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How’s Everyone Adjusting?

3 October 2018

If you ask me this question in person I can’t say what kind of answer you will get.

I might smile and say something like, “We’re actually doing really well. Better than we had any right to expect.” And I would mean it, because we’re having a good day and I remember that things could very easily be much worse.



I might sigh and say something about having good days and bad days, and then try to laugh it off and change the subject. Or laugh it off and enforce an awkward silence until you either change the subject or ask a more specific question because my brain is fried. And I would mean it, because we really are having good days—when the boys play together and I get work done and homeschooling is super cool and Timothy comes home after a good, full day of work and I know what dinner is going to be—and bad days—when one boy doesn’t want the other one to look at him and road construction messes up our entire neighborhood and a medical appointment goes badly so I get yet another referral to yet another pediatric specialist and nap time is tearful and I get punched in the eye and potty training is still very much in progress and homeschooling is purgatory and I get very little work done and don’t know what I’m doing for dinner. (That’s not a random list from the past three weeks; that was yesterday.)

I might just cry.

So here are some actual updates.


He’s stellar. It really is a miracle.

We’ve been praying for him for over a year now, and God has heard.



There is grieving and sorrow and loss. It happens mostly at bedtime, and sometimes at nap time. We hold him (and it’s a miracle that he lets us hold him) and kiss him and whisper promises and prayers until it passes. The truth is, he will always have some sorrow and he will always hold that loss somewhere in his heart. But it will not overpower him and it will not define him.

There are also some insecurities and some trauma we are discovering and dealing with, which we expected. Food insecurity is a big one, and that’s okay. It will take time for him to feel confident and secure in the fact that he does not need to fight for food, so we just plan for longer meal times and always bring snacks.

He adores his big brother, and he seems to like Ba and me as well, so it’s easy to think we can deal with the rest.


All things considered—and I have to constantly remind myself to consider all the things—Niah is doing well too. It is hard to do what he is doing. 

He has been an only child for five-and-a-half years. He hasn’t really had to share his toys, or his space, or his parents with anyone. Ever.

Now, not only is he a big brother, he’s a big brother to a kid 18 months younger than him. There was no cute baby stage, when all the little brother took up was time and attention. He didn’t get to grow into sharing space and toys. He didn’t get to progressively watch this new personality develop. He was just invaded.

And the intruder doesn’t speak English. He probably understands, but he’s not always inclined to obey the big brother. Niah wanted a brother to play with, and he got one, but there was no way to prepare him for a language barrier. (Also, I think he thought it would be more like having a puppy, but Jude is not so easily trained.)

And he suddenly has this vague responsibility of being “a good example.” Where he might have gotten away with climbing on chairs in a waiting room before, he doesn’t anymore because it incites the little one to mimic. Where his mildly annoying habits may have been tolerated before, they no longer are because now they get amplified x2. He wants to help, as the big brother, but he’s still figuring out how.



No one would be at their best in that situation. I definitely wouldn’t, and I’m trying very hard to remember that.

He loves his little brother and I know he’s trying. But I’d be lying if I said his bad days weren’t sometimes more than I thought I could bear.


Overall he’s good. We saw our normal pediatrician a couple weeks ago, and he checked out.

Then there’s his primary “special need,” which I have said I probably won’t share here because it’s personal. Our family doctor recommended a pediatric specialist for the condition, and we have an appointment at the end of October.

We also got a letter, very unexpectedly, about another concern that came through his paperwork from China. He is not sick, but because this proverbial black mark is on his medical report, we need to treat him for the general condition anyway so that we can, later—if necessary, demonstrate that it has been thoroughly taken care of. That means medicine and monthly medical appointments for nine months.



Finally, we went to the dentist yesterday for what was going to be a routine cleaning and checkup … mais non. His molars, it turns out, are not in great shape. “Deteriorated” was the word she used. (Also, he does not want his face x-rayed, which is understandable but not super helpful.) So we got get another recommendation to another pediatric specialist.

And in the midst of all of it, my insurance company is being slow about the requirements for getting him added to my insurance. I won’t bore you with the details, but trust me when I say it’s super lame.


He did not learn any English in China. We were his first English.

He understands more than he speaks, which I think is partly because learning a new language is a big job and partly just because he’s more the strong silent type. Even in China he wouldn’t talk to the doctor or the hotel bellhop who tried engaging him in Mandarin. He’s just not a talker.



But he does understand very well. I generally talk to him like I would talk to any four-year-old, and if he stares blankly I then start gesturing and demonstrating. But it usually doesn’t get that far. I’ve asked him to do several specific things that I did not expect him to understand, only to watch him immediately comply.

We’re also using some of the baby ASL that we used with the first one, which is helpful. He’s got “more” and “eat” down, which is no great surprise. He’s also pro at, “done.”

He has been getting braver about trying to copy things we’re saying these past few days – especially mimicking the big brother. He has been heard to say a few English words on his own as well. He figured out, “uh-oh” with a quickness. He uses, “no” on occasion. He’s also used “eat” and “love you.”

And he uses Chinese words and phrases that we all know and use. He calls us, “mama” and “ba.” He has said, “qing” (please), “xie xie” (thank you), “ai ni” (love you), and “shui” (water).

But mostly he points and grunts. He has pretty well-defined noises and tones for yes/no and for a question/request.


For sleeping, (1) because he wasn’t nighttime potty trained in China and (2) because regression happens. Both are totally normal and okay.

And also because Western toilets are weird when you’ve been trained, and spent all your intimate moments, with a squatty potty. Just one more thing the poor kid has to deal with.




It’s super humbling that people still ask this. It feels like the adoption is “over” in a lot of ways—although, of course, it’s totally not—so I didn’t expect that we’d be on anyone’s radar really. Except wanting to meet/see him. (And I don’t blame you. He’s so. Stinking. Sweet.)

But he really doesn’t need much. The boys are sharing a room and it’s already flush with toys. (I’m constantly inventing new excuses to recycle/donate toys.)

He has clothes for now, and we’re taking that day-by-day in so many ways anyway. Because it’s autumn in Chicagoland, so it’s 60 degrees one day and 80 the next. Because when he came home he fit in 2T jeans, but now that he’s been eating balanced meals for three weeks they’re already too short. And because in the next year or so we’ll be in a rhythm of hand-me-downs. So I hardly know what to buy now and we don’t need to stock up for the future.


We do need this.

  • We’re still praying for healing. He’s had initial check ups here in the states that have confirmed diagnoses from China and revealed tooth decay, but we haven’t been to the specialists yet. We’re still believing we can show up and be told that everything is actually okay.
  • Patience and grace in all of us. Jude is trying to figure out a lot and his heart is healing in spurts, and it can be frustrating. Niah is dealing with a lot of changes, and that is frustrating. Husband and I are figure out how to parent and be married and hold down jobs in the midst of everyone else’s adjustments, and that is hard.

Thanks, fam. I will continue to say that we covet your prayers—because we do—and I will forever brag on them as the fuel that got us through this whole thing. From our families, to our church family, to our Church family, to our online friends, we 100% would not be here without you all.


11 Comments leave one →
  1. Kassandra permalink
    3 October 2018 3:17 PM

    Praying for you all 🙂
    Miss you all so much! Can’t wait to meet him!


  2. Annemarie permalink
    4 October 2018 5:02 AM

    So thankful for all of the positives. Also thankful for the reminder to keep praying for grace, peace and strength for all of you. And if a practical need does arise, you know where to find me. ❤️

    • Lex permalink*
      8 October 2018 12:30 PM

      Thank you for your prayers … and everything else. 🙂 ❤

  3. Elizabeth Bautista permalink
    4 October 2018 7:34 PM

    I will continue to pray for you guys, I can’t imagine all hardship but how would we appreciate all the joys God graces us with without some hardship 💜 I know God will continue to equip you & Tim w/ everything you need and that he will also equip every one of us who cares about you guys w/ extra support for you!

  4. Krystal permalink
    4 October 2018 7:39 PM

    Love y’all and thank you for continuing to share your journey with us. Praying all thet things continue to fall into place.

  5. Michael Ingham permalink
    6 October 2018 8:05 AM

    Thanks for all of this. We are praying fervently for all of the above.

  6. Amber Rodriguez permalink
    7 October 2018 5:22 PM

    Praying for you guys! Each one of you are amazing. 😊😊😊

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