Wow, I think. God called us to this? To blue eyes, a sweet heart, a voice that lilts with inquiries, advice, song and laughter all day long? To opening our inner doors to this beauty and privilege? And you (readers, supporters, friends, family) were given the opportunity to help bring this sweet little one home – and you answered. With prayers, gifts, emails, phone calls, meals….so much! We had great support in making and selling necklace pendants and in acquiring items for our garage sales! A Bible study in TX rallied together and committed to pray for our family. People we didn’t know prayed and listened intently to our story – at garage sales, concerts and around dinner tables. One group of college students sent us a Visa gift card that we were able to use toward traveling expenses. Friends whose hearts beat passionately for the lost and forgotten have blessed us beyond belief by joining us in approaching the heart of God on matters of the fatherless. From the moment we felt God calling us to step foot on this path less taken, He has seen to it that we have not stumbled by supplying amply at every turn.
There is no fear on the path less taken….only in those moments before the first step is taken. We have not been alone. We did not and could not have managed this adoption on our own. There was a call. And we all answered together. Thank you. And to those who are considering a step in the less-taken direction: Immeasurable are the blessings! Unimaginable is the growth!
Zoe is doing great at fitting in around here. Our youngest, Jet, had the most noticeable issues with adding a new sister that is almost exactly his height and weight (although Zoe does weigh less) who was competition for his mommy-daddy time. But now, not even two months after being home, it seems he’s glad for the companionship of someone who is learning words and behaviors right along with him. Zoe has helped motivate Jet to potty train, and she is less lonely when they are co-piloting the bathroom. It’s a win-win! I’m grateful that the two “little ones”, as we say, can entertain each other while I do lessons with the older kids. And while the littles are napping, I get quality time with my older two. All three of us enjoy the break!
We have room in our house for our kids to sleep separately, but they each one generally refuse the option. They love sleeping together – they say that sleeping alone makes them feel lonely and afraid. We were planning for Zoya and Hattie to share a bed, but sweetheart Nash nudges his way in there, too, and on a very rare occasion, Jet will beg to be free of his crib and flanked by sibling slumber. What can I say? They are a very tight group and love to be together. And I love being with kids who love being together!
Zoe (or Zoya, as we also say) is the addition of a pleasant presence in our house. She is kind, obedient and has a great sense of humor! She is lightning-fast at watching the other kids and us and intuitively picking up what to do. And they learn from her as well.
And…she LOVES food! She is what the grandma’s call a “great eater”. She can eat her weight in mashed potatoes, applesauce, yogurt or bananas and can artfully scoop vegetable soup while avoiding some of her unfavorite vegetables. Sometimes she will do a little fake cry if she sees me fixing food at meal time and thinks I’m holding back on her. But, wow, how far we’ve come. She doesn’t protect her bowl like she once did and she will ask for “more, please” with signs. She softly lifts and lowers her plate and bowl (no more throwing!…okay, well, almost no more throwing) and has learned that her napkin can stay by her at the table. She will drink (chocolate) milk now, too! Her food repertoire is growing every day. It’s funny to watch her turn down things that she has never seen before judging by appearance – things that we know to be irresistibly delicious, like pie or candy, just because she has no reference. She will completely refuse and, giggling, we’ll shove a little bite in her mouth. Her ‘no’ changes to an “Oh…I see…” kind of a face as she reaches for more.
Zoe has a great laugh! At the orphanage when we first tried to tickle her to make her laugh, she just kind of looked at us, like “Huh?” Well, boy, does she have it down now! She loves being tickled until she is laughing uncontrollably. Loves riding piggy-back, doing skin-the-cats, being spun around, danced with and carried around all kinds of silly ways.
Above, she is learning about play dough for the first time. I never grow tired of being there for some of her firsts. First car ride (maybe), first time watching somebody cook a meal in a kitchen. First time using a fork. First time walking in snow. First time drinking out of a sippy cup and straw. First time being strapped in a car seat. First time eating McDonald’s. First time being able to take a long bubble bath. First time using lotion. First time opening a present. First time having her back scratched or being held for a long time with no other reason than just being cuddled. How can I tell that she is doing these things for the first time? I can tell from her reaction! Screaming at snow, rubbing a fork across her lips just to see what it feels like (after attempting to comb her hair with it), licking at a sippy cup and just those wide-eyed strange stares and giggles. First time jumping! We’ve had to practice that one a lot. First time eating pizza or a bread stick or blueberries. First time praying while being tucked in at bedtime. We LOVE the firsts!
Zoe loves to help out! And she loves to clean up! She can keep herself busy for a long time with just a wet paper towel to go over surfaces and clean up. If she sees me putting things away, she’ll pitch in immediately and ask me where things go. I can tell that she’s helped pick up toys and cleaned floors before!
And Zoe, like any girl, loves shoes. She loves to try on everyone’s shoes and walk around the house in them, but you can clearly see that she can devise her own fashion footwear…no tools necessary!
First time making sugar cookies at Christmas!
Once we were rested from traveling, we really packed in the fun times before Christmas! We cut down and decorated our tree, made cookies, went to the dentist and visited the Children’s Museum and the Rhythm Percussion Center in Indy with friends.
Here is a video of the kids at the Children’s Museum being penguins:
And here is a bit from the Percussion Museum where Zoe is testing out a handmade xylophone:
Those first weeks weren’t “life as normal” around here. Zoe entered into the Pre-Christmas Prep and Post-Travel Re-Organization Sequence when there was a lot of warm welcomes and catching up. In a place where most words and sights were unintelligible to her reference library and native vocabulary, the girl did stellar in dealing with it all and held her sparkle and shine through a flood of new senses, faces and feelings. Strong-hearted Zoe.