Archive for September, 2011

One Year Home!!!

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011
9/2010 – One year ago, only a few days home, playing with the camera. :)

Time is such a mystery.  I don’t know if I will ever understand how the same event can seem like it happened last week, and at the very same time feel like an eternity ago.  That sums up my feelings about Jasmine’s first year home.  Weren’t we in China just a couple months ago?  But hasn’t she always been with our family?  The fact is, we met her in China 1 year ago on September 6th, and she became officially ours 1 year ago on my birthday, September 7th.  (She still likes to remind me, “Remember when you said I was your present?  And I said, ‘I am not your present.  How can I be in a box?!’”  Funny girl!)  And one year ago, on September 18th, we brought her to her new home to stay.  That was also the day she became as U.S. citizen!  I don’t think she quite grasps it yet (nor do the rest of our children), what being a U.S. citizen means, but I know one day they will.  They are coming much closer to understanding since we’re living in China.  There are differences and they see those, and they are beginning to understand and appreciate the freedoms we often take for granted.

I hardly know where to begin in summing up our past year.  I have always known that God, as our Father, knows each of us and knows exactly what we need, but sometimes I forget.  Bringing our sweet daughter home has reminded me of that this past year.  How much of a child can you really know after reading a brief description of her medical and personal background?  Not much.  I read so many older child adoption stories–ranging from blissful and joyous to painful and frightening–that I really wondered what our story would be.  Well, I knew our Father knew us, and that he knew this little girl, and she was meant to be ours.  She has done so beautifully in our family.  Why did I ever doubt?  It sounds so simple now, looking back at it all, but I really had to exercise a lot of faith to get here!

Lest I give an inaccurate account, let me say that this year has not been without its challenges.  They seem so mild compared to what others have experienced, and they have paled in comparison to the joy that she brings us now.  But, for historical accuracy, here are some things we faced:

  • occasional language barriers and miscommunications
  • a few minor physical challenges mostly related to her hemiplegia
  • challenges with school work
  • pouting and mild, toddler-like tantrums (usually related to said school work)
  • overcoming cultural differences (food, manners, etiquette, etc.)

I may be missing something from that list, but that is really all I can come up with at the moment.  Jasmine really did make it pretty easy for us.  She was such a brave little girl and put enough trust in us–strangers she’d never met–to follow us willingly to the other side of the world.  :)

Now that we have had the privilege of knowing her for a year I am so much more aware of the blessing that we’ve been given to be her family.  Living in China, she hears all the time that she is “lucky.”  (She was an orphan, but now has a family–an AMERICAN family–so the Chinese people tell her she is “lucky.”)  But I hope she knows by now that we’re the lucky ones.  So, what makes this girl so special?  What makes us the lucky ones?  Some of the first things we learned about her were written by her ayis (nannies in the orphanage) in her file.  Two of the things they said really stand out to me: “She is a good girl” and “She is a happy girl.”  That is Jasmine!  Happy and smiling, always helpful and obedient.  She would rather be helping us wash dishes or do laundry than playing.  Really!  She is very affectionate, loves hugs and loves to sit on our laps.  (Although she’s getting a little heavy for that!)  She is kind and generous and a hard worker.  She is cheerful and quick about being obedient.  A little praise for her goes a long way and she will give you 110% if she knows it will make you happy.  She is truly happiest when she can help others be happy!  Wow.  I wish I could say I’m half as good as she is.

She is also a faithful daughter of God.  I honestly didn’t know how this aspect of the adoption would work out.   Because she came home as an older child, we wanted to share our faith with her and then let her choose.  Well, she learned about prayer our first night together as a family in China, and quickly became the first to remind us to pray if we forget!  When she learned about baptism just a few weeks home she responded almost anxiously, “I want to be baptized right now!”  We had to convince her to wait a couple months so she could learn a bit more first. :)  I could go on and on about her faith.  It is simple, yet strong and growing.  She has asked so many great questions and learned so much over the past year.  It’s hard to remember that a year ago she knew nothing about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We are grateful for our newest addition, and have grown to love her as we do each of our children.  Even more amazing, she has come to love her crazy new family, despite all our flaws!  I hope I can remember every day, especially on the not-so-perfect days, all the goodness that I see in her right now as I reflect on last year together.  And now, here are some pictures of our sweet girl over the last year!  She’s grown… :)

9/26/2010 - One week home, with siblings.

10/31/2010 - 1 month home, first Halloween!

12/4/2010 - 2 1/2 months home, our first forever family photo. :)

12/25/2011 - 3 months home, first Christmas!

1/5/2010 - 3 1/2 months home, flying to China!

3/2011 - 6 months home, sooo happy about her "long" hair!

5/2011 - 8 months home, eating pizza that's bigger than she is. :)

6/14/2011 - 9 months home, first birthday with our family!

7/2011 - 10 months home, with cousin Celeste at her first Giles family reunion.

7/2011 - 10 months home, family photo!

9/2011 - Our "Jazzy Wazzy," ONE YEAR HOME!!!