Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Time sure flies!!! 5 months alraeady? wow!

Well we have been home for a few months now...actually 5 months and that seems crazy to me!!! It has been super busy being a mom to 6 children and it most certainly does not lend itself to much blogging hahah. But I am going to try!  The last 5 months have been wonderful as far as Emma and Elias go. The two of them have had some pretty amazing transitions. Does that mean every single day we sit around and hold hands and sing Kumbaya and that all is perfect in the Worrell household .. umm no.. we have had some normal transitional stuff but truly as far as Emma and Elias go they have been pretty darn easy.

After my last blog post I received several emails saying that I do not show the true picture of older child special needs adoption on my blog posts. I am going to try my best, but to be honest for the most part Emma and Elias have transitioned like a dream.. We are well aware that things can change at a drop of a dime but so far all is good! I will start with Elias and work my way to Emma. Elias is still an amazing amazing boy. He came home signing Chinese Sign Language,CSL,  and would only sign Chinese sign language the first 5 weeks home and just snuffed off American Sign Language, ASL,  (makes perfect sense since all he ever knew was CSL.) Then suddenly and almost overnight Elias stopped signing in CSL and made the most amazing switch to ASL. It was kind of crazy to watch. It shows just how much he was taking in while we were signing at home and how much he was retaining even though he was not using one sign of ASL. I must tell you that while in China I did have the privilege of meeting a two amazing Deaf woman that knew both ASL and CSL and I had a chance to pick their brains and learn as much CSL as I could possibly hold while I was there, they also introduced us to a Deaf Chinese couple so we had a chance to meet them and also learn more CSL and about the Deaf Chinese culture. This was a HUGE help in bridging the communication gap that we had with Elias and I know the fact that I worked so hard to learn as much CSL as I could helped as Elias saw how hard I was working and that I was willing to make mistakes with CSL and wasnt perfect at it so it allowed Elias the ability trust me and helped Elias switch over. Once he started to switch over he would teach me CSL and I would show him ASL it was a beautiful transition from that point on. Elias has not signed one CSL sign in many months.... he signs beautiful natural ASL at home.  The fact that his dad is Deaf, Mom is a sign language interpreter and he has 2 Deaf siblings and the all of his hearing siblings sign is not lost on us, we are well aware that we have a great household for a Deaf child to thrive in and thrive our babies are!!!! Elias is charming, sweet, caring, funny, smart as a whip, cute, silly, athletic, and cuddly and a HUGE momma's boy! He is a hard worker and wants to always do his best. He spends hours a day working on his school work and is always trying to do extra work. He is truly a joy and I adore spending time with him and watching him spend time with his siblings and watching him learn the ins and outs of a family.

We were not able to agree with our school district on placement for both Elias and Emma so after many months of fighting and struggling Tom and I made the decision to homeschool for the rest of the  2012-2013 school year. NOT our optimal decision and we have had many moments of not being happy with our decision to homeschool, but it is what we had to do. Don't get me wrong Elias and Emma both worked hard at home and are learning a great deal, BUT Elias was in a school for the Deaf in China and always around a ton of kids and then suddenly here he was home every single day with just him and Emma during school hours until his siblings came home. Believe it or not with having 6 kids Elias still gets lonely. He wants more than anything to go to school , he wants to learn and be successful and he wants friends so badly he can taste it! Kind of scary to think a child can be lonely with 5 other brothers and sisters in the house but Elias is ready to learn and have his friends along with a family. He is a smart boy with loads of great qualities and I know he will make friends for sure.  Homeschooling in the beginning was so hard with the language barrier that my hubby and I almost quit. Here we are a Deaf man and an educational sign language interpreter and we struggled like crazy to get our two kids to understand and learn anything. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. They are on two totally different levels and Elias did learn a ton of stuff in China, but he learned it in Chinese and now here he was learning it over again in ASL...just that is tough and then throw in that he could not read any English and life got interesting. Then you add in Emma who had no language or education and it was a recipe for some hair pulling on our part. I cried, the kids cried, hubby busted some major sweat.. but we managed to work through the initial part and get things rolling semi smooth before momma's leave was over and I had to go back to work leaving hubby to tackle the homeschooling on his own. I will say one thing this was the HARDEST thing we ever did, but it was not without its rewards. It certainly makes me want to give all the Deaf ed teachers I know a huge gift of some sort. It also makes me wonder how the requirements for becoming a teacher of the deaf in many places only requires 2- 3 sign language classes, I have always thought that was absurd to be able to teach Deaf kiddos and not be fluent in ASL... but I now see clearly that you have to be more than fluent in ASL....... you have to know how to manipulate ASL and think of many ways to say the same thing over and over but with more clarity and more visuality each time and you have to be creative in how you present things in ASL.  If we were not at the place where we are with our language (a native born Deaf ASL user and a fluent in ASL interpreter with 13 years of  interpreting ASL under my belt) there is NO way we would have been able to do what we did. Even with all the language and experience we have it was back breaking and required so much thinking outside of the box that I am pretty sure we re-invented the box! We did manage to get things going pretty smoothly but Tom and I still do not think it was the healthiest of decisions for Emma and Elias. They both spent a lot of time crying they want to go to school to learn and that they wanted friends. They both developed little habits and traits during this time home that I feel would not have developed if they had gone to school and been with other Deaf peers as we had hoped would happen.  Truly the hardest part of adopting our 3 Deaf kiddos has been the educational fight. It is beyond frustrating and makes you crazy when you fight your school district and they just dont seem to get at all what our kids need (or care about what our kids need to be honest). Sometimes I know they have a glimpse of what our kids need, but money always becomes a factor and they kids end up not getting what they need. One thing I didnt like about homeschooling is that Emma and Elias were missing out on all the social aspects of school that are so important in a child's development.... We are working on trying to find a solution for next school year. Right now we are still praying and researching and trying to see what our options are.

As far as other issues with bringing home Emma and Elias I would say we have so far experienced nothing more than dealing with normal orphan behaviors, habits and rituals that we expect to deal with adopting two older children that spent many years of their lives in an orphanage. Yes, the behaviors sometimes ride on your nerves and make us nuts... of course we are human so the constant stalking of us times 3 kids gets annoying..  having 3 kids that have not one clue how to entertain themselves can get upsetting sometimes... having 3 kids that don't socially know how to behave in regular social settings can wear you out.. BUT we expected all of that and know it comes with adoption and especially adoption of older kiddos, then you make it older deaf kiddos ,2 of which had no language or education and one that had a different language and education but also had a very late start at that... we would be crazy to not expect some issues.

Now let me get to Emma. Little Miss Emma. She is a hoot!!! The girl cracks me up. She is sweet, funny, darling, silly and caring, She is a good friend and sister and a great daughter. Emma had pretty much no language or education when we met her. She was soaking up language like a sponge in the beginning (actually she seemed to understand more than Elias when we very first met them both, since Elias was dealing with a language that he did not recognize and Emma had no language so she just soaked it up.)  then at one point about 5 or 6 weeks ago she seemed to stop learning and stop signing and everything you asked her you got a nod and that was it.... this was not the Emma we had seen for months, we thought oh my there is something so wrong with her. Then all of a sudden the last week to 2 weeks her language has made a HUGE jump, she is signing and understanding things that Tom and I just stare at each other in amazement when she signs sometimes.  Like just yesterday she was signing to Tom and I and her ASL was so beautiful and her sentence structure was pretty complex that we just could not believe it was coming off of Emma's hands she should not at 5 months of language in her life be signing like she is.. ...  truly mind blowing to see!!!

The last 5 months have been full of many firsts in our house for Emma and Elias.  The obvious biggie is First time having a family of their own! First time to have Grandparents, Aunts Uncles, Cousins an actual family! First time having their own things, their own clothing, room (they both share a room with a sibling but the room is theirs), first time having their own toys, first time with many many many new foods, first time with a dog, first time eating ice cream, first time riding a bicycle and for Elias that meant with and without training wheels and he basically taught himself to ride and I helped a tiny bit and he was done with the training wheels in less than a matter of a few hours!, first time going on an outing (nope orphans do not get to go to wawa, go the mall, go anywhere for that matter.. so any time you get in the car is pure exciting for them.. even if it is to go to Home Depot with daddy.)first time for the tooth-fairy to come, to celebrate Holidays with your family, First time to learn that their is a God and that He loves you!,  first time seeing a sign language interpreter, first time going to church, first time to go to VBS, first time going to a picnic, going in a sandbox, getting your nails painted, going to the dentist,  first time swimming in a pool (a huge favorite now amongst the two of them or swimming in anything for that matter), first time to have someone tell you that you are smart ( for Elias this was after many years of being told "you are dumb and worth nothing"), first time to have someone tell you that you are cute, beautiful or handsome, first time to celebrate family birthdays, first time to see a sibling graduate from elementary school, first time to get to say "mommy and daddy", first time to have someone say "I love you", first time to actually understand and get what "I love you" means(this did not happen for awhile after we started saying I love you) AND just two days ago for Elias...a big one.. first time to understand that he is now an American Citizen, A "Worrell" and a member of this family and he is NOT in no way no how going to be sent back to China and that he is staying here in America that was a BIG FIRST and it received a HUGE hug and 2 massive thumbs up coupled with a few tears of relief that he is not getting sent back.. when he finally understood that two days ago!!! For Emma a BIG FIRST as well, it was the first time in her life to have language and education and therefore have the ability to communicate her needs, wants, desires and to be able to start to understand this amazing new world around her!!! there were many many more firsts and too many to list them all but so many have happened in the last 5 months.

Emma's first time in the sandbox with her sister Paige

Playing dress up with their dolls

Me and Tommy at his 5th grade graduation

My 6 beautiful children at Tommys graduation

3 smiling gorgeous faces

Luke and Elias

Elias first time swimming!

Emma getting ready for her first time swimming

Yup 5 amazing months

                                                        All 6 of my kiddos with momma!

I am very happy with the last 5 months and how we are all bonding together and how things are working out with us going from a family of 6 to a family of 8! Emma and Elias are still doing amazing and things are going beautifully! Here is to another amazing 5 months, 5 years, a lifetime of memories together as a family!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

My morning thoughts on adoption!

I was looking at this sweet beautiful face this morning as she came in and signed "mom pain still?" I signed "yes still" she lifted her hands and signed "God help moms pain fade away, Amen". Then leaned over and planted kisses on my lips, hands and face and signed ILY with our hands entwined together. I look upon the beautiful little face of this precious little girl who on Jan 24, 2013 stepped into a room,  not knowing what stepping into this room meant for her life, and we met for the first time that day she had no language and was bruised to pieces. I look at her now and tears flow down my face. She is a beautiful, sweet, caring, loving, smart, funny, goofy, silly, friendly, and charming little girl.  She is also learning rapidly and she is such a very enthusiastic little girl. Her past was beyond rough, more than a 6 year old should ever endure in their life time. The fact that a mother in China chose to give her life and give her away is not lost on me. We always say we are blessed by adoption, and many people tell me how beautiful adoption is, but when I look at all 3 of my adopted children and all they have been through: pain, suffering, abuse (all forms), neglect, abandonment, hunger, loneliness and fear.... is that beautiful?  Now you add the trauma of starting over in a country so foreign it is almost alien, with people who are complete strangers and look nothing like you or anyone else you have ever seen in your lifetime and now they have control over your life... there is nothing beautiful about what they have experienced in their lives. But God promises: "to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of The Lord for the display of his splendor." These promises don't happen over night, there is a lot of work and love, time and patience involved. There are times of struggle, anger, pain, and for us the "oh my word what did we do moments..," and then there are moments like today where I look upon this little face and the tears flow and i know that I know that we are watching the beauty from ashes. This face this morning is a definite display of His splendor! I love this little face tremendously! For those of you adopting or thinking about adopting or who have already adopted, hang in there the beauty does come. Adoption is NOT easy, but it is SO worth it!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

3 amazing months home!

WOW where did the time go? OH I know... spending it with my 6 children! That is where it went! I cannot believe it has been 3 months since we landed in America with Emma and Elias. Our two beautiful treasures. Emma with almost no language and Elias fluent in Chinese languages... Well 3 amazing months later and Emma is signing away like no one would believe. She understands just about anything you say to her. I love love love watching her have conversations with her brothers and sister, it is outstanding to watch the communication grow daily in the house! Emma is one smart cookie and a sweet cookie too! Her transition thus far has been pretty flawless. She is pretty much a go with the flow kiddo. It has been so incredible to watch her be able to start to become her "own" person. Since she had no language she tends to be a follower.. and I mean of everything.. If her sister sits, Emma sits.. her sister stands on her head.. Emma must attempt to stand on her head hahah. She is finally starting to emerge as her own person.. we are not fully there, but she is starting to. Her grasp of American Sign Language continues to grow at a very rapid rate and she is impressing us daily! Emma and Paige have a relationship that is just beyond incredible! They love each other so much! (of course they have moments of annoying each other.. they are sisters after all :) truly they enjoy playing for hours and hours and hours together! I love looking in their room and seeing them sitting there signing away to each other and playing so beautifully together! They have a bond that will carry them far in life! Emma gets along with everyone in the house and is just very easy to get along with. She is friendly, outgoing, smart and funny! She is a love bug and loved by all!

Do you want to see what 3 months and the love of a family did for Emma? Let me show you! :

Our last picture of our sweet Emma before we left to bring her home.. So sad...

Our sweetie pie waiting for her family!

Me signing papers saying we were taking Emma with us and Emma playing with her toys!
That sweet little face and those eyes that scream "I am so brilliant.. I just dont have the language to show you yet" just sucked me in!

Just took a few minutes to see a smile emerge

Our first family picture (can you imagine how stressful it must be to be put in the arms of strangers?)

The smiles started to emerge quickly when we got to our room

She is just so beautiful

Asking daddy to show her some sign language

The first of MANY goofy Emma faces

Oh yea baby!

This is how she handled her first flight of her life just 24 hours after meeting her parents! (yup this is how Emma rolls!)

Her sweetness just keeps on keeping on

The little Diva emerges

Exhausted after MANY hours of travel but the Two newest American Citizens! :)

Paige and Emma just seconds after meeting each other

Their first night together!

Their second night together!! :)) ahh SISTERS!

5 of my babies together!

ALL 6 of my gorgeous babies!

Paige and Emma in their dresses from China

The gang! All very happy to be together!

Yup still happy bed partners!

Sister kisses! There is nothing like them!

Typical Emma

The girls playing dress up together

Photos Aaron took of the kiddos after they came home

Trying on my brother Tommys football equipment!

My beautiful girls

Paige and Emma

My gorgeous princess!

I took this to prove to her that her hair really is growing!

Love that little face

My silly girls pretending to be babies

Me and my girl

My and my girls having our nightly reading time together!

YUP they are STILL bedtime pals! :) Love these girls

Paige showing off her lack of teeth to Emma

They were cracking each other up

They still love having "sleepovers" in each others beds.. (they beds are probably only 5 feet apart but there is nothing like snuggling with your sister!)

What can I say.. Long awaited for SISTERS!

Our precious Emma has changed SO much in 3 months!!!!    

And now for our Elias! Whew there is SO much to say about Elias I dont know where to start. Elias is one of the sweetest boys ever. He is truly a great and amazing kid! He is so easy to be with and just a joy to be around! Elias gets along with everyone! He is fun, funny, sweet, silly, his laugh is SO contagious and he is ALWAYS laughing! I can barely play sports with him because he laughs so hard the whole time that I get so caught up in his laughing that I cant beat him hahah ( I think it is his secret weapon hahah) Elias was fluent in Chinese sign language when we met him and he could read and write very well in Chinese.  Within about a 5 week span Elias stopped using Chinese sign language and has been signing completely in American Sign language. We personally think it is crazy that he picked up ASL so fast and dropped his native language so quickly. One looking from the outside in on our family today would not be able to pick out the new signer in the house.. Elias already looks like a native ASL user.. Geesh he has only been home 3 months today.. I could NEVER become fluent in another language in 3 months time....One thing that Elias has shown us over and over again is that he is just brilliant! He is so smart that Tom and I just cannot believe it. Elias had no language until he was 7 years old and only had 2 years at the school for the Deaf. He had just started 3rd grade when we brought him home and he is currently not in school. YET he is now starting read in English, is doing math on a solid 4th grade and some 5th grade level, he learns things faster than Tom and I can teach him. Elias is inquisitive and a work horse. The boy LOVES to learn! Elias is also naturally very athletic! He is a blast to play sports with and learns so fast, and not just sorta of how to play he picks up the rules and all the nuances of a game very fast. We spend hours outside playing basketball, soccer and football. He is going to be on some sports teams in the future for sure!

Do you want to see what 3 months and the love of a family did for Elias? I will show you! :

Our very first glimpse of our sweet sweet boy starting his journey

Trying to show him some things in his backpack since he was crying, sad and scared beyond words

His face clearly shows you the stress and emotions that an older child goes through during this process

Elias being handed over by the orphanage worker

Our first picture together as a family

Emma is so smart she got out the DS and handed it to him.. it helped a ton!

Brother and Sister playing their games together

snuggled up and ready for his first night of sleep with his new family

back to the adoption center to fill out paperworl

Elias and Daddy

Me and Emma and Elias

Daddy playing puzzles with his kiddos

Daddy took Elias out to play some football!

I think the football helped with bonding.. what do you think? ;)

Getting ready to feed the lions some raw meat!

Elias and the Pandas

sneaking a hug with my boy (he wasnt too fond of hugging just yet)

all tired out from HOURS of travel but now American Citizens

Elias with his new brothers and sisters!

All 6 of the kiddos together

Elias and his daddy!

Tommy and Elias became fast buds!

Elias is sooo funny and goofy.. he cracks Paige up!

Elias and Luke have an amazing bond!

Tommy helping Elias try on his football equipment!

I think he liked trying it on.. maybe.. hahah HE LOVED IT!

oh my this stuff is SO not comfortable hahah

Joe cool!


Tommy and Elias spend HOURS playing basketball together

as you can see they enjoy themselves

Look at that smile

Me and my goofy boys smooshed in my bed

My handsome Elias.. he is growing and changing daily

just gorgeous inside and out

yup I am a goofball.. ;)

but look at that face

Me and my newest mommas boy!

Tommy and Elias "twins" playing B. Ball

I love this one


Tommy and Elias.. buddies through and through

Elias decided to teach himself how to ride a bike without training wheels

Love that smile

He loves to snuggle with his momma

and he loves to wrestle with his daddy

Elias and Luke love playing together     

As you can see we have had an amazing 3 months and God has been so good to us! We have brought home two beautiful children that have melded into our family seamlessly! We were ready for the worst and ready for some crazy rocky roads.. so far this has been a dream! We would never imagine we could add two older children, out of birth order, one with no language and one with a different language into our family and all would just gel.. but it did! We are blessed with 6 beautiful children. We must say that our 4 kiddos really embraced their new brother and sister in a way we didnt expect, our 4 kiddos have such huge hearts and are so giving and loving. We could not ask for more from them. They have welcomed Emma and Elias into our home and have just all clicked together like they were made for each other! We know that we are blessed! Thank you Lord for our beautiful family! :))))))))))))))))))))))))