Tag Archives: Hong Kong adoption

The Reward is Sweet

Yesterday marks four months from the day we met Esther.  The day I felt like 10,000 butterflies were attaching my tummy.  The day our world was forever changed.

Today marks four months from the day Noah and Esther met.  The day Noah realized that Esther was much more than some girl in a picture.  More than just a short video clip.  She began to learn that Esther was someone who she would have to share her Mommy with.  Her Daddy with.  Her room and her toys with.  Her life with.

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So what’s that like?  It isn’t easy.  But really when is it ever easy for a toddler to gain a new sibling?  It’s been difficult but I wouldn’t change it and and definitely don’t regret it.  Noah loved Esther from day one.  Often times more than Esther wanted to be loved by her “new” sister.  But despite all her love, coming back home and sharing everything with Esther was hard.  Plus throw in some new molars, a few more toddler milestones, and learning how to make decisions on your on and it was almost overload for Noah in the beginning.

I’m not going to go into the details but during our first few weeks back it wasn’t uncommon for Noah to spend half the day in tears.  Despite the tears she really didn’t want to be comforted but instead just wallow in her unhappiness.  It happens to the best of us.

As the weeks turned to months things improved.  The girls have slowly learned what personal property is.  We have “named” certain toys as Esther’s or Noah’s and the majority are shared.  And the biggest helper of all has been the TIMER.  It has given me sanity on many chaotic moments.  Let me explain.

Let’s say Noah is playing with the doll.  Esther then decides that this is the toy she wants to play with.  No other toy will do.  It has to be this one right now.  RIGHT NOW!!!  Moms, you know what I’m talking about.  This is the point where I intervene and we talk about sharing and loving others.  I might ask Noah if she will let Esther play with the doll.  Fat chance that will happen though. I might ask Esther if she can find something else she wants to play with. Yeah right!  So then I intervene and say we are going to set a timer and in three minutes Esther can play with the doll.  They agree and the timer goes off three minutes later…

no complaints.  It’s amazing!  They don’t protest an inanimate third party. It’s genius I tell you.  They gladly swap and then ask for the timer to be set again.  I love it!!!  Thanks Lifeline Children’s Services.  (Lifeline is another reason for my sanity.  If I’m having a bad day I can just call their post adoptio

n social workers and they are there to listen and help me as needed.  I wish every mom had someone to call like them.)

Something amazing has happened in the past two weeks though.

My girls have really started playing together.  I don’t mean playing together for two minutes and then erupti
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ng in an argument over a toy. I mean playing together like dragging every blanket, doll, and thirty books out of their room to play “school” on the stairs.  I mean, Esther chooses to play with Noah instead of moping in her bed while I get ready in the mornings.  I mean giggling and playing with each other using some sort of gibberish that Michael Luke and I don’t understand. I love hearing them giggle when they have these moments. During these times I feel as though God is saying, “The road was difficult but the reward is sweet.”  And I smile and agree.

P.S.  Through sharing these adoption posts I have met and had the privilege of talking with many other families that are considering adoption and adoption from Hong Kong. I love talking with each one of you.  If you are considering adoption please e-mail me Krystle@colortransformedfamily.com.  I would love to answer any questions that you may have and talk more in depth with you about the process.  Please be patient with my response time though.  I’m afraid I don’t respond as quickly as I would like to.

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Who is Kai-Ma?

For many weeks I have been wanting to write this post but for the most part I feel inadequate  and unprepared to tell you this story.  A story of an orphan child and her Kai-Ma (Cantonese for Godmother).

As I mentioned in the previous post, Esther misses many things about Hong Kong but what she misses the most is her Kai-Ma and after you learn about this remarkable lady you too will understand why she grieves for her often.  In the months leading up to our trip to Hong Kong we only knew of Kai-Ma as a volunteer at Mother’s Choice.  We knew that Esther was very fond of her because Kai-Ma took her to all her doctor’s appointments… but there is so much more to the story.

Kai-Ma is a volunteer at Mother’s Choice but she was involved in Esther’s before Esther was placed there.  Kai-Ma has know Esther longer than anyone else and was probably closer to her than anyone else.  I’m not going to go into details of Esther’s birth story because that is her story to share if and when she chooses. We aren’t completely sure if it was medically necessary or if she was just waiting to be assigned to an institution but Esther was hospitatlized until she was eight months old.  When Esther was two months old Kai-Ma started visiting her in the hospital.  Her first connection to the outside world.  A person who was willing to invest time and love into this little life.  Kai-Ma began to visit Esther five days a week for four hours.  I have to admit that when I first read this I was blown away and immediately began crying.  During the time that she visited her Kai-Ma taught Esther how to roll over, sit up, and everything else that developing babies learn.  Most importantly though Kai-Ma taught Esther how to love and how to accept love.  Until you understand the importance of physical touch and comfort, the importance of meeting a child’s need that so often is missed out on with orphaned children it’s hard to really appreciate what this women did for Esther.  She deserves a huge piece of credit for who Esther is today… especially Esther’s capability to learn to love Michael Luke and me as parents.

Eventually, Esther was placed under the care of Mother’s Choice where Kai-Ma was a volunteer.  Kai-Ma continued to spend time with our little girl and accompanied her to all her doctor appointments, visited her every time she was in the hospital, and eventually accompanied her to preschool two days a week.  On a few occasions Esther got to go to Kai-Ma’s house and eat “jelly” (Jell-O in America)!  Over the years these two formed a pretty tight bond and made lots of memories together.  Kai-Ma truly did live up to her name.

Last Summer when Mother’s Choice and Hong Kong granted us matching approval Kai-Ma and Mother’s Choice knew that they would have to begin preparing Esther for her new family.  Preparing her to leave Kai-Ma.  During this time we received word of Esther’s hesitation but couldn’t truly understand the full scope of it because a) we didn’t know about Kai-Ma and b) we didn’t know that Esther is very good at understanding and reasoning things out.  She is a very smart girl… and I’m not just saying this because she is my girl because I can assure you Noah will not be thinking at her level in eight months.  Noah probably won’t even come close… but she has her own areas she is gifted in.  Anyway, back to the story at hand.  Kai-Ma had one of her own daughters that lives in the U.S. take pictures of her trip home at Christmas.  Esther was then shown pictures of an airplane, luggage, the airport all in preparation for her trip to her new home.  I can’t imagine what this might have been like for Kai-Ma.  We are talking about someone who was basically like a grandmother to Esther, preparing to say good bye to her… possibly forever.

Forever?  Why?  Because Kai-Ma said goodbye to Esther not really knowing if she would ever have contact with her again.  How did this happen?  Michael Luke and I have actually spent very little tim

e with Kai-Ma.  I really can’t tell you much about her.  I mainly only saw her in passing at Mother’s Choice and at one small introduction.  At the time they did introduce her as the volunteer who took her to her doctor’s appointments and someone that was special to Esther but I certainly didn’t understand how special.  I hugged her, told her thank you, and like most days while I was at Mother’s Choice I shed a few tears.  Kai-Ma didn’t speak at Esther’s going away party (I still haven’t shared that tear jerker story with you)  because she herself was too emotional but we did manage to get a family picture with her as we were heading out the door of Mother’s Choice forever.  It was taken with a Polaroid camera and by the time we reached the taxi was already placed in the back of Esther’s Life Book.

So how do I know so much about Esther and Kai-Ma?  I know their story because Kai-Ma (whose real name I am choosing not to share) wrote us a five page letter.  It’s a beautiful letter that I have read many times over.  The first time I read it was the afternoon of Gotcha Day, during one of the quiet periods when Michael Luke was holding Esther… comforting her the best that we could.

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The letter was given to us in a “Confidential” envelope by Esther’s social worker after we left Mother’s choice.  Out of curiosity I opened the envelope and began to read. I barely made it two paragraphs in that afternoon before uncontrollably sobbing at the love this woman had for our daughter.  After finally making it through the letter I gave it to Michael Luke to read.. he sobbed too as he read it.

She signed the end of the letter with her English name and included her e-mail, Skype address and Facebook info.  Like Esther I am eagerly waiting for the adoption to be finalized so that we can have contact with Kai-Ma. So that I can tell her how much I truly appreciate what she did for our daughter, and so that she can see her precious Esther.  I can’t imagine what it’s like for her not knowing if she will get the chance to see Esther develop into a beautiful girl.  Not knowing if we will hold true to the word we gave the social worker that we would indeed like to keep in touch.  I can’t imagine keeping Kai-Ma from Esther or Esther from Kai-Ma.

P.S. Included with the letter was a flash drive that contains hundreds of photos and video of Esther.  All categorized by date… some as far back as when Esther was only two months old.  These are the earliest pictures we have of Esther and I am truly grateful for these.

In addition to Esther’s piece of luggage that Mother’s Choice gave her Kai-Ma also gave her one. A Trunki packed with toys, stickers, and dolls.  Most of the time we were in Hong Kong Esther didn’t want to open her Trunki.  Near the end of the trip she was finally willing to open it and look at all her gifts from Kai-Ma. Now nearly three months later these are beloved treasures given to her by her dear Kai-Ma.

P.P.S. Esther’s pink Trunki was so cute that ML went on a late night shopping spree our last night in Hong Kong to find one for Noah. Before he left Noah requested blue… several blocks, shops, and trys later he found Noah her blue Trunki for the trip home.  Both of the girls had a blast rolling around on them in the airport and love taking them on other trips now.

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A Little R & R

Aside from the obvious r&r I’ve been taking here on the blog we had a little family r&r the other week at the beach.  Yep, we packed up the family and drove four hours south to the sunshine, sand, and fun.  Well the girls and I did at least because we were tagging along with Michael Luke for a physical therapy convention…  so he spent most of the time in meetings.

Our trip couldn’t have come at a more perfect time though.  Our time at the beach marked two months with Esther.  Two months can seem like a long time. Newborns change drastically in two months.  Some are even sleeping through the night at that point (thank you Noah).  Esther is no different really.  She has changed so much in the past two months.  She smiles and laughs a lot more now.  Her anxiety levels have gone down… not gone but they have decreased.  She is also coming closer and closer to sleeping through the night but like newborns who have only been in their home two months she still gets totally freaked out when she wakes up in her room in the middle of the night. We are moving forward though.

One of the steps of moving forward that we were warned about and that we knew would come was grieving.  Esther did some grieving in Hong Kong… especially the days immediately after she became ours but nothing like what we experienced the week leading up to our beach trip.  You see, Esther left some pretty important people back in Hong Kong. She was loved and she loves them.  One of the is her Kai-ma (God mother in Cantonese).  I hope to share more about this amazing women later this week but in the meantime it’s enough to know this woman was like family to Esther.  Family that she can’t see, or hug, or play with anymore.  Family that in her mind was practically dead.  Family that she missed.

It just happened one day out of the blue… she started complaining of her stomach hurting. I figured it was a stomach bug because it had been making its way around town so I didn’t think too much of it besides preparing for the worst and applying peppermint oil to her tummy.  Later in the day her energy level dropped and her Chatty Kathy self practically silenced.  That got my attention and let me know she was for real about not feeling well.  Then later that night she started running a fever.  Mostly around 101 but climbing past 103,  and hanging out at 104 before coming back down.  At this point we knew she didn’t feel well but didn’t know what to do besides wait for the virus to hit. So we gave her some medicine and applied more peppermint oil to her to help bring the fever down.

The next morning her fever was gone but she was barely moving, still not talking much, and not eating hardly anything.  Most of the day she laid on the couch and was content with me just holding her.  She was not content with me stepping out of the room to do anything else.  So housework and cooking sort of came to a standstill because we all know that the “Mommy” part of the job comes first and thankfully my husband insists on it being that way.  We repeated the same thing for another day.  Barely moving, fever rising at nighttime and then back down by morning, and in my mind waiting on the stomach bug to rear its ugly head.

Like any three year old sometimes she has a hard time finding the right words to express herself. By the third day Esther began to say, “Mommy, I’m scary.”  With a little probing we discovered that she “was scary” because she missed her Kai-Ma. She missed Hong Kong.  And occasionally she would tell us she wanted to go back.  Not in the I don’t love you or want to be with you sense of “go back” But in the I miss everyone who used to be in my life and want to see them again sense.

At this point my heart broke becauseI realized that it had been almost two months for her without seeing or hearing from Kai-Ma.  In her mind, why did we have her and why couldn’t she see the ones she loved.  So we begin to talk to her about how sometimes when your heart hurts your tummy hurts too.  We told her that even though Kai-Ma misses her and loves her Kai-Ma wants her to be here in our family and Kai-Ma wants Esther to be happy.  We begin to try to explain to her that in August she can talk to Kai-Ma again.  (We are allowed to talk to her once the adoption is finalized… but how do you explain that to a three year old!?)  We also read and talked to her about adoption. About her birth family. Mother’s Choice.  And how God had a plan all along for her to be part of our family.  I can’t say how much she understood but she definitely enjoyed talking about Kai-Ma.  By Sunday we declared it an “oily” day and diffused Valor, Stress Away, and Joy and applied Tranquil to her throughout the day.  We did this for a couple of days and kept talking to her about Kai-Ma  Slowly she began to perk up a little each day, reaching her normal self seven days later… the day before we left for the beach.

So you can see why the beach was a welcome retreat at this point.

Here Esther’s anxiety almost completely went out the window.

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The girls hardly fought because there was plenty of sand and waves to go around.

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And for once I got to sit and read for a little while.

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It was what we all needed. R&R.

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P.S. Esther still has times that she is sad or “scary”. Which in the mind of a little three year old that has been completely transplanted half way across the world what part of that is not scary? We tell her that’s it’s perfectly fine to miss the ones you love and talk about getting to talk to Kai-Ma again.  I hope Kai-Ma is prepared to talk for about ten hours in August because Esther has a bunch of stuff she wants to show her and tell her about.  We are also talking pictures to show Kai-Ma.  This has been great therapy for Esther.  Even though we can’t talk to her yet it’s something she can do in anticipation of her.

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