“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."

Monday, February 14, 2011

Journey to a Family of 5 (Here We Go....Again!)

"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

Someone so kindly emailed me to say that in a post way back on November 18, (on the anniversary of the night I first saw Aaron's photo and knew I was supposed to be his mom), I had given a "hint" at the end of a post but never followed up on it. The hint was the Bible verse at the top of today's post. Oh dear, time has certainly gotten away from me apparently! I apologize for that!

As was hinted in that post, and should come as NO SUPRISE to anyone, yes, we are going back to China for our next child. Our paperwork is in China, and we are waiting. The wait time is so long...probably more than 5-6 years even with being expedited for Chinese descent. We will NOT be waiting in that long line; once the boys are both in school full time (fall 2012) we will begin looking for a waiting child as we did with Aaron (this time a daughter, between the ages of 2 and 4). There are currently over 2000 children on China's Shared List of Waiting Children. Each one deserving to find their Forever Family, as Aaron has.

I think part of the reason I never followed up here on my blog, is that I had shared this news in our Christmas letter, and somehow thought I had typed the same thing here. Here's what I wrote in our Christmas letter:
Expanding our family by the process of adoption has been such a positive experience for us. In fact, we are happy to say it is a process we have embarked on once again! Within a week of arriving home with Aaron, Donovan told us that he loved his new brother so much, and asked that we please go back to China for another sibling for Aaron and him. (Little did he know this was exactly what we had been planning to do!) Donovan and Aaron understand, just as we do, that we have the ability to change the life of another child from China, who deserves the chance at the love of a family. At this point, our paperwork has been logged in with the Chinese government to adopt our next child, this time a sister for Donovan and Aaron. The adoption process from China is a lengthy one, and it is likely the boys will be in kindergarten or first grade before we are matched with a little girl. In the meantime, these two boys of ours keep us busy and help us to focus on what is truly important in life!

We actually completed our home study update at the same time our social worker came to our home to complete our 6 month post placement report on Aaron. The truth is that less than a month after getting home with Aaron I had contacted our wonderful social worker, Ann, and let her know she should be prepared to do our home study for our next adoption when she came for Aaron's post placement visit/report in August, and that is exactly what happened. I knew before we went to China that we'd be going back for another child, and of course my experience visiting Aaron's orphanage on April 15 solidified that for us. Seeing all of the children there, each deserving a family of his/her own, and knowing this was just one of hundreds, likely thousands of orphanages in China, millions of children in need of families...well it is overwhelming and as the Bible verse says at the top of this post, we feel responsible to act...to be the family for one of the children who needs one.

And so, we happily embark on this journey we have chosen to become a family of 5!

Friday, February 11, 2011

10 Months Ago Today

10 Months Ago Today We Met Our Son

First Moments

Rupert Holding His New Son

Happy Boy back in the hotel room, drinking grape juice (surely for the first time in his life)

Father and Son Looking Down on the World Below

Returning to Orphanage to Say Goodbye

10 Months ago today, we met our son Aaron, at the Civil Affairs Office in Guangzhou, China. While we were sitting on a couch across from an elevator, waiting for the office to reopen from lunch, the elevator doors opened, and we saw 4 children with nannies, standing inside it. Immediately we saw Aaron, dressed in green overalls, and wearing the yellow soccer shirt we had sent him in a care package. We met a most handsome boy, still ill from motion sickness on the 2 1/2 journey by van from the orphanage, drinking a box of soymilk. Rupert carried Aaron to our van, where Aaron promptly fell asleep on the ride to the hotel. Aaron walked holding our hands, called me Mommy right away and Rupert "gar gar" (older brother!!) for quite some time (must have been because Rupert looks so young!) One thing that makes me laugh is that for the first few hours, Aaron spoke in this tiny whisper and we thought, Oh how cute. I assume now that was just due to being frightented of the new situation. Never again have we heard that whisper...even when we have asked him to please speak more quietly! Oh how Aaron's life (and our life) has changed in the past 10 months. One thing has not changed about Aaron in 10 months - he embraces each new aspect of his life with openness and enthusiasm. I look forward to what the future holds for all of us!

Aaron Waiting For His Forever Family (taken about 13 months ago)

Aaron last month on his 4th Birthday! (I remember seeing his referral photos and worrying because he was not smiling in any of them. And now, this little boy of mine is almost always smiling and laughing. His enthusiasm is infectious!!)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How on Earth did you get a BOY from China?

We get this comment/question quite often..."How on Earth did you get a BOY from China?"My reply is now normally, "Oh, we ASKED for HIM." (Which by the way is the truth...once I saw his photo on the list of waiting children, I knew instantly I was to be his mother...and we submitted our LOI ({Letter of Intent} to adopt him. We did ask for him...)

Often people will then clarify their initial commment/question and rephrase it something like this, "I thought only girls were available to adopt from China." To which I now normally reply, "No there are boys also. MANY of them. Thousands of them. In a country where it is ILLEGAL to have more than one child, the gender of the second child really does not matter. Sure a birth family might try to keep a male second child for longer than if that child were a girl...but again, the law is the law, and the penalties for breaking it are stiff. Thousands of boys are available for adoption from China. On China's current Shared List of Waiting Children, there are over 2000 children available, and more than half are boys...By the way, why do you ask, are you interested in adopting a child who needs a family?"
My favorite version of this comment/question(sarcasm here) is, "They have boys in China?" My reply: "Yes, they have both boys AND girls in China, just like in every other country on our planet." (I realize they likely mean, they have boys also available for adoption in China, not just girls? but geez, think before you ask a stranger a question about their family/child in front of their child!)

Another fun one is, "Is his father Chinese?" - to which I get to point to Donovan AND Aaron and say, "Yes, THEIR father is Chinese."

Now I don't mind when someone is asking questions about our family because they have adopted or are considering adopting...but otherwise, it never fails to amaze me how people seem to think it is their business...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Chinese New Year in Donovan's Preschool Class

Rupert and Donovan demonstrating a Dragon Dance with our dragon head.

Donovan trying on the dragon head his preschool class made!

Dragon Dance

"Spark" the Chinese Dragon (the class voted on a name; Donovan suggested "Spark" and it received the most votes)

Dragon Dance

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year!

We spent a wonderful morning as "parent helpers" in Aaron's preschool class. We shared with the class a bit about Chinese New Year, how our family celebrates, and enjoyed special snacks and a dragon dance.

Aaron showing his classmates the candy tray and the "lai see" (lucky money) envelopes (with 2 chocolate coins inside) he would be giving them.

Nicole reading Bringing In the New Year by Grace Lin to the class. Since it was Aaron's special "parent helper" day, he enjoyed sitting on Daddy's lap during Circle time!

Nicole dressed as the dragon.

After our Dragon Dance, the children used rhythm sticks while listening to Chinese music.

Aaron and Donovan's preschool is a parent cooperative one, in which each day a child in the class has his/her parent(s) as "parent helper(s)." We rotate through so that we parent help once every 17 school days. We had arranged it so that we would be the parent helpers during Chinese New Year.
We read the book, Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin and talked a bit about what we do as a family to celebrate the holiday. For example, wearing red for good luck, getting haircuts before the New Year so we don't cut off the good luck, and giving "lai see" ("hong bao" in Mandarin) which is "lucky money." We brought a dragon head for a dragon dance with the children, which they all loved doing.
For snack we had clementines, Goldfish crackers to symbolize the whole fish, long noodles to symbolize a long life, Chinese New Year Cake -which they loved!, and fortune cookes.
We also brought our Chinese candy tray filled with candy and each child was so happy to choose some candy to start the new year off with sweetness! Aaron was so proud to hand out lai see (lucky money) to his classmates (with chocolate coins inside).
This is just Aaron's 3rd day of school and we were amazed at how comfortable he is with his new teachers and classmates (who have been together since September). Everyone commented and said it seems like he has been there all along! That was great to see!

Tomorrow morning we go to Donovan's classroom to do this again. His class has been studying about Chinese New Year and they have made a paper mache dragon head and a LONG dragon body. The local newspaper may be coming to do a story!!

Gong Hei Fat Choi!