Monday, February 28, 2011

One Year

*I meant to post this Friday (the 25th) but life got in the way.
One year ago in Beijing, China, Stu and I had a quiet, timid little boy placed in our arms. That shyness lasted about ten minutes, until we pulled out the Cheerios. We quickly got our first giggle and the smiles haven't stopped since. Pudding is quite possibly the happiest child I have ever seen. People ask if I have any pictures of Pudding where he is not smiling; the truth is I probably don't. He wakes up (even at 3 a.m.) with a huge grin on his face and it stays there all day long. Even when HD takes his favorite cat, he tries to give her a mean look but dissolves into giggles within seconds. It's a good thing that he is so darn cute, because that smile often keeps me from wringing his little neck. I thought after three kids I would be prepared for almost anything. Wrong! Pudding is constantly demonstrating how inept my child-proofing efforts are; of course, I'm not sure that even Fort Knox is Pudding-proofed. He can find trouble anywhere he goes and leaves a trail of disaster in his wake. I had no idea how much joy this little boy would bring to our family...and I wouldn't change one single second of the past year. I can't wait to see the coming year brings our family.

Pudding enjoying his "Family Day" celebration

Pudding with his very tired, happy Mama

Our Happy Boy

Monday, February 21, 2011

Reactions and Details

As we have started to share our good news with friends and family, I have been amazed at what a warm welcome our announcement has received. Not that we were expecting people to be rude; but in all honestly, we received a lot of less-than-enthusiastic responses after we announced we started the journey for Pudding. I wrongly assumed that our news about #5 would be met with a similar response. Of course we have received the standard "Are you guys crazy??" question, but most people have been genuinely happy for us and can't wait to meet Sprout. Most family members haven't even seemed too surprised by our news. I've only received two negative responses which, ironically enough, were preceded by "You are such a good mother with an amazing family, but...". If they believe I'm such a good mother then why would they think that Stu or I would make a decision that would be bad for our family? Instead of getting defensive, I've just smiled and said our entire family was very excited about our newest addition and we were doing what feels right to us. The older I get the more I realize that I need to focus on what makes me (and my family) happy and not worry about what others may think. Living in a small town makes that a little difficult at times, but I'm working on it.
Many of you had questions about our little Sprout that I didn't include in the last post.
Sprout turned two-years-old the week of Christmas; Stu is none-too-happy about another Christmas birthday (mine is the week before) but I'm so happy I'll have somebody else with whom to celebrate our "birthday month"! This means she is nine months younger than HotDog and sixteen months younger than Pudding. Yikes! I can't even imagine how busy I'll be with three young toddlers. Amazingly, due to their birthdays they could all be in different grades (though it looks more and more likely that we will be holding Pudding back a year which will put him in the same grade as HD).
Also, our little Sprout is waiting for us in Shanghai. I am SO excited about getting to travel to Shanghai. Stu and I both agreed after Pudding's adoption trip that we would love to visit China again and Shanghai would be our first stop. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that we would be traveling there to pick up our daughter! With Pudding being from Beijing and Sprout waiting for us in Shanghai, I'm a little disappointed that we don't get to see the rural areas of China; we will just have to save that part of sight-seeing when we make a heritage tour when the children are older.
Many of you have asked about Sprout's health. Just like Pudding, we found her on a waiting child list. After talking to our pediatrician, we were open to a wide variety of special needs but thought we would probably pursue another child with heart disease/defect (like Pudding). However, Sprout's special need is one we never even considered; she has an underdeveloped thyroid. That's it. When we found Sprout's file, I was sure that there was something else in her medicals because her special need seemed so minor. But a thyroid defect seems to be her only medical issue. She will be on thyroid medication for the rest of her life and she will have to get a monthly blood draw to check her hormone levels. But it is completely manageable and she should be able to live a long, healthy life.
I'm hoping to send another care package to our cutie soon and am keeping my fingers crossed we will receive and updated picture of her. In the meantime, I'll leave you with a baby picture of our little Sprout.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Here We Grow Again!

Another three months since my last post, but I have a good reason this time. We have been keeping a big secret and I didn't want to spill the beans before we were ready. Well, now we are ready and I can shout it from the rooftop...we are adding another little one to our family!! I'm sure this may surprise some of you, but no one is more surprised than us.
After Thanksgiving, I began to feel a little tug that our family might not be complete. I couldn't let go of the idea of HotDog having a sister. She adores her brothers and has a lot of fun with them, but a sister relationship is so different. I threw the idea out to Stu, thinking he would immediately dismiss it. Imagine my surprise when, a few days later, he came home and said we should do it! I couldn't believe it. I've been a member of several groups that advocate for waiting/special needs children in China since Pudding's adoption so I immediately started to search. I inquired about one little girl who looked like she would be a perfect fit for our family. Unfortunately I was told she was on hold for another family. I continued to search and looked at a few other files but I couldn't get the first little girl out of my mind. I couldn't believe it when I saw her mentioned again on an advocacy blog. I contacted the agency coordinator (she was on an agency's individual list) who said the other family had declined and she sent us her file. I immediately sent the file to our pediatrician for review but knew in my heart we had found our girl. After getting thumbs-up from our pediatrician the next day, we sent in our LOI and received PA the very next day. Since then we've been busy updating our homestudy and meeting with our social worker. We are thrilled that we can take advantage of China's new rule, allowing us to reuse our old dossier since our last adoption was less than a year ago. It is saving us a little bit of money and a whole lot of hassle. We are now waiting (im)patiently for our I800 approval so we can send all of our paperwork to China and let the real wait for our little sweetie begin. Assuming the rest of our process proceeds smoothly, we are hoping to pick up her up in late summer (I'm keeping my fingers crossed for August).
While I know this sounds like a spontaneous and random decision, this is not something we decided without a lot of soul-searching. We discussed (a lot) whether we had the time and energy for another child, while at the same time making sure that it wouldn't have a negative impact on our four children at home. There were (and still are) moments of pure panic where I think to myself, "What in the world are we doing??!!?" Honestly, at this point our household operates in contained-chaos mode and we usually have extra children in and out of our house. Our house may be loud and messy, but it's fun and full of love.
I'll post another entry soon with updates on the Bigs and the Littles as well as a look back on Pudding's first-year with our family (can you believe it has almost been a year?!?!). But right now, I'd like to introduce you to our newest little girl...affectionately dubbed "Sprout" by her big brothers.