“For I know the plans I have for you…to give you hope and a future.”

With Great Joy We Introduce Our Newest Son Aaron Donald Walsh Ho

With Great Joy We Introduce Our Newest Son Aaron Donald Walsh Ho
Born January 17, 2007 Guangdong Province, The People's Republic of China Forever Ours April 12, 2010
"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Aaron and Donovan!

It's 2 pm and the boys are napping and still have presents to open..
Aaron...certainly taking it all in, but overwhelmed by the holiday.
Donovan, for almost every gift, he said, "Oh I've been wishing for this." So cute!!
Here are a few photos. I'm putting captions/information above each photo.

Donovan and Aaron as reindeer!

Donovan and Aaron in front of the Christmas tree on Christmas morning, with the gifts Santa left!

Proudly holding new trains Santa left them. Aaron received Emily; Donovan received Edward. Donovan wondered if Sir Toppham Hat would recognize them and call them by name when they were driven through the station (on the train table Santa brought last year). Sure enough...as they drove through, Sir Toppham Hat called out their names. Both boys were beaming ear to ear!

Grandma brought Santa hats for the boys and they loved wearing them!

Mommy and her 2 boys!

Daddy and his 2 boys!

Mommy and Donovan

Silly boys!

Fun with blocks and marbles!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sledding Fun!

Donovan and Aaron in front of the sign at Donovan's WONDERFUL preschool. No school this week and next and we went to use the sledding hill.

Donovan on the sledding hill. These photos do not do it justice - it is tall and steep and we fly down it on the sleds! The boys LOVE it!

Full Speed Ahead! Look closely and you can see those bumps/jumps where Donovan is. He was laughing the whole way down!

Pure joy at the end of his sled run

Here is Aaron flying off course! A WILD RIDE!

This is Aaron walking over to check on how Mommy and Donovan are doing, after we veered off course and crashed! We were fine - and laughing hysterically!

Hmm...What am I supposed to do now?

Heading back up the big hill

Happy Boy heading up for one more run

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Polar Express to the North Pole

Sunday we rode on the Polar Express to the "North Pole" and saw Santa. It was a magical day!!

The Polar Express is a very special event, based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg. In our area, it runs for just one weekend. It's difficult to get tickets. We've never had luck with the lottery system for purchasing tickets, and are so fortunate a colleague of mine volunteers at Polar Express. Volunteers are entitled to purchase 4 tickets, and last year and this year she has graciously allowed me to purchase those tickets. We are so fortunate!

This year was Donovan's 2nd time on the Polar Express, and of course, Aaron's first. What a wonderful day! We arrived, waiting indoors until the conductor announced, "All Aboard," and then we walked up and boarded the train. This year we rode in the rear car, which was a dining car - we had a table between us - it was wonderful. Aaron asked, "Do some people sleep on this train?" We were served cookies and hot chocolate, and as the train began to journey to the "North Pole," we sang Christmas carols. Our train had to come to a stop to switch tracks, and then we arrived at the North Pole where hundreds of elves, dressed in red, greeted us, waving and welcoming us to the North Pole. The children wore nametags, and the elves all called them by name. We were brought inside, and welcomed by a local choir singing, "Believe," and then one of Santa's helpers read The Polar Express to us. At the end, Santa arrived, and said, "If you believe, follow me," and motioned up a large staircase. The line was long, and when we reached the top, both boys were eager to see Santa. Donovan went first, and hugged Santa, who promptly picked him up and hugged him. It was so sweet. Then Aaron approached and hugged Santa and Santa bent down and kissed Aaron. Then both boys were given their silver bells, which they were ringing all the way back to the car...

I remember last year as we walked into the North Pole Station, Donovan realized the Elves were calling him by name because he was wearing a name tag. He promptly covered it with his hand, to avoid the attention...This year however, he LOVED the attention - giving the Elves high fives when the offered. Last year on the train ride, Donovan was totally into looking out the window (FIRST TRAIN RIDE) and eating his cookie and not very interested in the singing of Christmas carols and did not like hot chocolate. This year he drank the hot chocolate and while certainly he was very interested in looking out the window for reindeer and elves, he was very much interested in what was going on inside the train car.

And Aaron? It amazes me how this child of ours approaches each new holiday with such openness and enthusiasm (dress up as a monkey and say Trick or Treat? SURE!; he's already talking about how in the spring when the bulbs he planted with Grandma come up an Easter Bunny is going to come and bring him jelly beans) In preparation for the Polar Express, we've been reading the book and talking about it for a couple of weeks now. Aaron was aware of the schedule - train ride, book read aloud, see Santa. He was a bit uneasy during the long wait, wanting to run his fingers through my hair. Once it was time to go on the train, he was ready! He LOVED the train ride. We kept asking him what he thought, and he said, "Good," and "Really Good." He was shy when we arrived at the North Pole and the elves were calling him by name (much like Donovan last year), but sat nicely for the story and was brave to go up to Santa and give him a hug. His response to receiving the bell...the biggest smile ever - and it lasted all the way to the car.

We asked what they liked best:
Donovan: "EVERYTHING!"
Aaron: "The train ride, and the hot chocolate, and the book, and Santa, and my bell."

Magical Day for our Family!

Everything Changes...

"Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names.
They are easier to ignore before you see their faces.
It is easier to pretend they're not real before you hold them in your arms.
But once you do, everything changes."

~ Anonymous ~

8 months ago today, we met our son, Aaron, and yes, everything changed for one incredible little boy, and everything changed for one lucky Mommy, one lucky Daddy, and one fantastic brother.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

From Aaron's Province...

We've heard so much in the news about China perhaps ending the One Child Policy...however, this policy is very much still THE LAW.

And people ask us all the time why boys are abandoned in China...
Well...this news story is from Aaron's province in China...(You'll have to click on the option to SKIP THE AD to get to the article.)


We are much more familiar with Chinese baby girls being abandoned (often the first child and parents abandon the baby and try for a boy), but when there is already one child in the family, and a 2nd child is born...the gender doesn't matter. You've violated the law...I think some people might try to keep the boys longer, but when your family/relatives are in danger, the child is often abandoned and no one asks where he/she went...So sad...

I think as Americans, we cannot begin to comprehend a local government taking a family member hostage until the Mother succumbs to forced sterilization. This blatant human rights violation is appalling in this day and age in a developing country. The women and children and families of China deserve so much better...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Making a Difference...

We had an absolutely wonderful weekend with our boys - nothing out of the ordinary, just lots of fun at home. I love watching Aaron and Donovan and the relationship they share. Almost 8 months that we have had Aaron as our son and I'm thinking about what a difference he has made in our lives, and we have made in his. Love this story (below)...

Once upon a time there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day he was walking along the shore. As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day.

So he began to walk faster to catch up. As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man and the young man wasn't dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.

As he got closer he called out, "Good morning! What are you doing?"
The young man paused, looked up and replied, "Throwing starfish in the ocean."

I then asked, "Why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?"

"The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don't throw them in they'll die."

"But, young man, don't you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can't possibly make a difference!"

The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the ocean, past the breaking waves and said -

"It made a difference for that one."

Our decision to adopt Aaron obviously made all the difference in his life, but in ours too - we are so lucky!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cutting our Christmas Tree (Aaron's First Christmas Tree)

I especially love the photos of Donovan and Aaron pretending to cut down small trees. My favorite is the one of Donovan pretending the tree is falling and yelling, "Timber." Makes me laugh every time!
Friday night we put the lights on after the boys went to bed. When they woke up and saw the tree lit up, Aaron exclaimed, "Oh so beautiful!" and then asked if he could touch the lights. In the afternoon the boys helped decorate the tree. We are about halfway done. This tree is much smaller and thinner than the ones we usually get. (We usually get 10+ feet tall trees and very, very full trees. This one is just about 8 feel tall and not so full. There just were not any BIG trees.) I am wondering how many of our ornaments we will be able to get on this tree!

Happy Thanksgiving!

So much to be thankful this year - especially our two boys! Here are two photos before we ate. Aaron loved his first big turkey!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

One Year Ago Today, I First Saw My Son's Face

One year ago today, one day after Donovan turned 3 years old, I saw my first photo of Aaron's sweet face, and knew immediately that he was supposed to be my son; I was supposed to be his mother. It was something instinctive, something in my heart. The only way I can describe it is to say, at that moment, when I first saw his photo, it felt no different than looking at a photo of Donovan. I just KNEW; I just KNEW he was MY SON.
I immediately requested his file. I remember calling to Rupert in the other room and showing him the photo and saying, "This little boy is supposed to be our son." Of course Rupert asked, "Are you sure? How do you know?" I said, "I'm sure. I don't know how I know, but I just KNOW he is supposed to be my son. I'm supposed to be his mom."
On this day (and every day) I think especially of a woman who I will likely never know in person, who responded to an online inquiry I made on RQ (Rumor Queen), a forum for parents who have or are adopting from China. This special woman, Shannon, told me her agency had just received a new list of waiting children, and now had about 100 children on their list. She specifically mentioned a gorgeous 2 year old boy. The truth is, since we weren't looking for a BOY, I didn't pay attention to the ID# of the boy she had mentioned. Shannon's agency was Great Wall of China Adoption. I quickly emailed them and within minutes received a password to view the list. I began looking down the list at all the adorable children's photos. A few minutes later, as I scrolled down the list, about 3/4 of the way down the page, a photo caught my eye. (It's the photo at the top of today's post.) Looking at the photo, I said aloud, “That’s my son.” It felt no different than looking at my son, Donovan. After staring at this gorgeous little boy's photo for quite some time, I clicked back on the woman’s email and saw that the child she had been telling me about was #97. Going back to Great Wall’s website, I began scrolling down, looking for #97, only to discover,... the little boy I had felt such a strong connection to WAS #97! The boy who had caught my eye, who I knew immediately, without a doubt was to be MY SON, was the SAME child this woman had been emailing me about. That night I emailed Great Wall and asked to review his file. The next day it was emailed to me. At the time I reviewed his file, I already knew in my heart, he was my son. It was similar to the feeling of when I was pregnant with Donovan; I knew the child growing inside me was my child, but I had not yet held him in my arms. Looking at Bao Xinsheng’s photos and reading his file, I already knew he was my son – I just had not held him in my arms yet…
And now, one year later, the sweet boy in that photo is MY son, and my world is so much better having him in my life.

I'm going to end this post, with a HINT of what is to come...

"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." Proverbs 24:12

The above Bible verse is a huge hint at our news which will be shared soon...(I'm sure most of you can certainly figure out what our news is! It will come as no surprise to those who truly know us.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

4 Years With Donovan: Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to Donovan!

It is not possible to adequately put into words how much I love him!

Photos above:
1) 4 years old - photo taken yesterday on our hike
2) 3 years old - photo taken just before Halloween
3) 2 years old - Photo taken on Christmas Day.
4)1 year old - photo taken on Chinese New Year.
5) New Baby - The photo taken at 8 days old that we used for his birth announcement.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Birthday Hike (One Day Early)

Today, the day before Donovan's birthday, the weather was gorgeous - not sunny, but in the 50s and no breeze. After preschool and lunch, I asked Donovan if he wanted to play outside with Aaron, and Donovan requested a "birthday hike like we went on last year." He has a good memory! On his 3rd birthday both Rupert and I took the day off from work to be with Donovan. After his 3 year physical and lunch at Al's, we went for a hike. Last November was so mild, that in fact on Thanksgiving day while the turkey was in the oven, we went on that same hike. Just at the end of our road there is a series of hiking trails through the woods. It's quite extensive in fact.
And so today, the boys and I headed out for our hike. They had so much fun, exploring and talking to one another, and I enjoyed every moment of simply observing my two incredible sons. At the end of the 45 minute hike, when I told the boys I was so sorry I had not thought to bring my camera, Donovan said, "That's okay Mommy, why don't we go get it and do the hike again." And so, that is exactly what we did.
I must add that last Thanksgiving, Rupert and I knew about Aaron. We knew we wanted to adopt him. We were waiting to see if the Chinese government would allow his file to be pulled back from the agency he was listed to and returned to the government, and then sent to our agency, so that we could lock his file and submit our LOI (Letter of Intent) to adopt him. I remember we talked during that walk about our concerns about having two boys basically the same age. (Can't believe we worried about that - they are the best of friends and bring us so much joy every day!) We also wondered if due to having been in an orphanage for 3 years, if Aaron would have some gross motor delays that would make hiking like that difficult. (While it was certainly reasonable to expect those delays, in Aaron's case they were so far from reality - this is a boy who was riding a 2 wheeler with training wheels the weekend we got home from China, and a few weeks later, swimming in our pool. In the beginning we did notice lots of stumbles and falls when Aaron was running on grass, but that was simply from having never done that before.) Today as I watched my two boys running together, ahead of me, and then turning and racing back to me (and Aaron squealing on the top of his lungs with enthusiasm, and Donovan giggling), I felt like the luckiest Mom ever...
Never in a million years would I have ever thought that when Donovan was turning 4, he would have a BROTHER, 2 months younger than him. And, yet our unexpected reality brings me so much more joy than I could have ever dreamed of one year ago...
Tomorrow is Donovan's 4th birthday and Thursday marks another special one year anniversary, for which I am starting to compose a post...