“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, 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...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Special Friend of Aaron's Met Her Family Today!

It is with great happiness in my heart that I have been following the journey of a special little girl from Aaron's orphanage, and today she has been united with her Forever Family.

In August I became aware of this most beautiful little girl available for adoption, who is from Aaron's orphanage. For a weekend I wondered if perhaps we were to be her family, but upon seeing more specific information about her, I learned she was about to turn 4, and was three months older than Donovan. I feel strongly that we will not disrupt the birth order of our family as we add to it; Donovan will always remain the oldest. (And, even if she had been a younger 3 year old, I still remember thinking I was probably crazy to consider having virtual triplets!) And so, I began advocating for this very special little girl. In one of the adoption support groups I am part of, an online friend, Diana, contacted me to tell me that a close friend of hers had also requested the little girl's file and was having it reviewed by a doctor. I was able to tell Diana a bit about the Bao'an orphanage, to share with her friend. I kept praying that this family would be the one for this little girl, and was so happy to learn that they decided to adopt her. I have been following their blog as they have been preparing for their trip. (It's Waiting for Lucy on my list of blogs). This special girl's name is now Kit and today she has met her parents and her beautiful sister, Lucy, who was also adopted from China.

While protecting the privacy of both Kit and Aaron, I will say that they knew each other quite well at the orphanage, and share a special connection. (When I first saw her photograph, I thought there was a resemblance between the two of them, and other people mentioned this to me also, and I wondered....could they be....biological relatives? But now that I have seen photos of her a little older, that resemblance is gone. Likely it was simply a similar way the orphanage staff posed them in their photographs for their adoption files. In any case, they both lived for over 3 years at the same orphanage. They were both in the 3 year old room/group for part of 2010 (Kit would have been there since August of 2009, and Aaron from Jan 2010 until we adopted him in April.) In fact, though we could not take video or photos inside the 3 year old bedroom when we visted it (we did take a photo of Aaron on his bed and one with the nanny of the room), I specifically remember seeing Kit lying in her bed as we walked through the room. (The children were napping.) When I showed Aaron some recent photos of Kit (taken when her new family sent her a birthday cake, as we did for Aaron), I asked him if he knew her in China, he said, "I'm not sure. I don't think so." I realized she looked different in the photos, from six months ago when he was last in China, and I knew he had certainly interacted with her. Soon after I showed Aaron the photos of Kit, I emailed the orphanage photos of Aaron (as part of him being home for 6 months) and specifically asked if Aaron knew Kit. They confirmed these two children did in fact know each other, and spent quite a bit of time together.

And so today my heart is full of happiness for this beautiful little girl, a friend of Aaron's from his time in the orphanage, has found her Forever Family!