Today, we celebrate six months of having Zoe in our lives. It is hard to believe that it has been six months. It seems she has been part of our family forever! So, here’s a little (okay, it ended up being big) update that has been on my mind for about three months.
Just like all parents, we spent a lot of time picking out a name for each of the girls. (More about Kayleigh in Part Two). Zoe Annaliese was chosen very carefully for our little Ling Ling, which is her Chinese name. Zoe means “Life” and Annaliese means “Graced with God’s bounty.” So, in effect, it reads “a life graced with God’s bounty.” Although I thought about the “life” Zoe would have as an adopted child, I didn’t know at the time we chose her name to what extent it would be so true to her.
For those of you who may not know about the life of an orphan….basically, there would be none. Some orphanages are clean, well-kept, and well managed, and the children are well cared for under the circumstances. Other orphanages are mismanaged, the caretakers are, at best, indifferent and, at worst, abusive and cruel. Resources are minimal in many of the orphanages. Yes, she will be fed – most of the time. Yes, she will be clothed – in hand me downs that may or may not fit. Yes, she will probably receive an education – of sorts - not nearly as much education as a first born and healthy child will receive. Yes, she will receive some medical care – but only what is necessary, and, in some cases, not even that. By the time she turns 14, she will be ineligible for adoption. Her options will be limited, as orphans are not recognized by the government. If she is lucky, she will be able to move to an adult center where she might be able to learn a trade or a skill, but many of those centers are just as bad as the orphanages. If not, she will be on the streets, looking for a way to support herself. You can imagine what ways there are that are available to her. Many orphans end up in the criminal system. So, the “life” of an orphan is not really a “life” at all.
|Gotcha Day, December 2013|
|Gotcha Day, December 2013|
When Zoe was placed in my arms, she was a content child. She didn’t cry; she didn’t even whimper. She hardly grieved the loss of her foster mother or the life she had lived for 2 ½ years. It was almost as if Zoe knew that the life she was gaining was much better than the life she was leaving. At that time, Zoe weighed about 15 pounds at 2 1/2 years of age. She had no muscle tone in her little body. When she was picked up under the arms, she would literally slide out of our hands. She could crawl about a foot or so, and then she would stop. She scooted on her bottom a little to get around. She could barely stand and could barely support her weight. She refused solid food and would only take formula and NOTHING else. She freaked out at bath time – screaming at the top of her lungs – probably because she had rarely had one. Her body odor was quite unique and strong. It took about 3 baths before she started smelling like a clean baby. Her teeth were quite yellow because they had never been brushed, and her breath was horrible. Again, it was several days before that was remedied. The only “playing” she knew how to do was to rub the two little fingers on her right hand across her toys over and over again. She was very quiet and non-verbal. The few noises she did make were guttural sounds. If she had remained in her foster home, this "life" probably would have continued for several more months until someone became concerned enough about her lack of development.
On the flip side of the coin, she was happy. She laughed and giggled. She explored and played with the toys that we carried to China. She entertained herself with whatever she could find in the room to play with. She began scooting more around our little living room to see what was going on. She would let any of us hold her. She slept through the night almost every night we were in China.
|Late December, 2013|
Today……. Oh, my! We have a different child than the one we brought home six months ago. She now weighs about 26 pounds! Yes, I have a little chunk on my hands! She has also grown over an inch in height. Her muscle tone began developing within days of being handed to us. Finally, someone was actually picking her up and holding her! She still doesn’t crawl, nor does she scoot – because she is WALKING all the time, running some of the time, although she still has a ways to go before she will win any races. She eats anything I put in front of her and guzzles whatever I give her to drink. She will feed herself finger foods, and we are making progress with utensils, although she still prefers that we do the feeding in that regard. She has a grand time in the bathtub, and only cries when we wash her hair. Her teeth became relatively white, once we were able to start brushing. It took a long time to get to the point of actually being able to use a toothbrush, but she tolerates it well. She will flit from place to place and room to room, actually playing and exploring. I have to be careful that I don’t let her get out of my sight for too long or there is no telling what I might find when I catch up to her. (for example, perched on the arm of the rocking chair trying to get to the bed in her bedroom! ) She will easily entertain herself and play on her own for long stretches of time. We rarely see her rubbing her fingers across things like she did when she came home. She continues to sleep through the night. She does, however, fight nap time, but once she gives up the fight, she is out like a light. She will still let any of us hold her, but favors Mom and Dad. Her vocabulary is growing very quickly. She will easily say Momma, Daddy, Sissy, Noah, her version of Kayleigh and Zoe, hungry, milk, eat (usually accompanied by whining that I am not getting the food to her plate fast enough), red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, and black (although not always with the appropriate color.) and lots of other words I will not bore you with. Usually, though, it sounds like babble, and I ask her often if she is speaking Chinese. :)
|Early May, 2014|
Her little personality has blossomed. She still laughs and giggles, even at herself. She has a ready smile and will say “cheese” for the camera. She claps for herself whenever she accomplishes something. She also claps at the end of the prayer. (Got to work on the “amen”). She likes to be held and cuddled, and she will raise her arms to be held often, saying “hold me”. She screams in delight when Jeff gets home from work or when one of us comes to pick her up from the nursery. When we tell her not to do something, she gives you “the look” that says, “I hear you, but I’m not going to do what you say.” If she doesn’t want to do something, she will stop where she is and start whining and crying! If she doesn’t get her way, she will do the same. Oh, my…. If Kayleigh asks for a toy that Zoe is holding and Zoe is not ready to give it up, she will very quickly and very adamantly say “NO!” while pulling the toy closer to herself. She says “No”, even when she means “Yes.” If she is in a different room and you call “Zoe!” she will yell back “Whatee?”. :) If she is trying to do something, like climb up on the couch, and she can’t quite do it herself, she will say “I help.” She has two favorite books right now – the Colors book and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, which sounds more like “browbur” when she says it. She likes music and will come running when she hears DJ Shuffle on Disney Junior begin to play. She will also sing “Wheel, roun, roun, beep, beep, beep.” That’s “The wheels on the bus go round and round and the horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep” for those who might have missed the translation. If Jeff is home and she is wherever I am, she will look at me and say, “I Daddy.” So, she will run off to where Jeff is, then she tells him, “I Mommy” and runs back to me. It goes back and forth like this until Jeff and I are in the same room. She will say “Hi” and “Bye Bye” to just about anyone. Recently, I was in Sam’s and Zoe was with me. She began saying “Hi” to anyone she saw. A day later, I was somewhere else and a lady stopped us and asked if we were in Sam’s the day before. She had been the recipient of Zoe’s “Hi”. Zoe learns quickly and imitates us often. When we say something, she will often repeat it right back to us. When I ask her if she wants some juice, she promptly gets up and sits down in the kitchen floor with her back to the cabinet. No, I did not teach her this, but in her preschool, at snack time, the children have to sit on the tile part of the floor. She apparently thinks that is what you have to do when it is snack time. :) I could go on and on about all the things she is doing and learning!
What it all comes down to is that Zoe doesn’t just have “life” – She has “a life graced with God’s bounty”. And our prayer is that one day both she and Kayleigh will come to know the Lord Jesus and have truly abundant life. We are forever grateful to those who had a hand in bringing Zoe home – especially to THE ONE Who placed the desire in our hearts and brought us to the place where Zoe became ours.