Formerly "To China For Kelly"

When I originally set up this blog, it was to chronicle our trip to China to adopt our daughter, Kelly; thus the title, "To China For Kelly." But now that I've decided to keep it up as my on-line scrapbook/journal, the title needs updating.
Inspired by my girls, who, despite their ten year age difference, both love lollipops and lip gloss; it is now titled, "From Lollipops to Lip Gloss." This is not to leave my son out, who also loves lollipops, but isn't too big on lip gloss, understandably!

Friday, January 30, 2009

One of the best gifts...

...I've ever received is the one my mom just gave me...
a housekeeper!

Since she learned of the changes we've been making with Kelly, she wanted to do something to help. She lives too far from us to come over and cook or clean for me, so she decided to do the next best thing- hire someone to come in and clean for me!

I never knew how wonderful it would feel to have someone do that for me. I really think it's the best gift I've ever received. I feel so loved and bolstered, I can't even tell you. I feel like I can take on the world now!
Truly, it has lightened my load so much physically, but I think even more so emotionally and mentally, as I don't have the burden of what I'm not getting done hanging over my head anymore, nor do I have to fight the feeling of irritation looking around at a dirty house. Now I just look around and sigh and smile. Plus, the light housekeeping I'll do in between the housekeeper's visits is now a pleasure to do because it's not so overwhelming. And last but not least, all this is so wonderful because it allows me to focus on the most important things: Kelly and my precious family.

Mom, you are gold, pure gold. I can't thank you enough for this most wonderful gift you have given me. My cup overflows!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Did I mention...

...that I also nap with Kelly nowadays? It's so hard to let go of being able to get things done (or update my blog!) while she naps, but I know it will be worth it in the long run.

Now here I said I wouldn't be back as frequently, and I'm back on the same day!

I meant to say thanks for everyones sympathies for my terrible neck ache I had for over a week! It's almost completely gone- thank God! Thanks so much for your kind and caring words. It was nice to know I'm not the only one who gets those once in a while.
Also, thanks for all the supportive and encouraging words each of you shared with me as we're dealing with these issues with Kelly. You just don't know how great it feels to have your support and love, especially when we're going through an especially hard time.

Without being too wordy, I really want to share a little bit more of what's happened with Kelly and why we are where we are.

As the months have gone by, Kelly has become more and more independent, stubborn, and strong-willed... at least, that was my perception of her. I thought it was just her personality- which some of it may be- but I've since realized there was more to it than that; I just didn't understand it at first.
She got to the point where she resisted being held at all. Snuggling and cuddling were out of the question. She would whine, wiggle, push, squirm, and eventually scream and cry if I would not put her down. My mistake was that I gave in to it; again, figuring it was just her personality. I didn't want to make her unhappy, so I would put her down when she fussed. (This put Kelly, the baby, in control- not me, the parent...!)

At the same time, Kelly became increasingly destructive. I mean, I know toddlers get into things and test their boundaries, but it was to the point that 90% of our interaction was negative. I was constantly saying, "Stop! No! Don't! Hey! NOOO! Get out of there! Put that down! No touch! KELLY ELISE! UUUGGGGHHHH!"
I was exasperated with her, and frustrated with myself because I was becoming more and more impatient and angry with her as each day passed. I longed to delight in her and enjoy her and connect with her, but she made it nearly impossible. I could tell we weren't bonding- she was actually growing a little bit harder and a little bit more distanced from me every day, and it was breaking my heart.
I began calling my sister at night after especially rough days, and as soon as I would hear her sweet, caring voice, I would lose it completely, sobbing uncontrollably. I felt overwhelmed... incompetent... defeated...hopeless.
Well, my sister happened to be in the midst of dealing with her own issues with her five-year old daughter, Hannah, and had recently learned that Hannah's struggles were attachment-related. She'd found a great book by Nancy Thomas from which she gained invaluable insight into Hannah's issues, and had also found an attachment therapist. As my sister listened to my stories of Kelly's behavior, she began to realize that everything Kelly was doing now, Hannah had done 3 1/2 years ago. She told me to check out Nancy Thomas' website, to see what I might find to help me there.
Sure enough, as I poured over Nancy's website, I found several behaviors she labeled as "red flags" to be exactly what Kelly was doing. I found a set of CD's on her website geared specifically for parents of toddlers with attachment issues, and ordered them. They're called "Taming the Tiger While It's Still a Kitten." (They're awesome! I highly recommend them.)

Since I've received the CD's and have started listening to them, I have gained so much insight into why Kelly is the way she is. She's not independent- she's just pushing me away, because love, to her, is scary and painful. Connections in her brain were not made because they can only be made when an infant is experiencing attachment. (There are five keys to attachment, which I will share in a later post.) So Kelly basically learned to suppress that need for love and touch- after all, isn't it too painful to long for something you're never going to get? She learned she couldn't trust or depend on anyone in that first year of her life, so now she's resisting it with all her might.

Her survival instinct is to try to control. That's why she does what she does- pushing me away, constantly acting out and pushing my buttons to get a reaction out of me. That's her way of seeking to be in control.
But what I've learned is that when a baby (or child) gains control like that over her parent, she actually doesn't feel safe, because she's smart enough to know that if she's more powerful than the adult that she's supposed to trust, then she certainly can't trust that adult at all.
So that makes the detached child feel more unsafe, which then, makes them seek more control, and on and on the cycle goes.

Well, let me back up a bit... as I began listening to Nancy's CD, she said a good assessment to figure out if your toddler really is dealing with an attachment disorder or not, would be to pick her up and get right in her face, and just love on her: kiss her cheeks, talk sweet to her and tell her how adorable she is.

Nancy said if she makes no eye contact with you, squirms and fights you like you're setting her on fire, then your child's got an attachment disorder.
So I tried it with Kelly.
I didn't back down and let her push me away like I was accustomed to doing, I got right in her face and tried to talk sweet to her and love on her like Nancy said. When her whining, squirming, and pushing wouldn't get me out of her face, she screamed and cried bloody murder. She never made eye contact with me, and she got so upset that she began to bite herself on her hand and arm. I just couldn't believe it... I mean, how could I have been so blind? She met so many of the other criteria Nancy mentioned for children with attachment disorders, but when I saw that, I couldn't believe how she did exactly what Nancy said she would do if she was indeed dealing with some attachment issues.

So that is how we came to realize we needed to make some major changes in order to help our precious little Kelly work through these issues and open her heart and her mind back up to loving, trusting, and being loved.

Well, I'm afraid I've managed to get wordy despite my best efforts not to... I apologize!

There's so much more I want to share about what I've learned, but I will sign off for now and update again soon. I need to get to bed anyway- it's late! But I just wanted you to know some of the reasons why we've come to the place we are today.
I do have to say, on a good note, that now that I've been holding Kelly all the time, oftentimes in my "kangaroo pouch" (as Nancy calls it... it's actually a Kozy Carrier), Kelly is resisting me less and less, and seems like she actually might be liking it. (Don't tell her I told you that!) She's actually made eye contact with me a few times too, and one time (after one of her worst fits where she started biting herself again), after she finally gave up and was completely exhausted, she just looked up into my eyes for a long time. I was holding her head in my hands, and the look on her face was so sweet and vulnerable... it reminded me of how Caleb and Camryn used to look up at me as newborns. It was one of the best moments I've shared with Kelly so far.
At first, she threw some serious fits though. She hit me, bit me, scratched me, not to mention kicking, crying and screaming until she was blue in the face. She's still doing this off and on. She's a very strong baby, so I'm getting my work outs now, that's for sure!

But every time she throws a fit, I just hold her and shush her, stroking her cheeks and her forehead. Sometimes I have to hug her close to me with her arms down to get her to stop hitting me, but when she finally gives up the fight, it's sooo amazing to feel her little body fold into mine. To feel her body relax when she's close to me- it's something I never realized I was missing until I'm experiencing it now, and it's wonderful.
Don't get me wrong- she still has lots of times where she resists me, but we're making progress, and that's all that matters.
This stuff works. Not that it's not exhausting and draining, because believe me, it is! But at least my exhaustion has a purpose now.

You know, I've been praying for Kelly for a long time, and I do believe this is all a part of God's answer. Thanks for being a part of her story as you pray for her too, and I thank God for His faithfulness to us, and especially, to Kelly. I know He loves her and gave her to us and I'm just thankful He saw fit for me to be her mommy. She is a gift I will be forever grateful for.

I'll try to update again soon!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I don't have time to explain much right now, but we are going through some changes at our house. (I'm attempting to type this with Kelly in my lap!)
Some of Kelly's behaviors over the past several months have sent up some red flags that she hasn't been bonding with us like she needs to, so we are taking a few steps back, actually all the way back to what they call "the fourth trimester." The idea is to give Kelly the opportunity to experience that closeness and total dependency on her mommy like a newborn baby would.
Here are some of the changes we've made:
1)I hold or carry Kelly almost all day long, facing me, as close as I can get her to my body.
2)We've gone back to bottle feeding a couple of times a day.
3) She's moved back into our room.
4) We (Kelly and I) exercise a couple of times a day, doing some specific exercises to help her brain heal from the effects that first year of neglect had on her.
5) We said goodbye to the TV. Instead, we listen to Mozart for babies now!
6)We give her massages a couple of times a day.
7) I spoon feed her all her meals. No more self-feeding for a while.

I wish I had more time to explain why we're doing these things. I'm learning sooo much and it's exciting to share. We're already seeing some slight changes in Kelly after only 6 days, so that's exciting too!

Bear with me if I'm not able to post much for the next few months. I really enjoy keeping up with our blog and others' blogs too, so I'm not saying goodbye... my visits will probably just be more brief, fewer and farther between for a while.

Happy Chinese New Year, which officially kicked off yesterday. Kelly wore her Qi Pao for the special day, but we had to layer it because it was chilly out. I didn't get any really good pictures of her like I wanted to, but we'll try again soon. Here she is, enjoying her slide with Caleb!

Caleb's going through a funny "less than photogenic" stage. Every picture I seem to take of him lately, he's half-blinking!

I had to get one of Camryn. She was on her computer, of course!

Kelly's so flexible. She's practically doing the splits here, if it weren't for the constricting Qi Pao, she probably would be! I love those little feet!

If you think of it, please pray for us as we go through this time with Kelly. We need an abundance of love, patience and wisdom as we try to help Kelly's precious little heart and mind heal. She's so worth it!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Boingo Fun

Have you ever slept wrong and woken up with your neck completely out of whack?
Friday morning, as soon as I woke up and moved, I could tell that's what had happened to me.
It killed if I tried to turn, rotate, or tilt my head to the right. It even hurt if I held my head straight. The only way it didn't hurt was if I had it turned slightly to the left. NICE.
Thankfully, every day that's passed since then has brought slight relief, so I'm on the mend, but I still can't tilt it very much to the right. I've been limited in my activity and have been switching between taking Ibuprofen and Aleve to manage the pain.
But Friday, we had a play date at Boingo's with Tami and Ford, our friends we went to the pumpkin patch with back in October, and no neck pain was going to stop us from going!
Tami and I lead a Girls Bible Study on Monday nights together, so she's become a good friend to me, and her little guy, Ford, is just precious. He and Kelly have very similar personalities- they both have lots of energy to burn, so Boingo's is the perfect place for us to meet up to play!
Kelly had a ball. I did too, despite the pain I was in. We are going to make this Boingo's thing a regular thing!

Friday, January 16, 2009


Camryn baked a cake for Kelly's referral anniversary.
Kelly remembered her Auntie's hint that vanilla frosting was best, so she requested white cake with vanilla frosting and sprinkles.
She thought it was y-u-u-u-mmmy!

We started out with a fork...

But ditched it for doing it the old fashioned way... with our hands, of course!

Mmmmmm... may I have another piece, please?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

One Year Ago Today

An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but never break.

One year ago today, we got that blessed call every waiting mother can't wait to receive...

we got our referral call.

For those unfamiliar with the adoption process, receiving your referral is the day you receive word that China and your agency have matched you with a specific child...
your specific child...
your baby girl...
your daughter.

I'll never forget, my sister had been doing the math and following the lists and she had called me earlier that day- she just knew CCAI had a new list and that we were going to get a call any time.

I remember being so nervous- I wanted to believe she was right, but I was so afraid to get my hopes up because I didn't want to be crushed if it wasn't our time yet.

But sure enough, my sister was right! Sarah from our agency called, and she had the best news in the world... they had a little girl for us!

Clint happened to be out of town, so we had to do a conference call. Sarah had us both on the phone and I remember how surreal it was as she told us her name.
Our daughter's name was Song Jia He.
I was trembling with excitement and awe.
She was real!
Our daughter was real!
And she had a name... a beautiful name...
Song Jia He.
I was beside myself.

Then I remember how I began to cry when Sarah told us how old she was. You see, we were listed to adopt a little girl up to 24 months old, so I was pretty sure we would be getting a little girl around the age of two. I was fine with that, but my heart secretly longed for a baby baby.

Well, God knows the desires of our hearts, doesn't He?

When Sarah told me that Kelly was nine months old, I was overcome with emotion. She was a baby baby!

After Sarah finished telling us all about our daughter-- where she lived, the name of her orphanage and her finding location- what she likes, what she doesn't like- how she's developing, her weight and her height-- she then asked us if we were ready for her to e-mail us her pictures. Without hesitation, we answered yes.

Clint was not able to get to a computer at the time so he would have to see the pictures later. He would call me as soon as he got back to his hotel room. We then hung up the phone and I called my sister as I waited for the pictures to come through. My sister and I were going over all of Kelly's information when the pictures arrived in my inbox.

As I sat there on the phone with my sister, I laid my eyes on my daughter for the very first time. I cried like I never knew I could.

She was so beautiful. So tiny, and so serious... and such a mystery to me. It was so strange that I didn't know her and she didn't know me, yet she was my daughter and I loved her.

Here are the pictures I saw that day:

On the Red Thread Journey of adoption,
that was the day that that long, winding red thread became taut,
and we got to glimpse who was at the other end!

I was so thrilled that I wanted to yank that red thread until Kelly was thrust into my arms, never to leave again!

Little did I know how much more agonizing the wait would get after that day. Oh, there were days I thought I would die. But we learned so much about perseverance in prayer through that time... especially Camryn who proved to be our faithful prayer warrior. There were days where I was so discouraged I couldn't even pray, but Camryn was always full of faith, ready and willing to pray.

Thankfully, it's all history now and Kelly's home where she belongs.

Today, we celebrate the one year anniversary of our blessed referral day!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tiny Dancer

One of Camryn's favorite things to do with Kelly is to take her in her room, dress her up, and play some music so Kelly can dance. Oftentimes, Camryn will video our tiny dancer.

Now the state of Camryn's room always leaves something to be desired (even though I am constantly on her to clean it up), so I always hesitate to post these videos because you can see so much junk everywhere in the background! But I've finally been weakened... these videos were just too sweet not to share. They're a couple of weeks old, but I found them today while I was organizing. Kelly's got so many more moves than the spinning she was doing in these clips- she's really got good rhythm.

It's so fun having this tiny person in our house, and these videos give me the chance to enjoy her through the eyes of her sweet, big sister...

Friday, January 9, 2009

A New Game of Tag!

My friend, Cheri, tagged me with this new game of tag! You're supposed to open your fourth folder of pictures and then open your fourth picture in that folder- then you post the picture on your blog and explain it. Then tag four more people!
So this picture was in my folder of animal pictures. Ambitious little guy, isn't he? This is just one of those cute photos I've held onto because it makes me smile.
I tag:
1) My sister, Jen, at myfourlittlehawks.blogspot (we're step-sisters, technically, but she's every bit my sister in my heart, but that explains why we were blessed with the same name!)
2) Janice - at momtoo3.blogspot
3) Angela- who's in Vietnam getting her baby boy right now! She gets an extension for playing until she gets home. ;)
4) Beth- at tochinaforjia.blogspot
And anyone else who wants to play, join in!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Bangs !

I struggled so much over whether or not to give Kelly bangs, but obviously, I gave in today! It was just driving me crazy to see her hair hanging in her eyes all the time-- and pulling it back with clippies or bows was not working very well because she's always pulling them out! Truly, I would say I was re-clipping her hair back at least a dozen times a day!
But isn't she cute with bangs? I think she looks so much older, which makes me kind of sad. =(

I was having a hard time getting her to be still... as usual!

This cheesy smile actually isn't a smile. It's what she does now when I say, "Kelly, where are your teeth?" There they are!

So, it looks like Kelly will have bangs for now. Clint's not too happy- he wanted to leave them alone, but he's not the one at home with her, re-clipping her hair all day long! When he came home from work tonight and saw her, he said the bangs make her look like a boy. (The rest of her hair wasn't up.) Oh, I felt sick when he said that! I hope he's not right, but now I'm looking at her with her bangs and thinking, "Oh no! He's right. She does look like a boy! What have I done??"
So- thanks a lot, Daddy!
I remember when I was six years old, my mom gave me the shortest haircut, and everyone thought I was a boy! It was so embarrassing. So we got my ears pierced! LOL. But there's no way I'm piercing Kelly's ears- I just hope Clint's wrong about the boy look.
Oh well- we can grow them out when she's a little older and able to leave her hair clips alone!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Kelly Says "Hi"

Last week, Camryn taught Kelly to say "hi!"

Okay, so I know saying "hi" isn't exactly impressive, but Kelly has not been one to even attempt to say much, so "hi" is a milestone!

Even though Kelly hasn't been eager to talk much yet, I have no doubt she's a smart little cookie. Caleb was a late talker, but he's proven to be quite an intelligent dude, so I know it has nothing to do with her intellect.

But while I'm on the subject, can I just say- why must people always ask "Is she talking yet?" and then look at me puzzled when I answer no. I then explain that all she heard for the first 13 months of her life was Cantonese, and now, all of the sudden, she's hearing a completely different language, so of course she's going to be delayed in her speech, especially when compared to a baby who's been hearing English spoken to them since day one.

I know people mean well, but I faced this with Caleb when he was late to talk, where people kept asking why he wasn't talking yet, as if something must be wrong with him, so I think I've grown a little intolerant of people who seem like they always have to size up whether or not your children are developing at a proper rate. I think every child is different, and Kelly will talk when she's good and ready to talk, simple as that!

Okay, so now you got to see my feisty side a bit! Back to the subject at hand: While Kelly hasn't spoken much intelligible language yet, she has started to talk baby gibberish, and it's sooo adorable. We had been trying to get her to say "hi" in this clip, but when she started talking her little gibber-jabber, I was so thrilled because it's been very hard to catch on camera. I hope you can hear it. Unfortunately, the audio isn't the best.

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Years

I forgot to say it in my last post, but Happy New Year!
My poor little Kelly got a fever for New Years. It was her first fever since she's been home. It was actually New Year's Eve when she came down with it. I called our pediatrician's office but they were closed, so I had to take her to a walk-in clinic. I was dreading it, not knowing how long the wait might be, but it was the nicest, most efficiently run walk-in clinic I have ever been to! Everyone was really friendly, and we were in and out of there, new patient paperwork and all, in 30 minutes!
It turns out, Kelly had an ear infection. She had been fighting a nasty cold for over two weeks, so I think the congestion from it settled in her ear. The doctor gave me a prescription for Zithromax which only has to be taken once a day for 5 days, so that was great. Within 24 hours, her fever was completely gone and she was feeling much better. But it did manage to slow her down considerably- here she is laying on the couch on New Year's Eve.

My mom and my brother came up New Years Day and stayed through Saturday. It was so nice to see them. I haven't seen my brother since last Christmas. He just graduated from Mississippi State University majoring in Professional Golf Management, so he's finally beginning to live out his dream. He accepted an offer as the Assistant Golf Pro at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee, so we're all really proud of him. My mom has been so supportive of both of us, so she beams to see us both doing so well.
I hated to see them leave yesterday morning, but I was thankful we had a really nice time together.
Here we all are sitting down to breakfast Saturday morning. My brother, Clint, and Caleb were heading out to go golfing. It was Caleb's first time and he really enjoyed it. We hope to get him some clubs and lessons if he continues to show interest.
My mom and Camryn and I went to a few matinees while they were here- such a treat! Other than that, we all just relaxed around the house and visited, played with Kelly, and watched football... or the Backyardigans. LOL

Friday, January 2, 2009


I've intended to share a cool story for quite some time, but due to the typical interruptions of life with a family, I haven't had the time. However, for reasons you'll understand after you read my story, I can't procrastinate sharing it any longer...

Let me back up...

It was late October when I took Kelly to the pumpkin patch with my friend, Tami and her son, Ford. It was a warm October day, and Tami and I were watching Kelly and Ford play in the corn bins when I was approached by a young, attractive woman with a sweet smile. She introduced herself to me as we watched our little ones play. Her name was Angela, and she pointed out her daughter, Skylar, who was nearly one year old at the time, and her husband, Paul, to me. I had noticed Skylar earlier and thought to myself what a beautiful little girl she was.

Angela asked me if Kelly was adopted. I told her we had adopted Kelly from China back in June. She then shared with me that she, too, was in the process of adopting... a little boy from Vietnam who was 9 months old. They would name him Jordan.

She said that they had received word from their agency back in September that travel approval should be coming any day, and they were anxiously awaiting that call to fly away to Vietnam to bring their baby boy home at a moment's notice.
We talked a bit more, then exchanged email addresses and parted ways. About two weeks later, I found that piece of paper in my diaper bag with her email address on it, and I shot Angela an email in which I gave her my blog address.

About two days later, I got an excited email from Angela asking me what neighborhood I lived in. She said as she was looking at some of the pictures on my blog, she noticed a lamp post in my front yard, and she said that she, too, had a lamp post in her front yard! There are only a few neighborhoods in our town with those signature lamp posts, so she wondered if we were neighbors and just didn't know it! So I told her where we lived, and sure enough, she lives on the street perpendicular to my street- we are neighbors! We live about 10 houses from one another- I drive by her house every day!

As I thought about the serendipity of our meeting at that pumpkin patch on the other side of town, and how blessed I felt to have this sweet little family just down the street, I was taken aback. I mean, not only did they have a daughter almost exactly Kelly's age, but how amazing to have a family so close by to share in the blessings and challenges of this unique privilege of having an interracial family with Asian adopted children! I realized it really was a dream come true. There just aren't many families in our community who have adopted internationally, much less from an Asian country, so I really felt so blessed by this "chance encounter." And then, it hit me! Something in my memory sparked, and I realized- I had seen Angela before!

About three years ago, Angela lost her two adorable poodles, and while my dog, Kaya, and I were out rollerblading, we were able to find them! Being a dog owner and lover myself, I remember how wonderful it felt to help a neighbor I didn't even know to find her beloved puppies. It didn't matter if I knew her or not, I felt an instant bond with her in being a dog lover. But who knew, back then, that we would meet again under such different circumstances? Us, having had adopted Kelly- they, having had their daughter, Skylar, and now, adopting their son, Jordan- it was just too amazing!
It looks like we were destined to meet one way or another, and I'm just so thankful we did, and that we're neighbors!

Angela and her husband, Paul, have been waiting ever-so-patiently these past several months to get their travel dates. As we all seem to learn in this international adoption process, things don't always happen as quickly as you'd like them to- but finally, FINALLY, they are heading off to Vietnam to bring their son home!
They leave on Sunday. You can click on the link below to check out her blog for all the details and to follow along on their journey to bring their son Jordan home.

Here is a picture of Kelly at the pumpkin patch with Skylar in the background. I cropped it below so you can see her better.

This little cutie in the white sweater is Sklyar.

Check out Angela's blog and leave her a comment if you'd like! I want her to know what a wonderful Adoption Support Community we have here on the World Wide Web! You guys are the best!