It's hard to even believe that this picture was taken on Dec.28, 2009, almost three months ago ! Maggie came to us as a quiet, floppy, shocked little girl. She had no idea what was happening and really neither did we. We had no idea what a complete JOY and BLESSING Maggie is or how much we would love her immediately. We also didn't know she was deaf. Looking back at our China pictures now, I see how Maggie was so confused and detached. She couldn't hear what was happening around her and she had to have been scared to death. She did not respond to her Chinese name or to our voices, she did not take a bottle for three days, got very constipated, continually looked at her hands and laid her right ear down on tables or floors to hear the vibrations. She preferred to lay down on the floor rather than sit up. Her little body went through so much as she grieved and tried to understand what was happening. I think her way of dealing with all the changes was to just shut down. How could she have known that we were going to love and care for her, that she would have a forever family and all the hugs and kisses she could stand. She couldn't. She didn't. But, that is ok. We have taken it slow, and day by day we have watched her unfold like a beautiful flower.
Her special need was multiple: A heart condition called VSD (small) and microtia/atresia ( later we found out she has severe hearing loss a.k.a. deaf) We were told she could say bababa, smile, stand on her own and that she was lively and liked musical toys. All the pictures of her showed her to be a very healthy looking little girl. We had done all the research, read special needs blogs, attended a seminar on what to expect when you adopt internationally and prayed a lot for our daughter.
I remember when I first saw her through the curtain at the adoption center in Guangzhou. Maggie looked a little like her pictures, but really she looked different. I saw her head was crooked to one side, her facial expression was out of sorts, she had what looked like bug bites on her face and her head was oddly misshapen. Chuck and I waited till it was our time to officially meet Maggie and she was first handed to me. With a pink toy duck in one hand, I reached out to Maggie. Finally, I was holding my baby girl. This was the moment I had dreamed about for so long. There was a big smile on my face and my heart was beating so fast. I took a good look at her. I loved her so much already and it was evident Maggie had some things to overcome. She was more like an infant than a 14 month old. She would lean way back when I held her and she stared at her hands constantly. At one moment, I stopped to pray and tearfully thank God for Maggie, I asked for wisdom to be her mother and I prayed that Maggie's pain would be washed away, that she would know she is accepted and not rejected. It was a crazy Gotcha day and I was so overcome with emotions and questions. Was she ever held ? Did she ever have toys to play with ? Just how neglected was she ? I thought she was lively and talking ? What really went on in her orphanage ? I had a feeling that Maggie was severely neglected. I was right. I also watched her intently and knew that she was very smart and she was a fighter, chosen by God to be my daughter, and destined to overcome her special needs. I saw it. I knew it. My heart felt it.
Although we did a lot of research on what to expect and knew the self soothing and floppy, flat affect was "normal" for a child that was institutionalized in an orphanage in China, nothing can really prepare you for the reality of it. You see, Maggie was just another baby in the orphanage. She probably spent over twenty hours by herself in a lonely crib with no toys and no sounds. She learned not to cry and to sooth herself by rocking back and forth and looking at her hands. She was given a bottle with a big opening filled with formula and rice cereal. It would have been propped up and too bad if it spilled. Everything was on a tight schedule. She was bathed with cold water that was poured over her. She learned to just survive. I was once told by a fellow adoptive mom, Katherine G, that there is a difference in surviving and thriving . She's so right.
Because now, we see Maggie thriving. She laughs and smiles, plays and discovers, hugs and snuggles. She is changing every day into this bright, sweet little girl that we knew was there somewhere. Sure, we still have days where she looks lost and sad or she stares at her hands too long like she doesn't know what to do. But then, she's back and laughing in her daddy's arms. All Maggie needed was love, someone to give her a chance, to believe in her and tell her she matters. Her special need was that she needed a family. Everything else is minor compared to that need. She has completely and totally captured our hearts and we are forever changed. How could we not be ?
Would we adopt a special needs child again ? Yes !!! A thousand times yes. Was it worth all the unknowns, money and time ? Yes ! Every child is precious and important - the whole and the broken, the sick and lame. My heart breaks to know that there are 147 million little Maggie's around the world that need a family and someone to say to them " you matter, God loves you and so do I". My prayer is that by sharing Maggie's story, more families will hear the cry of the orphans and say YES to adoption. I pray also that James 1:27 will burn in the heart of Christians " Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our father means that we must care for orphans".
Thankfully, Maggie's story does not end here. But, that will have to be in Part 2.
1. This goes back to a post the other day from Kathy about our life as viewed from the blog. We do live a pretty normal life and do have our fair share of problems, disagreements, disciplining issues, heated fellowship.... you get the point. One thing Kathy and I do, and have done, is that we don't lay down without being at peace with one another. This principal comes from Ephesians 4:26 "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold". It's just not worth it. Let me stop here and say that if you are searching for an answer to one of life's many questions... give God a chance to answer it... try the Bible. So, here is the gist of what I want to say in point 1. As you sit on the front row of our life and peer in the window know this, Anything you see that's good comes from the One True God. It has nothing at all to do with our smarts, degrees, achievements, job, house, car.... you get the point. I want any and everybody to know that if it were not for Jesus I would not be in the place I am today. Our marriage is what it is today because of what God has done with the broken piece we'll continually bring Him. I give Him all the glory! We hope this blog exudes Jesus and gives hope to those that may have lost it somewhere along the way. Here is another great pearl from the Word of God: Acts 10:34 "And Peter opened his mouth and said: Most certainly and thoroughly I now perceive and understand that God shows no partiality and is no respecter of persons". Wow!! What He does for one, He will do for another!
2. We would like to invite any and everyone to the Will Graham Celebration this weekend at the Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum. These free services will be held Friday and Saturday night at 6:30 and Sunday night at 6:00 pm. We have invited a lot of folks and would love to see them come. I believe this event is going to be big and I am excited to see what God's going to do. I believe in Unity and believe the Church is coming together from all denominations and we will in one voice praise the King. If you are new to this thing... God LOVES it when we praise Him. There is going to be some great music from some of the leading Christian artist and a great message of Hope from Will Graham. Will Graham is the grandson of the great Billy Graham and has the same evangelistic call of his life. We are going to have a wonderful time each night. If you would like to go and don't want to go alone, email us and we would love to have you join our family. Here's a link to the event where you can find all the info you'll need.
I really didn't want to take a spring break this year. We are still recovering from our China trip and Chuck has to work the week of Spring Break. Also, there really is no reason for us to take a specific spring break because we home-school and take random breaks throughout the year and go on family trips. Our favorites are going camping and beach trips to Gulf Shores, Alabama. Ahh, the fluffy white beaches....I am really wanting needing a beach trip in the worst way. I miss everything about the beach and somehow, it doesn't seem like Spring Break without a good ol' beach trip. But, I am not taking three children on a beach trip by myself.
So, after several rainy, cold days, we ditched the school work and headed over to Tuscaloosa for a family birthday party and some time with Ninny and Papa ( Chuck's parents).
Maggie felt real, green grass for the first time ! She was not too happy about it and kept her hand closed.
Chuck's dad (Papa) made these Mandolins himself ! He is an incredible, talented wood worker and can make anything. He showed the boys how to play a Mandolin during our visit. Since Will plays the violin and Walker plays the guitar, they were very interested. We love bluegrass music and I love that Papa took the time to show the boys about this beautiful instrument.
Now, back to school Monday morning. Hope everyone had a great Spring Break !
I love Blogging about Maggie and our family. It allows me to journal about our day to day life and all the crazy,beautiful memories I don't want to ever forget. Because, really. How much do I want to trust my mind to remember what my children looked like on a warm spring day or the funny way Maggie pokes her lip out ? I used to scrapbook, but that was so 2008. Now, it's much easier to upload some pictures and type away. But, since our blog is open to everyone and anyone I have to sensor what I say and what pictures I post. Hence, it may look like we have a "perfect" life going on here in Beamsville. That is obviously not the case and I don't know anyone with a perfect life or family. Don't get me wrong, we are so BLESSED and I love my life and family. I just felt the need to explain that we are a normal family with normal children.
And we have our moments. Ok there. I said it. Done.
Sometimes it's just the simple things. Maggie loves her easter eggs. She thinks they are colorful balls to play with. We have been practicing getting things out of containers (occupational therapy) to strengthen her hand and eye coordination. It seems when you are in an orphanage, lying in a bed all day with no toys, you have consequently poor fine motor skills. Maggie has great gross motor skills ( she can climb stairs, sit, walk a little, stand,etc), but her hands still need strengthening. She has come a long way though. In China, she could not even hold a toy and would drop anything placed in her hand. She can hold toys with great ease now and switch them from right to left hand. Maggie will start occupational therapy with Early Intervention soon and they will come to our house for her therapy. Awesome.
This girl is limber ! It is amazing how flexible her legs are.
Maggie is officially a Ball Park Baby. We are at the ball park almost every day now for practices and games.
Maggie loves Charlie, especially when his little nubby tail wags right in her face. She is learning that "dogie says woof !" in speech therapy. When I ask her where is the dogie, she looks for him and smiles.
This is not the best picture of Maggie with her cute purple car ( thanks Kathy T. !). She just would not cooperate with the camera. Every time she sees me with the camera, she drops what she's doing and crawls over to touch or lick the camera. So, right now, I am not getting a lot of cute, smiley Maggie pictures. Just lots of blurry, cute, smiley Maggie pictures. Anyway, if you could see how SWEET Maggie is pushing her baby doll around in her car. She will push it all day, all around the house. She loves it ! That is, until she hits a wall. Then she just keeps hitting the wall until I turn her around. So funny !
Lastly, I am very happy to report that after two months of bath time misery, Maggie loves her bath ! I mean really loves it !! Now, she wants to just sit and play, spin around in the water, kick her legs with joy and splash her hands. She loves to play with her bath toys and almost jumps into her bath at night with wild delight. Thank you Lord for this breakthrough and for our sweet, beautiful daughter.
Maggie found out how to play "Ring Around The Rosie's" the other day and boy does she love it ! She wants to do it over and over.
Thankfully, Will didn't mind going round and round and getting dizzy...and of course "falling down".
Maggie is also learning how to rock in her little rocking chair. Oh, how she loves it ! She also loves this little purple octopus that we play many games with over and over. I let it walk up her tummy and when it gets to her neck I say (eeeek ! - part of her speech therapy). She then laughs and waits for me to do it again. I also hide Mr. eeeek and let her find it - also another new skill.
This week she figured out how to roll a toy with wheels When she figured this cute purple elephant rolled, she held onto it all day and just switched it from her left to right hand. The little handle made it so easy for her to carry all over the house.
And, this is our little cutie walking a couple of steps by herself. She really is steady on her feet, and not afraid to walk by herself. It won't be long and she will be running !
These new skills may not be that exciting to anyone else. But, they are milestones for Maggie. Only two short months ago, she was sitting on a hotel bed in China staring at her hands and had no clue what a toy was. It was very obvious to us that Maggie had never played with a toy. She didn't have a clue what a toy was and was happy just touching wood,feeling a chair or playing with her hands. We have had to show Maggie what playing is and how to play with toys. She is a very quick learner and has NO problem playing now. At first, we would get just one toy out at a time so we wouldn't overwhelm her. Now, her room is scattered with toys and she has so much fun playing and laughing ! Sometimes, I find myself just watching her play. It's like watching a light come on when there was just darkness.
So, I have been a little busy lately. I finally put my Super Mom cape back on and it has been wonderful to be back to normal. Walker and Will started base ball practice this week, Maggie had speech therapy ( still doing great - YEAH !), Home schooling is taking a lot of my time but this has been our best year ever.
Just look at Walker's smile. My boys love their sister and it is the sweetest, most happiest thing to watch them with Maggie. Their love for her is so pure. They respect and honor her and have learned so much (first hand) about compassion and gentleness. Oh, and I have finally been back to my sewing. I made this dress and a couple of boutique pants with ruffles. I get a little addicted to sewing for Maggie.
It's just so stinkin' fun !
I love this picture of Maggie because she was having a 'bad hair day'. Do you see that hair sticking up in the back ? I think her hair is growing and is in the awkward stages. But still so cute.
I just had to take a picture of Maggie when she was asleep. I want to remember how sweet it is to see her all cuddled up with her Minnie ( thank you employee pharmacy !) and all snug under her handmade blanket from Mrs. Dennis ( thank you !!!). I think it is so sweet that she has her arm around her Minnie.
And lastly, our Maggie is such a ham. She has a very silly side to her that I get to see now and then. God is so good and I am still so amazed that Maggie is here, in my arms and in our family. I have so many thoughts about special needs adoptions and am hoping to write that post soon to get these thoughts out of my head and onto paper. I can't imagine our life with out her and her life with out us. She no doubt would have never had the chance to have a hearing aid or to speek normally. She would have been classified as an unfit, unable to be educated, or to learn a trade. It is unthinkable ! Maggie's future is so bright. No doubt she will be a Godly woman that will make such a difference in this world. Her spirit is so strong. Her Joy for life is so big. Her abilities are endless. We are just beginning to see what Maggie can do and it is amazing to watch her '"come alive".
Hi !This started as a blog to keep our friends and family updated on our adoption process. Now, I blog about our life with two boys and our adopted, hearing impaired daughter. You won't find professional,touched up photos or life changing quotes. Just real,fun life.