Hannah Claire Shi Lin

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Now You're Home

It's hard to believe that this time last year we were wishing our little girl could be with us.  It was our last Christmas with just one child, and I looked forward to a time when Miles would have a sibling to share all the excitement with, as only children can share with each other.  Now that is a reality, and I am so thankful.  It touches my heart to watch as Hannah discovers this holiday, from picking out and decorating our tree, to hearing Miles sing in his school Christmas program, to sitting on Santa's lap.  Of course, she has no idea she'll be waking up in three days to find our Christmas tree surrounded by presents for her to open.  I can't wait for that morning! 

I've had so much fun Christmas shopping this year!  I mean, I've bought presents for my nieces before, but this is different.  This is for my own daughter, something that not too long ago I thought I would never have.  It was such a pleasure to pick out all the little girly things, things I know I would have loved myself as a little girl.  I can't wait to see the look on Hannah's face when she opens those presents!

I put together a slideshow to express how this past year has been for us, and how much it means to us to have our daughter with us for Christmas.  I hope you enjoy it, and I know many who read this can totally identify with our family.  Merry Christmas to all of you and, whether by birth or adoption, your precious children.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


As I am writing this, something is happening in our house that I've dreamed about for years.  And it's been going on for almost an hour straight.  My two children are happily playing together!  This is a real breakthrough for them.  I mean, they've played together before, of course, but this time they've got a little storyline going, and they seem to understand each other pretty well.  This is so welcome after three and a half months of a lot of fighting, and when they weren't  fighting, Hannah was my shadow, which has been hard on me.  Miles also was using what little Mandarin he knows to communicate with Hannah, in spite of my efforts to encourage him to speak English to her so she'd learn it quicker.  He would also sort of just make up his own language sometimes, that sounded like Mandarin, but was really just jibberish.  But the past week I've noticed he's started speaking to her in English, and as a result, she seems to be using more English herself.

Like I said, I've dreamed for years of having two children, and hearing the sounds of them happily playing.  God has made that dream come true today.  I know there will still be all the normal fighting, but I think today there has been a breakthrough, and it will only get better!

Here they are playing.  They did completely mess up my bed, but it is so worth it for the harmony between the two of them!

Just look at them.  I am the most blessed of mothers.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Our Laid Back Summer

Today Hannah saw two of her water bottles on the counter and said, "Mommy!  One, two!"  I was so proud, and ran to her and gave her a big kiss.  Later, I knocked my shin on the edge of the open dishwasher and cried out in pain.  I asked her to kiss my bo-bo, which she did.  I went back to the dishes, and Hannah ran to the bathroom and brought me back a band-aid.  She is such a caring, sensitive person. And so precious.

Hannah's seems to be learning more and more English words.  I believe now that in just a few months, she'll be speaking so much and so clearly, you won't be able to tell she wasn't here in the U.S. all her life.  She recently started to say "hurt" instead of the Chinese word for it, and she says "cow" every time we get in the car.  Speaking of cows, we went out this morning to the farm where we buy our organic eggs and raw milk, and she was making sure the whole way that we were indeed going to see the cows.  She kept saying, "Mommy, cow!"  And I kept reassuring her, "Yes, we are going to see the cows."  Going to the farm has really helped her feel more comfortable around animals, and to learn their names.  While she still doesn't want to pet any of them, she'll actually get down out of my arms and walk around sometimes, until one of the dogs or cats gets too close, and then she's climbing me.  I think a few more trips will take care of that fear.

Miles and Hannah are growing closer and getting along better.  Sometimes I'm so amazed at how quiet it is around here with two kids in the house.  It's not all the time, of course, but those times I find them playing quietly together, or even just side-by-side on their toy laptops is so heartwarming.  I love seeing my children connecting and growing in their sibling bond.

My sister and her family just recently met Hannah a couple of weeks ago.  My sister had her baby while we were flying back from China, and we wanted to play it safe around her and wait until Hannah's blood test results came back.  She has no illnesses, but she did have to get to immunizations, and is still being treated for giardia.  She couldn't keep the antibiotics for it down, so we switched to a natural herbal treatment.  We have two more weeks to go with that, then we'll do more stool samples to see if it did the trick.  Please keep her in your prayers.  As long as she has giardia, it will be hard for her to gain any weight.

We've been enjoying our laid-back summer.  While there's nothing wrong with having lots of activities over the summer, we're loving just mostly staying home, getting to know each other better, settling into a routine.  I'm feeling so much better lately, and am able to focus more on the things that are important, the little things.   Like wrapping up Hannah in a blanket and holding her like a baby and talking to baby talk to her, sometimes even feeding her a water bottle full of milk.  She asks me to do this every day now and LOVES it.  I'm looking at picture books more with her, pointing to pictures and telling her what the objects and animals are called.  And as I've said before, she loves to be in the kitchen with me, and I let her help as much as I can.  All these are little things I just wouldn't have time for if we were scheduled to do activities most days.  I feel so blessed to have this precious time with both of my children, and especially with Hannah, since she has missed out on so much already.

Brother and sister bonding.

At my sister's house with the new baby.
Miles and Hannah with their cousins.
Father's Day
The 4th of July at Mei-Feng Ayi's house.
Meeting one of her cousins.
Another one from the 4th.  Hannah has no shortage of Ayis!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

All My Heart

I can honestly say now that I love Hannah so dearly.  Of course, I loved her before, before I even met her.  But after we got her, I was under so much stress and anxiety, and was dealing with depression as well, that it was so hard to feel the love I had for her.  I'm so thankful to feel that love now.

Today was such a nice day.  We stayed home all day, just Hannah, Miles and me.  I got up in a good mood, and decided to make a conscious effort to concentrate on the kids and the house today.  Yes, even though I'm a "stay at home mom," I don't always focus on domestic things, and I don't always spend as much time as I think I should with my kids.  But today was different.  I enjoyed making them a breakfast of scrambled eggs and biscuits.  I did lots of laundry today, and Hannah helped me, which she loves to do.  Later Hannah and I sat on the couch and looked through a couple of her picture books, one about animals and one about the world in general.  It was nice to just take that time out with her and not feel like I needed to get up and go get something done around the house.  After the books, I laid down with Hannah until she fell asleep for her nap.  When she got up, we all three had cookies and milk for an afternoon snack.  Before supper, Hannah asked to clean off the table and chairs, so I handed her my bottle of vinegar and water and a washcloth, and she happily went about her task.  After that, she sat on the counter while I did dishes, then stood on a stool and stirred the food on the stove.

When Chip got home, we ate, then Chip took Miles to the store to spend some of his allowance on silly bands, so Hannah and I got some more one-on-one time together for about 45 minutes.  She was crying when her baba and gege left, but she cheered herself up by brushing her teeth with her new electric Hello Kitty toothbrush.  She probably used it ten times today, she loves that thing so much!

Hannah is learing so many new words lately.  She now says "ok," " I love you, too," and "hurt," in addition to a few others.  She understands so much, it's amazing!  It's fascinating to watch this little girl who had never heard English words before she was 4 years old, now learning this new language, slowly dropping the Chinese words for the new English ones.

Looking at Hannah's face today, I felt so strongly, so clearly that God meant this little girl for us.  To say she is special to me is such an understatement.  She came to me in such a special way, and she has touched me in ways that have no words to be expressed.  She is truly my daughter, and I love her with all my heart.

Friday, July 2, 2010

All About Hannah

I wanted to take a moment to tell everyone about Hannah.  Of couse I've talked about her in previous posts, about how she's doing, etc, but haven't really gone into detail about her personality.  So here goes...

Hannah is one of those kids who rarely sits still.  She can also be loud, really loud at times.  When she gets excited, she loves to scream, those high-pitched kind of screams that feel like their going to pierce my eardrums.  She loves to come and tell me about things she and her ge ge (big brother) are doing, and she has the most adorable way of using hand gestures and mumbling with a few words thrown in to tell me all about it.  As the original description we read of her stated, she does love to be held.  So I hold her as much as I can.  Sometimes on the couch while she watches TV (which usually doesn't last too long, because, as I said before, she rarely sits still), sometimes at the table while she eats, and other times I carry her around as I do things in the kitchen. 

Speaking of the kitchen, she loves to spray my cleaning solution of water and vinegar on the table, and then wipe it down for me.  She also has a little hand broom that she likes to sweep up crumbs from the floor with.  And she loves to stir ingredients when I bake.  Hannah is definitely Mommy's little kitchen companion.  Any time I'm in there, she wants to be there too.  She even sits on the counter next to the sink while I do dishes.

Hannah likes to help me fold laundry, and then she puts up her own clothes!  She also likes to load the washer and dryer.  It's these little things, her helping me in the kitchen and with laundry, that make me look forward to the future when she is older and even more able to help me with things around the house.  It's not only the help, though.  It's the idea that I'll be able to share these with my own daughter, and pass on things I love like cooking and baking.  And most importantly, we'll be building a bond while we do these things together.  I am so blessed to have this little girl in my life.

Whenever Hannah gets hurt, and even if she's not really hurt, she says, "Ow!" and runs straight to me for a kiss on the boo-boo.  I give her the kiss, and she's fine.  It makes me feel so good that she finds comfort in that.  That she knows that I am her mother and can make everything ok.  I'm so thankful she doesn't seem to have any of the bonding issues I've heard of other older children having.  She is now so confident in situations, such as the playground.  She has no problem running off and playing, but every few minutes she comes back to check in with her Mommy.  And she has started to call me "Mommy," instead of the Chinese "Ma-ma," she started out with.  I just love that!

Hannah and Miles are getting along better lately.  It is such a joy to see them play harmoniously together!  One of the sweetest things to see them do is when Hannah asks Miles to hold her.  So he picks her up and carries her for a few steps, then they both fall on the couch laughing.  They repeat this over and over and it's so fun to watch because they're having so much fun!  Of course, there is still fighting at times (Hannah hits Miles now and then), and neither one likes to share their toys with the other.  But these things are just normal sibling issues, so I'm not too worried about them.  I have a good feeling the two of them will grow up to be very close.

While Hannah can be very loud and even whiny at times (what 4-year-old isn't?), she is very sweet.  She tries to sing along when I sing lullabyes at night, and she even makes up her own songs featuring all of our names.  She is such a precious girl.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Days with Hannah

We're all doing even better than last time I posted.  I've been seeing a therapist to deal with my anxiety and according to her, I may have been lightly depressed for many years.  I knew my anxiety was bad, but I was always able to get to a point where I could control it, and didn't really think I suffered from depression.  But I think my therapist may be onto something.  She suggested I go see my doctor and get a prescription for a mild anti-depressant.  I've never taken anything like this in my life, so I was a little skeptical, but was willing to try anything right now to get a handle on my irritability, especially around the kids.  So I did as she suggested, and it has made a huge difference!  Of course, the stress is still there, but I'm able to handle it better than before, losing my cool less and less, which I am so thankful for.

So now that I'm able to put aside some of the anxiety and depression, I'm much more able to enjoy my new life with Hannah. She is so adorable, her sweet little face, the way she moves around when she's in a silly mood, like a little monkey, her baby-Mandarin, and her baby-English. She's such a wonderful little girl, and I'm so thankful I can see it now.

Hannah is learning new words, such as "potty." She used to say the Chinese word for potty, but now she uses the English word. She says "Amen," as soon as she sits down at the table to eat, because she knows we're about to ask the blessing. I'm trying to teach her the alphabet, without much luck yet, but she loves to look at the flashcards I made her. Her progress is slow, but I'm giving her all the time she needs to catch up with other 4-year-olds. Luckily, we homeschool, so I'm able to let her go at her own pace.

Hannah's stool sample results came back and she has giardia, which is an intestinal bacteria which many times goes away on its own, but we're getting a prescription to treat it. We still haven't gotten back her blood results.

Miles and Hannah are getting along better than when we first got home.  They're still learning to share and getting used to having a sibling, but there are times when they play so well together.  They'll even run into their room and close the door, and I can hear them giggle and scream with laughter.  It does my heart so much good to hear that.

My love for Hannah grows every day.  Yesterday, while I was on the couch trying to take a little nap, she came to me, kissed me on the cheek, and said "I love you."  Who couldn't love that.

Here are a few photos from since we've gotten home with Hannah:

The kids love to play between the couch and the wall, you'd think it was a playground!

Hannah is Mommy's little helper.  That girl LOVES to clean!

Hannah with a friend of ours from Taiwan, Hannah's "Mei Feng Ayi".

The above photo is one of my absolute favorites!!!  She reminds me so much of Rainbow Brite's friend, Patty O' Green, with her pigtails, mini-skirt and boots!  For a while she even had band-aids on her knees, just not on that particular day.

I almost don't need words for the next two photos.  I am completely convinced that I have the most beautiful daughter this world has ever seen.  Of course, I know I'm biased, but come on, look at that face!  Gorgeous.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

So Much Better

We are really settling in now and finding our new normal.  Of course, I'm still learning how to deal with the added stress of having two kids versus one, but it is definitely so much better.  Hannah is starting to say more English words, mostly when repeating what we say, but she did ask for bubbles in her bath the other day by saying, "bubble"!  She understands a lot of what we say, and follows directions well, although she does have meltdowns quite a bit when she wants one of Miles's toys or can't quite get us to understand what she's telling us in Chinese.  I know it will all get better as time goes by and Hannah learns to speak more English.

I took Hannah to her first doctor's appointment week before last and the hearing in her right ear was tested and was found to be normal, to our delight!  We'll be making another appointment with a craniofacial doctor to evaluate her microtia and give us an idea of treatments available for her.  We're not in a big hurry, though, because at this point we think it will mostly be cosmetic treatments to give her left ear and face a more normal appearance.  There could be a possibility of improving her hearing in her left ear too, but she seems to function so normally with good hearing in one ear, that we're not too worried about it.

Last week I completed the last of gathering stool samples from Hannah.  Boy was that fun! :(  The doctor said this would be to check for parasites.  I'll be dropping them off tomorrow at the lab and while we're there we'll have her blood drawn and they'll check to make sure her vaccinations are good and check for other various things.  As of her appointment, she weighs 27 pounds and is 38 1/2 inches tall.  She is very skinny for her height, but she eats a whole lot, so hopefully she'll catch up soon.

These days we spend a lot of mornings at the playground before it gets too hot, then late afternoon, the kids play on their Slip 'n Slide.  Last weekend we also got them a little pool, which they love.  They like to eat popsicles outside and to blow bubbles.  I've got plans for other things for us to do this summer, like library story times and trips to the beach area at the lake, things where we can all stay cool.

More photos to come soon!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Two Weeks Home!

Today we've been home with Hannah two weeks! And what a two weeks it's been! The first week was really hard; one of the hardest of my life in fact, but last week it got easier. Now I feel so much better, it's amazing. Everyone said give it some time, and they were right. I’m starting to get used to Hannah being here, and more importantly, I’m so glad she’s here! As I told our social worker, I can feel the love creeping in.

Chip’s mother is here this weekend, so I only have time for a quick post and a few pictures from our first two weeks home. I just got all the pictures on my computer last night, so on a later post, I’ll share more pictures from our time in China.

Showing Hannah her room when we first got home:

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Wonderful Day

I just wrote the last post this morning, and felt moved to write again tonight.  I had a wonderful day, the best so far since we came home!  Chip was home since it was Saturday, so that helped, and I just felt more relaxed today with Hannah.  We spent the morning around the house, just spending time with the kids, then headed two blocks from our house to Dairy Queen for lunch.  When we got home, we got Hannah down for a nap and then a friend of mine picked me up to go see a movie.  It was so nice to get out of the house with no kids and escape responsibility for 2 hours!  We saw Letters to Juliet, which was a good movie.  I love to watch movies set in Italy, so I really enjoyed it.

I came home to two happy kids and a tired husband.  I am so thankful to have Chip.  My anxiety has been hard on him, and he's willing to do anything for me to help me get through this.  We had supper and then got the kids ready for bed.  Our bedtime routine was when some things different and very hopeful happened.  For the first time, Hannah actually paid attention to the stories, and also sat beside her brother in my lap without  complaining that she was having to share me with him!  It was so nice!  Just the way I'd always imagined it.  Then, even better, she was mostly quiet during the prayer, then listened and fell asleep as I sang lullabies.  Wow.  It touched my heart so much, and eased some of my anxiety over whether or not this would all work.  We are only at one week home, and Hannah has already settled in enough to enjoy her new bedtime routine.  I am so blessed.

I know not every night will go this smoothly, but I do know that many will.  I've been praying to feel God's presence lately during my struggles, and today I did.  I know He's there, and He's telling me it will all be alright.

Home One Week

Today it has been one week since we got home with Shi Lin.  We are now making an effort to get her used to her new name by calling her "Hannah Lin-lin," and it seems to be working.  Sorry I haven't written since day 13 in China.  The trip was really rough for me, physically and emotionally, and I didn't have much time to get online. 

In my last post I said I was over the Post Adoption Depression/Anxiety, but shortly after, I found that was not the case.  It still comes and goes, but I do think it's getting better.  It is something that has completely caught me off guard, as it does with so many new adoptive mothers.  I was so excited to meet my daughter, and when it turned out to be nothing like what I expected, I panicked.  When I'm down, it is a really dark time for me.  When I'm up, I'm not as positive as I wish I was, but I can see little glimmers of hope.  Everyone assures me that with time, everything will change and I will settle into my new "normal" life.  Letting go of my old life has been extremely hard for me, and at times I focus on it so much that I feel like I'm ready to give up.  But then I can see enough of reality to know that things will get better, and in time I will feel the love for my daughter and not be able to imagine life without her.

I debated on whether to discuss this subject.  I don't want to discourage anyone from adopting, particularly older children.  But the fact that I've never read a blog entry about PAD made me determined to talk about it, to hopefully help prepare other mothers of the possibility of it happening to them, that it is normal, and that they are not alone if it does.  On most blogs, post-adoption life seems so rosy, so ideal, and maybe it is for many, maybe for those who are posting.  Maybe those with PAD just aren't the ones posting, and if they are, they feel ashamed and guilty about their feelings so they hide them. I hope that mothers of newly adopted children suffering from PAD will read my blog, maybe someone who would not have even known they could get help otherwise, will reach out to others for support and know that everything will be ok.  I have two friends who have been so supportive of me, I don't know what I would have done without them.  These are new friends of mine; I met each of them only months before we went to China.  They each have a child from China and completely identify with me.  They have reached out with so much love and understanding, to say I'm touched is such an understatement.  I owe these women so much.

One of my friends has a therapist for both herself and her daughter and she says she's helped them so much.  I've asked for her contact information and I'm going to call her Monday morning and see if I can get in to see her.  I want so much to feel positive about my new life and my new daughter.  Hannah really is a beautiful little girl, both in and out.  She is doing amazingly well, and doesn't seem to have some of the problems other parents describe about their newly-adopted children.  She goes to bed easily in her own bed, sleeps through the night, eats well, and seems to have a healthy attachment to me and Chip.  So it's not her fault that I'm going through PAD.  There is a side of me that is still excited to have her home, that looks forward to her learning more English so we can communicate better.  A part of me that can't wait for things like ballet classes and Girl Scouts, and trips to the salon together.

As I was typing this post, Hannah woke up and I heard her voice calling me.  I felt much better than I normally do when I hear that, and I cheerfully went to her room and greeted her with "good morning."  Right now I feel so positive.  I know there will be tough, trying times.  But I know I can get through it with support from my friends and family, and ultimately, God.  Please keep us all in your prayers at this time of transition in our family.

P.S.  I'll post more pictures when I get the chance.  They're all still on the cameras and Chip's notebook computer! :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day 13

Just a quick update: I'm happy to say I'm over the Post Adoption Depression or Post Adoption Anxiety, or whatever it was.  I'm seeing things much more clearly now and can't wait to get Shi Lin back home and settled in!
We're enjoying our stay here in Guangzhou, but I'm so ready to be back in my house with more space.  Being cramped in this hotel room with two kids is starting to drive me crazy!
My sister is scheduled to be induced on Friday while we're flying back home, so please keep her and her new baby in your prayers.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Day 11

Sorry it's been so long since I posted.  We are really so busy and so exhausted every day.  And for a few days, I was not only physically exhausted, but also emotionally.  So it's been really hard for me to get on the computer and focus enough to write anything.  While Lin-lin seems to be adjusting to us just fine, I was having a difficult time at first.  I had a touch of PAD, or Post Adoption Depression.  If you're familiar with Post Partum Depression, then you have an idea what it is.  It happens to a lot of new adoptive mothers, but isn't talked about very much, because the mothers usually feel ashamed of their feelings.  I talked to our social worker and she assured me everything I was going through was perfectly normal.  Imagine you have spent years imagining your ideal adoptive child, then you see pictures of her and begin to add to the fantasy of what she is like.  You're so excited to finally meet her, and when you do, she is very different, and you realize although you feel love for her, she is still a stranger to you at this point.  She smells unfamiliar, she speaks a different language, and her personality is completely different than what you expected.  This is what I was going through those first few days, terrified that Shi Lin would never feel like my own child.  But after a few tearful phone calls to Beverley, our social worker, and following her advice, and mostly giving it all some time, I feel much more confident, and am so looking forward to getting my little girl home, watching her as she learns English, and settles into her new life with us.

I am really starting to enjoy being here in China, especially now since we are in Guangzhou.  There are so many trees and the area is nice.  We've had some great tours , done a little shopping, and perhaps best of all, we're doing so much walking that Chip and I have lost some weight! 

Yesterday we visited a Buddhist temple, visited a store where we got Shi Lin a traditional jade necklace, then we went to a grocery store.  The grocery store was really fun!  I loved picking out snacks to try.  In China, they love Pringles, and they have so many different flavors we don't have in the U.S.  We got crab flavor, which we haven't tried yet.

Miles and Shi Lin are loving each other's company, and it's so good to see them play together.  She's  definitely a mama's girl right now, always asking for me to hold her, and calling for me when I leave the room or get out of her sight at all.  She has so much energy and can be very loud at times, which is testing my nerves, but she seems to be getting better lately, understanding better when we tell her to be quiet.   In spite of her energy, she goes to bed so easily, thank goodness!  They put a crib in our room, and as soon as we came in, she wanted in it.  So every night, when I say "Gai shui jale," ("Time for bed"), she climbs into the crib, we turn out the lights, and she lets out a few happy squeals, then sings a couple of songs (probably ones her foster mother sang to her), then goes right to sleep.  I'm so thankful bedtime is not a struggle.

I'm missing everyone at home, and missing home, period.  China's nice, but I'm getting more and more homesick every day.  There is no place like home, and even more true for me right now, there's no place like home in the U.S.A.