Saturday, November 25, 2006

Six Months Ago...

Six months ago today, I woke up very early (about 2:30 a.m.) in a hotel in Wuhan, China. Seven very long hours later, my guide met me to take me to the Civil Affairs office where I met Hannah for the first time. I was nervous and very excited. She was terrified and NOT excited.

Fast foward six months. I have so much to be thankful for. I have a very healthy and happy 3 year old daughter who amazes me with her strength and resilience. That's not to say every day is easy or every adjustment we've had to make together has been easy. But overall, I think things have gone very well! I have family and friends who surround us with their love and support, and whose very prayers and support helped make getting Hannah here possible in the first place. Hannah definately knows her her "mama" is and is so affectionate and sweet. She climbs in my lap in the afternoons to watch t.v. or read. She jumps in my bed in the mornings to cuddle and play before getting up. And yet, she is secure enough now that I can leave her with others and she mostly handles it well. She'll usually look at me and say "right back!" (as in, I know, I know - you'll be right back!) Hannah LOVES school. She loves her teachers, she loves her classmates, and she loves the playground! She plays well with her friends for the most part, though she can be a bit bossy. She also LOVES church and we have a wonderful church family. Hannah has great doctors who have provided her with excellent care. Her surgeon did a wonderful repair job on her cleft palate. And while those two weeks following surgery were a bit sleep-deprived and rough, it all seems like a distant memory now. I still smile in wonder every time Hannah laughts or cries with a wide-open mouth and I see a complete, intact roof in her mouth. I'm thankful that Hannah is now sucking through a straw, blowing 'raspberries', and making some new speech sounds. We still have a very long way to go on her speech, but everything is set in place and moving now. I see a few tears and pouts, but I see many, many more smiles and laughs. I have a child who can manipulate her way into staying awake a few more minutes by calling out, "mama! hug!" (and yes, I do give in to this one. Those who know me well know that I don't give into many kid schemes...but I can't say no to this one and she's figured that out!) God has truly blessed me this past year. As Hannah and I put up the Christmas tree (well, as *I* put up the Christmas tree and Hannah danced around in her Halloween princess costume with the gold ribbon she found in the ornamament box...), I couldn't help but think that a year ago I was still working on my homestudy and thinking 'next Christmas, she'll be here!" Wow!! I am so grateful and humbled by all that God has done in this year. I know Hannah was meant to be my daughter and all I can do is say "Thank You" and then do all I can to help her discover and live out God's plans for her.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Silly Hannah!

Hannah has the type laughter that is whole-body laughter. The kind that just doubles a person over. I've said since I first met her in China that her personality is "intense". When she is sad, it is intensely sad. Mad is intensely mad. And, happiness is intensely happy. She does nothing half-heartedly. Her sad and mad have gotten a little less-intense over the last 5 months, but I'm so thankful her happiness is just as intense. Here's some pictures from us playing this afternoon. The one of her bent over is one where she just laughed so hard she fell over.

In other news, Hannah had a speech evaluation at the Univ. of Montevallo on Friday. She did wonderful and cooperated with the students who were doing the evaluation very well. They, in turn, did an amazing job with her. I was very impressed. She will hopefully begin receiving services there in January - probably twice a week. We still have to work out the scheduling and all, but they seemed very willing to work with me to get her a time-slot that was after school. Her scores on the tests were a bit of suprise to me. Her articulation (speech sounds) was very low - which is to be expected from a child who has just had a cleft palate repaired at 3 years old. Her expressive language was somewhat low - also to be expected for a child who was adopted from another county 5 months ago. But, what stuck out to me was her comprehension score. She scored completely average. According to that assessment, she performed as well as any typical 3 year old who had spent those entire 3 years hearing English. I expected her comprehension to be the highest score of the 3, but didn't quite expect it to be that high. The child has only heard English for 5 months!! I'm so proud of her!