ONE YEAR HOME!

It’s hard to believe it has been a full year since Mia Luoshu Harvey took her first steps on U.S. soil! It’s also hard to believe that I haven’t updated this blog in many months now, but it is aptly title, “Journey of Presence,” since we have been very busy being “present” with our family over the last few months.

When I started this blog, it was simply a way to journal our adoption process. I hope that when Mia grows older, she will want to learn more about how Mommy and Daddy journeyed to get her, but even if she doesn’t, it is our story, and I’m glad that I have written it. In the meantime, I have had several adoptive mommas read our blog and find encouragement through it. THAT is purely a God-thing. I had written it for HER, but He decided to use it for so much more than that. As I was talking to another friend, who is considering international adoption after a failed domestic adoption, she was unsure if she should share their story after so much hurt the first time. I tried to encourage her to share, when she is ready. You never know who needs to hear it. You never know the impact you have unless you have something you are willing to GIVE.

The last four months have been full of more “firsts” for Miss Mia. She had her first American Chinese New Year and we educated the boys’ classes at school and went out for authentic Chinese food. We had a few birthday weekends with my sister turning 40 in Charlotte, and then Camden turning 6 and having the family here. She had her first Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and we celebrated our first Gotcha Day anniversary together on April 18th. Plus, Show Hope came and did an update video on our family, which you can see HERE.

If it seems as though there isn’t much to report, that is because this is our family now, and has been for a year! The funny thing is that you would think there are differences, but there isn’t. She is treated the same as her brothers, she is loved the same, and she is OUR daughter, through and through. We have spent the month of April reliving our journey…and John made a beautiful video of our Gotcha Day. You can see it HERE.

Recently, we went on a second honeymoon, courtesy of my company and goals that I had achieved over the last year (a year during which we completed our adoption and transitioned our entire family life). Just like in 2016, John’s mom came to stay with the kids (all three of them this time), and we returned a few days before our 1-year home anniversary. The kids understood that Mommy and Daddy were taking a trip, and that they were not coming. Mia was certain that the trip meant we were bringing home a sister for her. Talk about disappointment! No, baby, just because Mommy and Daddy go on an airplane, it does not mean we are bringing another child home. Taking flights reminded us of the last time we traveled together to bring Mia home. So much has changed. And yet, part of our hearts will forever be in China.

What is next? Well, I would entertain the thought of adopting again, okay, let’s be serious, I have thought and prayed about it many times. Finances, once again, hold us back, like they do so many willing families. My desire with my own business is to fund adoption grants, so even if God does not call us again, I KNOW He is calling me to keep DOING SOMETHING. We have our 1-year home study visit on May 12th, and we still have yet to do re-adoption in the state of Kentucky. Even though we have her social security card changed and I have contacted our insurance, her medical card is still listing her Chinese name. So, little loose ends that have fallen by the wayside because…well, life. We are looking forward to several trips this year, including Pittsburgh, northeast Pennsylvania, Myrtle Beach, Chicago, and Indianapolis.

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Mia is very vibrant, full of life, and active little princess. She is appropriately deemed a “three-nager” at this stage, attitude and all. While there are times when she says “you are not my family,” and it breaks our hearts, we know that she knows we are Mommy, Daddy, and brothers. She loves us and we love her. We are not naive enough to think that there will never be any conflict or trials in the future, but we know Who holds that future, and we are raising her in a way that we hope reflects Christ in all things. She absolutely LOVES church, her friends, singing and dancing. Her laugh lights up the room, and you can’t help but fall in love with her.

God is SO GOOD.

If you have ever considered adoption, keep praying. Keep trusting. Even if it feels impossible, with God, ANYTHING is possible! HE will open the doors. HE has the perfect child for your family and YOU are the perfect family for a child. If you are in the waiting, TAKE HEART. Once your child has a face and name, it is SO difficult to wait, but HIS timing is PERFECT. Maybe not always fast, but perfect. If you have just brought your child home and it is scary and hard, KEEP GOING. KEEP LOVING. That child NEEDS you…yes, even imperfect as you are. No parent gets it right all the time. Just keep LOVING. If you have gone through a failed adoption, KEEP HOPING. Sometimes doors shut because there is a better one for you and your family. Without some disappointment, we would not appreciate some of the BEST things in our lives. There is ALWAYS HOPE. Don’t give up. If you are needing financial assistance, check out www.ShowHope.org for adoption grants. Seek out other grant organizations. Apply to them all. In FAITH, do the work to get there. God will provide, but there is work YOU need to do, too. Don’t sit back and wait. FIGHT for that child. If your child is grown and on his/her own, SHARE YOUR STORY. Help other parents in the throws of adoption. Share HOPE. Share LOVE.

1 year ago, our daughter left her home country. She was scared. Confused. Dare I say, traumatized. 1 year later, she is THRIVING, LOVED BEYOND COMPARE, and filled with LIFE.

It’s worth it. Every step. Every signed paper. Every penny saved and given. WORTH IT.
This is LOVE.

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Ringing in a New Year!

Happy New Year! Today, we ring in 2017, it’s John’s brother’s birthday, and we celebrate Mia being home for 8 months! Wow!

Since the last update, we have experienced quite a lot, so I will try to summarize here.

At the beginning of November, we were able to have a short visit with Memaw, John’s mom for a weekend. John and I were both busy with other activities, and I know the kids LOVED having her here, even if it was brief.

This was the first year to begin holiday traditions, so Operation Christmas Child was the first one we do each season. The boys picked out gifts for boys their own ages, and Mia picked out for a girl her age. It was fun to go to the Dollar Tree and help them each pick out their treasures. I pray this act of giving continues and they all grow to understand how we give because of how much has been given to us.

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Mia’s first Thanksgiving was spent with my cousin, April, and her family in St. Louis, Missouri. We had a great time cooking, relaxing, and letting the kiddos play together for a few days. Because April and I have always been close, we hope our children will also enjoy a close relationship with one another. They are all exactly one year apart (8, 7, 5, 4, 3, and 2). We took them for a special adventure day at City Museum while we were there.

December 1st brought Mia’s six-month visit to Cincinnati Children’s. She had to get labs and an ultrasound and see her specialist there. It was a long day, but all good reports and we don’t have to travel up there again for another year. Praise the Lord! Right before leaving, Mia was able to meet Cinderella, who was there visiting children that day. She wasn’t sure at first, but she LOVED Cinderella’s “parkly” dress! Finally, she let us get a picture if I was holding her. We are so incredibly grateful to have such wonderful doctors within a driveable distance. While I am glad we don’t have to drive to Cincinnati regularly, it is a blessing to have some of the best specialists there to help monitor our little princess. The bottom line is that we had a great day, and Mia is doing very very well.

The second weekend of December, we went to Charlotte, North Carolina, as John’s brother, Nate, graduated as a detention officer–a job and schooling he had been working towards most of this year. All of us are very proud of his work and were honored to be there. The kids got to spend time with their cousins, which of course, they enjoyed most!

The month of December was filled with Christmas decorating, cookie baking, special outfits, our first family-of-five Christmas card, Christmas plays, lots of firsts, and pure JOY.

Mia continued to be the shining star of the social media world with her “training” videos with Momma, and we have just had a blast. I love that she gets so into workouts and jumping around, simply enjoying life, like any 3-year-old does! In December, there was a kind of “talent” skit show at church, and our family created a Christmas workout with audience participation. I think everyone enjoyed it!

Christmas Day in our house came on December 23rd. We did this so we could have a free day to truly enjoy the kids and not have to rush anywhere else. Mia loved opening her gifts, of course, and received several “Sofia the First” things, among other toys.

It’s amazing to see how much has changed in a year. One year ago, we were just wishing for the day we would hold her in our arms. Now, she is ours forever! The second picture was from the Christmas Eve service at Life Point Church in Portsmouth. What a wonderful night it was!

Christmas Day, we traveled up to Pennsylvania, to John’s parents’ house. We stayed there for several days. Sunday, we spent at my Aunt and Uncle’s house just across the border in Ohio, and again, the kids were able to visit with cousins and they all had a wonderful time.

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The next day, we had a relaxing Christmas with Memaw and Grandad. The kids opened gifts, we had traditional Christmas brunch, and then enjoyed a peaceful day together. That night, we went out to dinner together. These days are so precious! When you live far from family, every moment together is a blessing!

Before returning home, we celebrated my Aunt Cindy with a surprise party for her birthday. I can’t tell you how much my kiddos love Aunt Cindy! She is the one who has always been there for me, and I know she always will. It’s a special relationship I can’t fully explain. But, somehow, my kids get it, and ask to go to her house often. On our way home, we stopped and saw John’s Grandad Harvey. Going to his house is a fun blast from the past for John, as the kids play with the old toys like they are the newest things! It gives Grandad such joy to watch them play, and makes my heart so happy.

Over this month, I was able to be in touch with a couple of other adopted moms who are getting their kiddos from the same orphanage in Luoning, Henan, China. What a blessing to have that connection and share our story! In return, we have also received a few more pictures of Mia’s past. A few recent ones, and then these special glimpses into 11-month-old Mia!! Thank you, LORD!

Today, we celebrate 8 months HOME. Amazing, isn’t it? The updates may be more infrequent, but that is because we are busy just living life! I just beg of you, if you have EVER considered adoption, it is truly a blessing from God. I can’t explain it, but we BELONG together. Our daughter may not look like us, but she is definitely ours. Her feisty attitude and angel-sweet grin can make you exasperated and giggle all at the same time. Yes, we took a “risk” in adopting a child with “special needs,” but look at her! You would never know! Don’t fear the unknown. If you hear God calling you, step out in FAITH. There are so many children wearing labels when they just need to be clothed in LOVE. If we had the money to do it again, I would in a heartbeat. God knows what is best for us right now, and so we are enjoying each moment with our party of five.

Many blessings to our family and friends in 2017. Rejoice in the Lord always! Again, I say, “rejoice!”

6 Months Home!

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Mia’s First KCU Homecoming

Over the last month, many things have happened, but our girl is STILL a shining star, and doing really well. I would say that with each passing month, Mia has just melded into our family, like she has always been here.

In the last month, we have experienced changing pediatricians, updating records, and continuing to catch up Miss Mia on her vaccinations, a few at a time. We have seen the eye doctor and visited the dentist for the first time. Nothing new on the health front, though I still need to schedule a follow up for Cincinnati this month coming. When Mia came to us, she had many scars all over her arms and legs, and we noticed a TON of scratching. While this may be a coping mechanism of sorts, it is still unnerving. We started liberally applying Aquaphor all over after every bath, and it seems to be getting better and we have fewer open sores, making this Momma settle down a bit. She also has a bunch of ear wax, so we have been using drops each night on those as well, and this week, we will see if the doctor sees improvement in that area, too. We have a new-found habit of nail-biting, which drives me crazy, so I guess we should get back to keeping polish on! Mia went with me to get fitted for shoes, and she got her very own insoles to wear now. She is extremely flat-footed, and I am grateful for all of the help we received at Unger’s Shoe Store. Joe did a great job getting us just what we needed!

Mia and I had the pleasure of going on Camden’s first big field trip to the pumpkin patch with his Kindergarten class. What a fun day! I am so glad that we were able to take part in this, and I think Mia and Camden both had a wonderful time! I can’t help but wonder if she had ever been to a place like this? Has she ever picked her own pumpkin? Played on a tire playground? I just store up all these photos and memories and hope to treasure them always.

We had a few travel days over the last month, both up to Ohio to visit family. The first time was during the boys’ fall break from school. I took all three kids to see my Grandpa in the nursing home, and we stayed with my Aunt Cindy, Uncle Pete, and Grandma. Grandma Susa was the last of my mom’s immediate family to meet Miss Mia, and the two of them hit it off pretty quickly! It was great to see my Grandpa and have that special time with him, but the trip was very short, and we had to get back home.

A few weeks later, we got the call that Grandpa Susa went Home to the Lord, and we once again, headed back up north to be involved in the visitation and funeral. I’m so grateful for having my grandparents on my Mom’s side of the family, because I never knew my grandparents on my Dad’s side. The time with the family was well-spent and the kids did the best they could with all of the arrangements. Each of our children dealt with the funeral differently, but I wonder what was going through little Mia’s mind, as this was her first time. She excitedly pointed out each picture of Jesus at the funeral home and the church. She recognized other family members in picture boards, and is definitely understanding who her aunts, uncles, and cousins are. While it isn’t easy dealing with 7 little ones 8 and under, I am grateful that the kids got that time together.

During this month, we also had our first post-adoption home visit in Kentucky. I would guess that most families have the social worker come to their home for this visit, but we met ours in Lexington and just talked about Mia and how the last six months have been with her as part of our family. As usual, Mia was quiet and shy at first, and then warmed up to us talking at the table. The meeting was maybe an hour, and then we enjoyed a great lunch together, just the three of us at The Cheesecake Factory. I felt like we had come full circle from that first Gotcha Day restaurant outing at the Pizza Hut in China. What a difference six months makes!

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Mia also celebrated her first Halloween with us! Since our little Princess loves to dress up, she chose to be “Tangled” (or rather, Rapunzel, from the movie, “Tangled”). The boys decided on “Dark Batman” and “Kylo Ren” from Star Wars. It was fun to watch Mia with all the other kids, and she had her first Trunk or Treat at the boys’ martial arts party, where she won “prettiest costume.” She was thrilled! We missed out on other trick or treating events because we were gone to Ohio, but I think they all had a great time this year.

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While the paperwork chase has been over for some time now, we had received a Social Security card in Mia’s Chinese name shortly after arriving home, which we knew would need changed. We received the Certificate of Citizenship document in July, and I simply failed to do anything with it. Well, after all this time, I finally got all the forms into our local Social Security office and Mia finally has her English name! It’s official!!

As we are now in the beginning of November, I would be remiss to not mention that it is National Adoption Month! This is a time for us not to just celebrate our adoption of Mia, but to raise awareness for all of those children who NEED families! While you may not feel called to adopt internationally or domestically or through foster care, there are MANY who are willing and able and simply do not have the funds necessary. You CAN give financially to organizations like www.ShowHope.org and others who provide grants for such families. You can PRAY daily for these children who need the HOPE and LOVE of Christ in their lives. Everyone CAN do SOMETHING. I beg you to do one thing this month to help a child in need. Pray. Give. Support. Love.

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5 Months as a Family!

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Ok, let’s be honest. We are officially “in a groove.” I feel terrible for not updating this blog, but life is going full force and I haven’t taken the necessary time to document it all! Thankfully, Facebook has been a great outlet for our @dailydoseofcuteness for our #PrincessMia. Our life has absolutely changed for the better with her here!

School had started for the boys before Mia and Owen’s birthdays in August. Now, our weekly routine is Monday grocery shopping and later karate, Tuesday is kind of chill, Wednesday is karate and church, Thursday we stay kinda close to home, and Friday is fun and relaxing family time after school. Saturday mornings I go do a long run and the kiddos hang with Daddy. Sundays are either at our church here in town or out with Daddy in Portsmouth and those evenings are for cuddles and movies a lot of the time!

I know that being in an actual routine helps everyone so much! It has been a blessing for the boys to have their own days apart at school (though they LOVE seeing each other in the hallways or on the playground). Camden is loving Kindergarten, and while Owen has had a rough start to 3rd grade, I almost want to say that he, too, is settling into more of a routine there. Mia and Mommy spend the days together and she is great for playing or coloring solo while I work from home, or “helping” me around the house or joining me in my workout. She does best if we can eat lunch around 11:30am and lay down for a nap at noon, but that doesn’t always happen on time. Mia knows that after lunch is nap, and if she gets a good nap we get to go to school and get her brothers. I think that is her favorite part of the day! The smiles on their faces when the three kiddos see each other just light up that school lobby every day! They are so blessed to have each other!

In late August, we were given a gift of a photo session by a local photographer. It could not have come at a better time as Mia had just turned 3, and Owen had turned 8. I love that she captured our family in such a beautiful way! Thank you Stacy Collier and Collier Photography for this amazing blessing!

So what else is new, post-adoption?

After a few visits with our pediatrician, we felt as though we needed to change to an office that had worked more with international adoptees and was willing to work with our requests concerning Mia’s care. It was a hard decision because we had been with the same provider for many years now, but God made it clear that this was a move that we needed to make for our family. The paperwork took a little while, but we are going to be establishing care this week with our new pediatrician. Mia has turned three years old and it is going to be a process to “catch her up” with vaccinations and everything that most kids her age already have. I doubt that when she enrolls in Kindergarten she will even be up-to-date, but at least we will be in the process of doing so.

I had an initial visit with a First Steps program when we arrived home to see if there was a way to help Mia with learning English, and speech in general. When we had someone come to our house, it was difficult at the time to know if Mia really had a speech delay or if she simply hadn’t learned the English words for things yet. Since she was turning three soon, we decided to hold off on this formal evaluation. At three, the First Steps program is then run through the school system, so she would have to go through the process all over again. So, it’s just another thing I need to check on for her and haven’t gotten to it yet. At this point, I DO feel like Mia would benefit from some speech therapy. She has some stuttering around her words and repeats herself a lot. I know that she understands, but I don’t think she can clearly verbalize what she wants to say. We know her well enough to understand most of what she needs/wants, and other times we smile and nod along, like you do with any toddler learning to talk! I know that this is an area in which we could improve, and it’s on my list of to-dos!

Another thing on my list is to get Mia’s name officially changed for Social Security and all official documentation. When we arrived home, she was granted citizenship and we were able to get her on insurance and everything, but it was all under her Chinese name until we could receive her Certificate of Citizenship. She even was given a Social Security Card in her Chinese name. Well, we received that certificate back in July. Oops. Still haven’t filed it! I used to be on top of the ball with this stuff, and now it has gone to the back burner. Really, the only time that this comes up is with doctor appointments because her insurance is under Luoshu Guo instead of Mia Harvey. It’s just one of those things that I need to do and haven’t yet. When that is filed and her SSN has her English name, then insurance and doctors offices can also officially change her name for their records.

We will be scheduling our 6-month post-placement visit in October! I can’t believe how fast time has flown by! Honestly, those first 2 months were very difficult. I won’t sugar-coat it, but now, she is sleeping so much better and really KNOWS we are her forever family. I’m sure her little personality will abound during that visit!

While September has been a whirlwind, I think it is a GOOD thing that the days have flown by and I barely made mention of her being our daughter 5 months on September 19th. Don’t think that I will ever forget that adoption day. It’s not that I have forgotten anything, it’s more that she is our daughter through and through, and we are doing LIFE together now. It’s been so natural that focusing on specific dates doesn’t phase me anymore. When your baby is born, you track every day, then every week, then every month…some up to 24 months! Then, we celebrate years, birthdays, milestones. I know when we adopted Mia, we tracked our entire journey while in China, every day, every experience, and then the posts became fewer as we settled into family life. That’s OKAY! It doesn’t mean that we love her less, it means that we are busy loving her EVEN MORE with every passing day. Adoption Day will ALWAYS be a special day for our family, because that is what it really is: FAMILY Day. But, if I don’t update every month on that specific date, that’s okay. I will still chronicle everything on social media and my On This Day will remind me of milestones for years to come! 😉

Oh Lord, THANK YOU for our sweet girl. Thank you for answering our prayers that she would BOND with us and that our family would be undeniably UNITED in LOVE. Thank you for our children’s friendships with one another and I pray that they ALWAYS support and encourage each other in their faith, in their work, and in their dreams. Thank You for allowing us to be their parents. We are truly blessed and will forever give You the glory!

 

Mia Turns 3!

August 9, 2016. Mia Luoshu Harvey turned three years old! This was her very first birthday as a member of our family, and maybe the first time she has had a birthday celebrated ever. She has now been home 3 months and is doing incredibly well.

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I am happy to report that most of the time, Mia is sleeping through the night. We have the occasional potty time in the middle of the night (but no accidents), and she still rolls out of her toddler bed on a regular basis, but overall, she is doing very well. We have gotten away from formula completely and now warm up a cup of half skim milk and half water in the mornings.

We have spent a lot this third month going swimming, playing outside, and enjoying life together as a family.

Our family has definitely settled into a groove. The boys enjoy helping their sister with different things, and they also need a break from her, from time to time. Camden and Mia can be QUITE the mischievous pair! I have caught them head to toe in mud, and then another day they packed their bags and started watching movies together in the car (the car had no keys in it and was not on). They definitely keep me on my toes! They all have their moments, but when we say prayers at bedtime and they give each other big hugs and kisses, I know this is right where we are meant to be.

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Owen is thrilled to be going back to school this week and “getting away” from everyone. He is entering third grade. Seems unreal to me! Camden is going into Kindergarten (all day, every day), and seems a little apprehensive, but he really loves school, so I’m excited to see how he grows this year. Mia will be home with Momma all day and might be able to enter preschool early next school year (birthday cut off is August 1st). I am looking forward to this time with her and the time the boys will be busy and learning at school.

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In the morning of her birthday, Mia came in and slept with me in bed until 9am. This was probably the best present! When her brothers came in, they sang “Happy Birthday” to her and she was really excited for that. I can’t really put into words how I feel on this day. It is surreal that our daughter has never had a family celebration on her birthday. I am overjoyed to know that God has entrusted her to us and WE are the blessed ones to celebrate her, on her birthday and forever!

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Before we could go out to birthday dinner, we had to stop by the elementary school to have the boys meet their teachers during Open House. I had been saving a birthday dress for Mia to wear, and she got lunch all over it, so I did a load of laundry to make sure she could wear it for dinner! It was so fun to listen to all the “Happy Birthday” greetings to her as we walked through the school. It reminded me that we still have so many friends in the community cheering us on and praying for us.

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Then, we went on to dinner and Mia was able to enjoy a big dessert, even though she wasn’t sure about the hat! On the kids’ actual birth days, we typically allow them to pick a restaurant for dinner, since any kind of birthday party would be on a weekend. While most of Mia’s day was pretty ordinary, we gave her the same option of dinner choice. After much discussion, Mia decided on Tres Hermanos. I laughed because our Chinese daughter chose a Mexican restaurant for her first birthday as an American! 🙂

So, this birthday was pretty low-key, but I think it was appropriate for our princess. She doesn’t understand big birthday parties, but seems to enjoy the idea of cake, presents, and singing. This weekend, we are looking forward to some time with our family and having a small party here for her and Owen (his birthday is August 15th, and he is actually pretty excited to share a party with his sister).

As we enter in a new school year, we ask for your prayers as we once again transition. I think it will be a little difficult for Mia to lose her playmates during the day. Every new season of change can be a bit daunting. Thank you all for your continued support and love. We are so blessed and grateful for our now THREE-YEAR-OLD Princess Mia!

2 Months HOME & a Piece of Her Past

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It’s been 8 weeks since we came home with our precious daughter. For some reason, writing “8 weeks” minimizes the how we FEEL. It seems as though she has been with us forever. I know I have said that since Day 1, but it is true! It is something that can only be explained as a God-thing. HE made us for each other.

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So, here is a glimpse into our house these days:

We still try to have all the kids stay in bed until at least 7am. If Mia wakes up in the middle of the night, I’ll take her potty and then put her back in her toddler bed. I have to stay in there with her until she falls asleep, but then I wander back to my own bed. If she wakes up between 6-7am, we usually take her potty and put her in our bed until the boys wake up. Sometimes she sleeps a little more, sometimes she just lays with us quietly, but the rest of us can at least have a little more down time.

She is down to only 1 “bottle” a day, which is in the morning. This is basically 3 scoops of toddler formula powder in a take n toss sippy cup. We heat the water and that is what she wants first thing, while the boys eat their cereal. She has settled in nicely with the quiet morning routine where the kids watch something on the ipad or go play in their rooms for a while. But, eventually the nice play time turns to chaos and fighting and by then, I try to get my workout in. Sometimes they join me, sometimes they don’t and just fight with each other, which makes me push that much harder in my workout. 😉 Mia loves to jump and dance and be RIGHT UNDER me wherever I am working out, so I try to include her as much as possible without stomping on her! She definitely gives me an extra challenge.

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We have spent a lot of time with nerf guns, tiny legos that get lost or stuck on everyone’s feet, and hot wheels. While Mia has dolls and a cute dollhouse, she tends to follow whatever the boys do, good or bad. All of the kids love going outside and playing in our little pool. I use sunscreen on her beautiful brown skin, but she just gets darker and darker, with no burn. She still LOVES bubbles and swings and anything outside.

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We weren’t sure if Mia would be okay in a carseat (since she never had to ride in one before coming to the USA), but she does just fine, and loves to buckle herself in. Our biggest problem is what we call the “storm before the calm.” This is where she screams out or spits or does something else that she knows she shouldn’t do, and tries our patience on end….until she falls asleep in the car. The boys tend to laugh at her antics, making it even harder to teach her that we need to be kind and not kick seats or scream or spit. *sigh* We’re trying. We’ll get there.

Karate is twice each week, so Mia has learned that is coloring time and we try to stay out of the way of the kids in class. For the most part, she does really well. She really likes when other kids are there to play, too.

Over the last couple of weeks, Mia’s food choices have broadened. She will now eat some cooked veggies, and tried and liked edamame this past weekend. She still prefers carbs and sweets, but what kid doesn’t? Raw veggies and hummus are the family fave and she loves her fruits for sure. Meats are hit or miss, but we are doing better than when we first got her. I would say definite progress! 🙂 We have given her apple juice on a rare occasion, but almost exclusively water. We still haven’t braved the regular milk thing again, but will probably start mixing it in her formula to wean her off that. She does fine with dairy and other milk products, but regular milk makes her sick, so we are being super careful of any drinks other than water. But, this girl, like her brothers, loves Shakeology! So, at least I know she is getting some vitamins and minerals in that way!

The hardest part for our family has been the transition the boys are going through. Mia feeds off of her brothers’ energy and attitudes, so when they throw tantrums (and they do), she thinks she should/can do the same things. So, basically it is chaos in our house many times throughout the day. Owen is a great big brother and super caring for his sister, but he will get tired of that role and start yelling at her or Camden out of nowhere. He can take that ‘parent’ role too far, and we have to remind him that while he has been given some extra responsibilities, he is not actually the parent. Camden has many issues with sharing toys or anything really. Since Mia tends to slap him, he will also be pushing her or grabbing toys out of her hands that she took from him. It is very exhausting. Some things we need to share, and other things they need to be able to have in their own possession. This control thing with the kids is difficult because their world has been turned upside down and completely OUT of their control. We try to be sympathetic, but honestly, I am very blunt and logical (which typically gets lost on them), and I just try to explain that if they want something, this is how you can get it, and being kind is always the answer. Thankfully, there are many hugs and kisses and compliments going around as well.

Discipline is hard with Mia because we need to practice “time-ins” where she sits next to us or at least in the same room. There is no “go to your room” talks with her. Sending her away is not going to help her, only hurt her and cause her to question abandonment. While she understands almost everything we are saying (and we are able to do less and less with charades), she STILL does not understand family dynamics like the boys do. We do not spank her or anything that would be perceived as harm. While we believe that she was very loved at her orphanage, we honestly have no idea what her past holds. And we never want her to think that Mommy and Daddy are going to hurt her. So, what do you do when your child is directly defiant? Well, that is what we are working on. It is a lot of trial and error and trying to show love and what is right and wrong, all at the same time.

Over the last two weeks, we have made great progress with attachment, to the point where we felt she was able to stay in church child care without me present with her! It was amazing! I actually was able to listen to a couple sermons LIVE this week! I had gone 10 weeks without being IN a church service, so I think God knew I needed it. I had no reservations about Mia being in Gregoryville kids church or Wednesday night, because we had been there enough that she knows some of the kids. The first place we ended up using childcare was at LifePoint Church on Father’s Day. Let’s just say, she did MUCH better than I did! I was a nervous wreck! If you know me, than you know that I have never had issues with leaving my kids in nursery…but this is different. What if she needed me? What if she looked for her “Mama” and I wasn’t there? Well, she did great and I worried for nothing! So, we had her go back to kids church at Gregoryville this week with her brothers and she happily waved ‘good-bye’ to Mom and Dad and skipped off to class. Another reason why I praise God! He has just blessed every single step!

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Mia had two doctor appointments this week with specialists. The one says she only needs to go every six months, and the other says only once a year! For a kid labeled “special needs” I think she is pretty fantastic and pretty healthy! We give thanks and praise to God for how he has healed her in some ways and protected her in others. I know this is vague, but we are keeping this part private from our blog. Just know that if you have EVER considered adoption, PLEASE consider a child with “special needs.” The most beautiful children can come with an ugly label that doesn’t have to mean scary and unmanageable things. I am forever grateful that I was able to work with all kinds of kiddos with needs at Maria’s Big House of Hope in China and allowed God to open my heart to consider adoption in this way. I am thankful that God opened John’s heart, too. If not for that trip, I don’t know that we would have had our daughter.

Speaking of China, we had a special surprise over the weekend. John connected with one of the nannies when we went to visit Mia’s orphanage. In China, everyone uses an app called, “WeChat.” This is very much like Facebook Messenger, but since Facebook isn’t allowed in China, they use “WeChat” for everything. So, John and the nanny, Esther, exchanged WeChat information so that we could receive old pictures of Mia from her and she could get updates from us. She was especially fond of Mia because her daughter, Jolie, was good friends with her, so the two girls kind of grew up together. So, when John received a WeChat message from Esther I was pleasantly surprised! Of course, she wanted to know about Mia and we wanted to know about her past. She sent some moving pictures, which we couldn’t capture from the app, but there were a couple of still pictures we did receive, including this one…

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Every little piece of Mia’s past is incredibly important to us. We want to be able to share with her as much as possible, if she wants to know. I am so glad that she had a nice little friend there, and that Esther cares enough for her to keep contact with us. She even sent Mia a little voice message in Chinese so Mia could hear it! Mia definitely understood what she said and seemed to recognize Esther’s voice. I know she is losing her Chinese language, but it was neat to have the technology for her to hear that. A couple of days later, Esther sent us this picture of Mia at 11 months old…

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Isn’t she GORGEOUS? Oh, my heart! It was just the BEST thing to see this picture. To date, this is the youngest picture we have of her.

Oh, sweet girl, as you are currently sleeping on your floor (because you constantly fall out of your toddler bed), I am so grateful for YOU. I hate that it took 2.5 years for you to be in a forever family, but we are yours and you are ours. We love you with an everlasting love. I hope you always know that you are safe, you are treasured, and you are loved. We thank God that He hand-picked you to be Mia Luoshu Harvey. May you grow to know Him and love Him and trust Him all of your days.

Meeting the Family…

This past weekend we spent about 22 hours in the car over four days. Why? Well, our siblings were moving from Pittsburgh to Charlotte, and with all the crazy moves we have done in our married life, we owed them one. The plan was to drive from Kentucky to Pittsburgh, from Pittsburgh to Charlotte, then Charlotte to Kentucky again. John was to be the muscles and help with loading and unloading, while I entertained the three kiddos and took Mia around to meet some family members. While it was exhausting, it was SO worth it.

First stop: Morgantown, West Virginia. This is the hometown of John’s father and the Harvey clan. We have always made it a point to stop and see his grandparents every time we drive through, since well before we even got married. John’s grandmother passed away two years ago, making these visits with Grandad even more meaningful for all of us. We know that time does not stand still and we want to make sure to visit as much as we can. It was a thrill to watch Grandad interact with Mia and see her play with all the toys that have become classic family favorites. We ate lunch together at the local Denny’s and then stopped at the family plot where John’s dad, grandmother, and other relatives are buried. We spent a little more time back at his house, and unfortunately had to say good-bye. Mia really enjoyed meeting her Great-Grandad and I was so happy that she could. This man has been a huge influence on John’s life and is a constant source of encouragement to us both. His love for his family and community is never ending. We are so blessed!

Next stop: Pittsburgh. Well, we SAY Pittsburgh, but technically, our family lives north of the city in Beaver County. It was great to see our siblings and nephews again that evening and for Mia to finally meet her Grandad Gary. Time with Memaw and Grandad is always fun, and we were glad to spend two nights with them. I think Mia liked wearing Grandad’s hat!

The next day, John was busy helping his brother load up the moving truck, so I only stopped by for a few minutes for Mia to meet a long-time family friend. Miss Anna has been around a LONG time with us. My mom taught her piano from the time she was a little girl, and now, Anna has been teaching our nephews piano for years. She has an amazing heart and she and her family are just dear friends of ours. It is so wonderful to see my mom’s work carry on through one of her students!!!

After that quick stop, I took the kids across the state line to see my Grandpa in Ohio. He lives at an assisted living facility, where my sister had visited him the day before. She had told him that we were coming and bringing Mia to meet him. It was SUCH a great visit! We had a wonderful time talking about China, the process, and he constantly complimented her and how pretty she is! She played with some stuffed bears with Grandpa and they got along really well. He loved watching all three kids interacting as siblings do, wrestling a little and playing together. These moments are always precious to me. I am sure that it makes my Grandpa a little sad to see us because it reminds him that my parents are gone, but on this day, he was happy. And that makes my heart happy, too.

That evening, we went to my Aunt Cindy and Uncle Pete’s house. My mom was the oldest of four girls, and Aunt Cindy is #3. Her daughter, April, is my best friend and we have done absolutely everything together. In fact, we talked about adopting from China together when we were just little girls. Going to Aunt Cindy’s house is like going home. Mia took to everyone so so well. We played corn hole and demonstrated some exercises the kids like, and just had a great time! My Aunt Carolyn (the youngest sister) joined the party a little later from Cleveland. It was so special to have her drive all that way to see us! Mia honestly acted like she had been part of the family forever. She had no problems playing with everyone and posing for pictures! Any time I can see my aunts is a blessing to me. I am so glad to share my daughter with them and the joy that comes with her.

Saturday was “moving day.” This was the longest driving day, but we made it in 8 hours, even with a couple quick stops. When we arrived in Charlotte, my cousin, Shawna, and her husband, Michael, were there right away to help unload the truck. Their daughter, Madison, is only six months older than Mia and the two girls played like best friends! I was thankful that Maddie is outgoing and went to play with Mia right away. Camden was a great big brother/cousin on the playground, and eventually, we got all the kids together! What a treat! The only family we were missing from this generation of littles is my cousin, April’s. They live in St. Louis with two boys and a little girl. Maybe some day we will get them ALL together!!

The last of my mom’s sisters got to meet Mia Saturday evening. Aunt Jo Ann and Uncle David have lived in Charlotte for many years now, and my sister lived with them during the summers when she was in college. The fact that she has finally moved there is exciting for them all! Aunt Jo Ann is the second oldest after my mom, and the sister who shared a room with her growing up. The two of them were very close. Sunday, before we left to come home, we were able to visit a little more with them.

The drive home was long, but the entire weekend was worth it. I grew up knowing that family is so so important. They give you roots and wings. They are your friends. They know the real you, and love you anyways. My mom’s side of the family has always been close, even through many ups and downs. I am grateful to know and love my cousins and their families. I hope this next generation of kids will have the same opportunities to have that bond. I know we sure do try!

As we were coming home, I was just thinking about what this trip meant to me and started getting emotional. It’s hard to process through the feelings. Our daughter got to meet her FAMILY this weekend. These people who will love her through thick and thin. They will protect her and guide her and keep her on the straight and narrow. I know they have done that for me. I don’t have my parents anymore, but I DO still have family. My three aunts are the closest I will ever get to my mom, and I do not take time with them for granted. They love me and my kids like we are their own. How special it was to see all three of them in the same weekend. When you don’t live in the same states, it makes it really hard to see each other! Whether near or far, there is always love. I am thankful that my children are still recipients of that kind of love, even though their Nana is in heaven. I’m grateful that they can know their history and heritage through their aunts. I am grateful that I grew up in a family who does not see color, but sees the child. What our family passes down is more than nationality. They pass down the love of God and lives of integrity and worship.

No, Momma isn’t here anymore, but pieces of her are all around. I carry her in my heart, and I know that my aunts do, too. I can’t help but praise God for His blessings!!

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