud of our family.  We love that we decided to really take a leap out of our own comfort zones and say yes to adoption.  If you want to talk adoption, you'll clearly see the excitement in my voice.  As hard as the last three months have been, and they've been hard for me, for her, for us- it's the most confident I have been in my marriage, my family, and the direction our lives are heading.  

My social worker has been the sweetest and she recently reminded me that I am filling up her bucket and one day I will look back and it will be full.  The visual of her bucket and my love, patience, and commitment filling it up was something I needed to hear this week.  I repeat this often to myself.  Where the hard part is, with all kids, especially traumatized kids, they have different size holes in their buckets that may cause their water to leak a little or a lot.  You have to determine where the holes are and how best to repair them while still pouring water into the bucket.  It's the best analogy to help me get it, others get it, and to visualize as an encouragement to myself to keep pouring.  My son, who was recently diagnosed with SPD along with anxiety and speech delays, has holes in his bucket too.  And Lola, my go-with-the-flow child, doesn't really have any holes in her bucket right now, unfortunately meaning she isn't getting a lot of extra water added right now by me.  Luckily, all my kids and myself have super awesome people adding love to all of our buckets. Praise Jesus for bucket fillers and the village it takes to do life!  

The other day, I admit, I just had a melt down.  The kind you'd rather your hubby not see, because ugly cry is an understatement.  I needed it and it was all good, but Mei witnessed it all.  She ran to me and sat in my lap then quickly got down and ran off.  I felt a little defeated until I heard those sweet, sweet little footsteps pitter patter back towards me and my baby girl had toilet paper wadded up her in itty bitty hands to wipe my eyes.  I couldn't have needed her and God's love and grace more in that moment.  Mei, I love wiping your eyes and seeing your tears turn to smiles and I am so glad you are here to wipe my eyes too and give us all so many reasons to smile.  I love being your mama.  And we all love being your family.   


Part 1: Adoption and biological children

So a common concern some parents have when considering adoption is the affect this will have on their biological children.  I think when making any big decisions in life, you have to really consider your family (as most good families do) and adoption is no different.  Adoption is much different than pregnancy in the fact you do have the ability to decide lots of things: age, gender, and special needs.  This can be really hard, yet really beneficial.  Clay and I weren't overly concerned about any negative impact this would have on the kids long term.  We really felt like the positive impact it would have, would far outweigh the negative and I still can't list any major negatives. Plus, kids pour out love.  They are so giving and open. We should learn from them! Some thoughts we had on gender, age, and special needs in regards of thinking about it with L and O in mind:

1. We knew for us at this time, changing birth order wasn't a wise idea.  We knew Lola needed to stay the oldest and Oliver needed to feel like big brother so we were only open to children younger than him.  If that wasn't the case, I would have LOVED to adopt a 4 or 5 year old and Clay was very drawn to children much older than that. FYI: Ollie and Mei are just 11 months apart. 
2. Gender- that was easy when considering the kids desires.  Lola wanted a sister so bad and when Oliver was born and turned out to be a boy, she asked "why is she a he?"  And a few days after he was born she asked if "he was still a boy?"  They've been best buds and she quickly choose to see the JOY in having a brother, but we knew she'd be much more on board with the adoption if she was gaining a sister.  And I have a sister and just really wanted to give her that same gift… but now that I have- you know what that means.  Ollie really needs a brother. ;)  Boys are awesome. And so are even numbers. 
3. Special needs: This one can be really hard.  It's a very personal choice/matter.  After being involved in this amazing adoption community and seeing such a wide range of medical needs, our list was pretty open.  There were a few needs that were very close to my heart, yet not in the best interest of our children right now. I would encourage all parents to educate themselves through experienced parents (not google) before deciding what you are or aren't open to. 
Some ways this has been amazing for our kids: 

1. This adoption process was very time consuming for me.  I sewed dolls to raise extra money, fundraised, did lots of paperwork, applied to lots of grants which means more paperwork, and cut back sonic trips, target trips and extra curricular activities. (to name a few things) This didn't go unnoticed by the kids or husband.  At times I felt guilty, but I knew they'd understand one day soon. Plus, we can't have the mentality "we get what we want, when we want it" for several reasons.  I hung a sign during this process in my work room that reads "Don't hope for it, more than you work for it." I wanted a third child and I have a deep desire to see orphans in loving homes. My goodness, I was going to work hard for it! I am glad my children see that.  Is this a good time to add "God doesn't make wussy women!" 
2. I don't want my children to be colorblind.  I want them to be aware of skin color, differences, and cultures so they can celebrate it with a welcoming heart and use their compassion to be an example and make a stand. 
3. I wanted my kids to have a playmate.  Adopting a two year old gives them an instant playmate. Bam!
4. My children will be more mindful and considerate of those with disabilities or differences.  At 6 and 3, we are learning a lot about this through experiences and conversations. I am so proud of them.  
5. I could go on and on but I will end with, my hope is their experience in China and having an adopted sister plants a big fat seed in their heart for all the other children without.  I hope to water that seed throughout their childhood.  

So tonight right before bedtime, I asked Mei to sit down while she finished drinking her milk from a carton.  She's use to this and always sits down on the tile so spills aren't a big deal.  I decided to sit down next to her.  Then she moves to my lap and leans close to my chest as she does often.  Then here comes Lola and she joins us.  It's actually pretty quiet as we all are pretty tired, but then Lola looks up and says sweetly "the paperwork was all worth it." I was in la-la land and it took me a minute to figure out what paperwork she was talking about. Then I realized the adoption paperwork… "Yes it was Lola." And then she smiled and said "and she was worth the wait." By this point my chin is quivering and I felt my heart fill up with lots and lots of thankfulness for my family.  All 5 of us.  

My friends, don't be fooled by fear, you are gifting yourself and your children when you choose adoption. 

Little Green Chair (Orphanage Visit)

I have mixed feelings about sharing Mei's past and considering the lack of information we do have, I feel like she gets the gift of knowing the few details we know.  With that being said, when I look at this precious, deserving face- some of the truths get to be told so more deserving faces find forever families and orphanages get more help.  I think there’s an appropriate balance and I hope I hit it.   

The day we visited her orphanage was the hardest day of my life. This is truth. We had Lola and Oliver with us, along with Aunt Kebby.  Our entrance didn't go as planned and I was caught off guard right away and very overwhelmed.  Very.  Mei went through a serious of emotions then settled right back in to her "home," her orphanage. I am sharing this picture for several reasons…. keep reading.  These plastics, green chairs sit in a room about the size of my living room.  It is filled with metal cribs lined with wood boards, and these chairs.  It lacked everything. Everything.  Orphanages are funded by their cities and unfortunately this orphanage is in a very, very poor area.  We didn’t need our guide to explain this.  It was obvious.  There were no toys, no food, no color, no sunlight.  It smelled.  It felt very and oddly uncomfortable, despite the warm welcome and nannies who were lined up to greet Mei.  In fact, a couple nannies came on their day off with tear filled eyes to say good-bye to Mei one more time.  It was clear she was loved and she loved them back. When we all got inside the building and tears subsided, Mei handed out some of the food we brought.  This was the first time we saw her walk or converse.  We were shocked.  She was quite the talker.  She told anther child to get up from her chair (her spot) and she sat down confidently, despite being the smallest child walking.

Then my heart dropped.   

My child, my spoken-for, no longer an orphan child… she looked like an orphan again.  Despite our preparation, nonstop love of just three short days, co-sleeping, cute Target dress and hair bow, and a full belly… she looked like she belonged there.  She was comfortable, even “in her element” so to speak.  A couple times I had to look for her twice, because she truly blended back in.  I was speechless.  I can barely remember the entire visit due to the overwhelming feeling of sadness and shock.  I was blown away with such deep, heart-grabbing sadness.  I also was grieving more than ever for her loss. Despite it all, this was and had been her home for almost three years. I just stared at her.  I felt somewhat angry.  Not at her, just the reality of it all.  If someone asked Mei if she’d like to stay there or go back with us, I honestly think she would have chosen to stay.  I wanted to use every muscle in my body and rip her out of the green chair.  I wanted to tell her with love and conviction "I have better for you sweet child! I can give you so much more! Trust me! There's better joy ahead. There's more things to dream of. "  It was beyond gut-wrenching.  Beyond heart-breaking.  I hated she looked like she fit there.  None of the kids fit there, yet none of them know that.  These kids need voices.  They need volunteers.  Food. Familes.  Interaction.  Stimulation.  Medical care. They need us.  They need orphan prevention.  They need education.  They need more.  

On the way home, Mei grieved outwardly for an hour.  It was a hard hour, but one she needed and we prayed for.  The trip was hard on everyone, but no doubt a priceless decision for our family and for Mei.  She needed closure.  The trip, her nannies, and the union of us all together seemed to give her just that.  We are glad to have a small piece of her past.  

I have spent a lot of time thinking about her sitting in that green chair… and you know what friends…  I think I realized during those moments what God’s hope is for us.  He doesn’t wish us to sit comfortably in our green chairs when there’s something better for us.  I hope I always have the faith, the bravery, the guts, the ability to take a step towards his urges in my life, big or small, complicated or simple.  Yes, adoption was one for us, but what’s the next one?  Can I be big enough to do it? Wise enough to recognize it?  Faithful enough to trust it?  I am going to screw up a lot.  My relationships won’t be perfect.  My life might be messy at times.  But I hope to have a heart full of joy and always willing to take a leap of faith.  I think in my life, I will regret saying no more than I will regret saying Yes Lord.  And my I add a thank you to those who helped us with this yes.  It does take a village in life. 

Don’t let me sit in that green chair all my life God.  May I rest in you and move forward in you. 

And you know, I have that exact little green chair here in Texas now.  May it always remind me of God’s love for us.     

Meet Mei Haixia

Meet Mei Haixia.  Can you stand the cuteness?! Because I certainly cannot! We just adore this little one and can't wait to have her home and get to know her.  Like I can't wait.  This sweet face makes my heart pitter patter to a whole new beat. 

Mei Haixia is 2.5 years old.  Hai Xia is her chinese name which we are keeping.  We actually call her this quite often at home.  If you are part of our private adoption FB group, our video includes L and O saying her name.  I hope her nanny knows they tried their hardest to say it correctly.  It makes my heart melt every time I hear it.  Her name means "the rosy clouds from the sunset at a harbor."  We've been told her name is truly unique and special.  I love it.     

In August of 2012, I was on family vacation at a beautiful beach after a really hard 6 months… I was sitting on the balcony overlooking the ocean by myself one afternoon… and in that moment, I knew so confidently I had a little girl in China for us.  I remember wiping away the tears as it all became so clear.  In those moments, my heart started to fill up with love for this child I was years away from meeting.  Skip a lot of details, fast forward to now and here she is.  God feels so real, so faithful and so big in my adult life.  Now I think about that month, August of 2012, I imagine her birth mother had just recently found out she was pregnant.  Maybe we both shared tears that month and the months to follow over the same precious little girl.  I am so grateful she chose life for her.      

When I look at the few pictures we have of Mei Haixia, it's a reminder I don't know much about her. We treasure the pictures we have of her, but I realize they are pictures.  It leaves a lot for you to wonder.  It leaves me heartbroken for the time we haven't had her and heartbroken for her loss.  It also leaves me excited to get to know her, to pour lots of love into her, and to give her two excited siblings.  I wonder what did she look like as a baby?  What does she look like when she is smiling?  Is she quiet and reserved or loud and energetic?  Is she a picky eater?  Does she snore? Does she have any birthmarks? Despite wondering these things, I have no expectations... Just a deep desire to have her home and to get to know her.  And to kiss those cheeks.  

Social workers tell you to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  That's just what we are doing.  Despite how hard or easy the next several months will be, we love Mei and life will be better simply because she's with us.  We love her unconditionally.  We will love her in ways that is best for her.  We will love uniquely as each child needs their own kind of love.  All four of us can't wait to love on her. This family of 5 is ready to have our fifth one home!  Praying the next few steps fly by without any delays and praying for our Mei Haixia.