Tuesday, May 15, 2018

And Now It's Time to Rest

"We don't need another cat. So don't feed those cats anything." Those were the words uttered by my husband on a beautiful late Spring day on Cape Hatteras in 2007 when I pointed out a mama cat and her litter of four orange tiger kittens in our back yard. I promptly ignored him, fed the cats so they would stick around and I could get to know them and decide which one (or two) would be mine.

The next afternoon, another island stray, a big male, a bully, came through our yard and started picking on the kittens. I can't stand a bully, be it man or beast. I ran outside and without thinking, picked up this completely wild, orange kitten that was around 4 months old. The kitten had probably never been that close to a person before, let alone been held. He immediately relaxed, looked me in the face and chirped at me. I scared off the bully cat, carried the kitten to my porch and fed him until he couldn't walk. I noticed he was a polydactyl. I noticed he was very handsome. I also noticed that he was friendly and verbal. My husband was doomed.

I tried to get the other kittens as well but they weren't interested. A few days later, they did come back and another kitten went home with my friend Lynnette, but that is another story.

This kitten still had to audition for my husband and man, did he out on a show! Flopping at his feet, chirping and burbling. Winding around his legs. Making a general scene. There was no resistance. We picked him up and brought him in the house in less than two minutes. He looked around the house, jumped up on the couch and fell asleep for 13 straight hours- he knew he was home. He didn't even sniff around. While he was sleeping we decided to name him Billy Bones and he was a descendant of the shipwrecked pirate cats on the island and he should have a good pirate name.

I knew almost instantly that he was going to be a "cat among cats". He had personality plus! He was into everything, all of the time. He was right in the middle of everything that was happening, he did not want to be left out of anything. At the same time, he was patient and good natured, he let little Evelyn do anything she wanted to him, I can not tell you how many times, she was his "patient" as she played Doctor or Vet. 

And so began many, many years of life with Billy Bones. One adventure after the next. He became my cat really. I was his person, though he loved us all and had a special kind of relationship with everyone in the family. For instance, he only would nose boop with Papa, he only tolerates head kisses from Ev, he likes to be lounging on me or touching me at all times. If we are playing board games, he has to be on the table with us. He is a hunter and a killer, in one day he killed and  ate 3 rabbits (that is a record). He has hunted and eaten: rabbits, squirrels, birds, lizards, snakes, moles, voles and skinks. having a party? he will right out in the middle of things. Trying to sleep? He wants to be right on your face. He would talk to you, using this cross between a meow and a chirp.  He once cleared an entire neighborhood of the vole/mole problem! No kidding- our neighbors were delivering us plates of cookies in thanks because Billy was such a big help to them. He knew when you were sick and he would lay by you and offer you comfort. He once walked though wet paint and tracked that all though the house! Nothing on any mantle was ever safe from him. 

He loved to be outside but HATED for his 23 toes to get snow or water in them. He loved to be on the hunt or to have some poor live creature to be stalking. He loved to snuggle on the fuzzy brown blanket at night on your lap while you watched tv. He loved to try and eat your yarn while you crocheted. He had the softest, silkiest fur that he was completely vain about. His tail had a mind of its own- he could be sound asleep and you could call his name and that tail would nearly swish off of his body. 

Then one day, I noticed a lump on his left back leg. It turned out to be a very rare thing. A Vaccine Induced Fibrocarcoma. A nasty, aggressive cancer that has a poor prognosis. We decided to keep him as happy and as comfortable as we could, for as long as we could. That's what we did. We loved our little cat, beyond comprehension. He filled our lives to the absolute brim with fun, joy, love and life. I am not sure I will ever meet another cat like Billy Bones. Today we realized that he had fought long enough. That it was time to let him rest. He had given all he could, he had chased his last rabbit. 
He left this world purring, wrapped in his fuzzy brown blanket and surrounded by the people that loved him most. We are shattered and heartbroken but, in time we will come to realize that beyond this loss we have been given a most precious gift- the friendship and love of a most extraodinary cat. 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Changing Definitions

We were watching  the new Netflix series, Lost in Space, the other night. The five of us all lounging about on various soft surfaces, some of us covered in blankets, some not. Four of us are human, one feline. The title of the show was "Eulogy" and the daughter piped up and asked us what a eulogy was.
We gave her the definition: a speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly, typically someone who has just died.
The feline snuggled in so comfortably on my lap for the evening's viewing happens to be a very valued member of this little society. He also happens to be dying of cancer. He is fading fast and soon he will leave the realm of our little world and join the larger cosmos where he can chase baby rabbits and lizards until his heart's delight. For now, however, he is tired and waning and we spend every moment we can making sure that he is assured of his supreme position in the hierarchy of this family.
Why should we wait until someone dies before we decide it is time to pronounce aloud, for the world to hear all of the things that we love about them, the things that we admire, the things that make them special? Maybe we can start changing the very definition of the word eulogy itself to mean something a little different, something that reminds us to cherish those around us just a little bit more, to be a bit kinder, to have a little more patience, to touch more softly, speak more gently and to sit on the couch just a few minutes longer and listen to that precious rattling purr.

Friday, March 16, 2018

A Status Update Is In Order

Things around here are happening. Lots of things. Too many things. Too fast. Sometimes I can't catch my breath. The Coast Guard is moving us from Florida to Michigan, we have to sell a house to get there, we have two kids in two different sports, Les is still on his regular Underway schedule with his Cutter , plus he will need to fly out for a "school"(not a complaint, just a statement of fact as his absences can add to the crazy), Billy Bones has been diagnosed with cancer and is not doing well, two more holidays in Florida before the move, Homeschooling two kids- one in elementary, one in middle-school and, just to keep things fun,  I had a Total Abdominal Hysterectomy in January closely followed by the flu that was coupled with bronchitis and sinusitis.

We were expecting the move but they are still hard. Sometimes you feel like you are just settling in to a location and it is time to pick everything up and move on again. This time we are leaving behind a home that we all truly love, we have friends that we care about and man, do we love the weather in February. We are selling this house too, which adds a whole new level of stress. In all of our previous moves, we rented, so we really didn't have to worry over the timeline as much as we are this move. Also? Why does no one ever talk about what a pain showing your house is during a sale? it's about to kill our family slob (Liam for those of you that couldn't guess). The fact that he actually, really and truly, literally has to keep his room clean causes him physical agony.

Billy Bones our wonderful cat of almost eleven years, was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago. It's a VERY rare kind of cancer that is called a Vaccine Induced Fibrosarcoma. this cancer makes very nasty tumors that grow fast and aggressively along nerve paths. Apparently even for this type of cancer, Billy's is aggressive. Like, it's the Hulk of this kind of thing. At this point he's not doing that great. We can tell that he is in some pain, he is sleeping 16-20 hours a day, or if not sleeping just dozing or laying there as still and quiet as he can. He only eats about once or twice a day. He still walks around the lanai, he still comes out to sit with us. He still burbles and chirps at us, he purrs. But, I am not sure how much more time we have with our little guy.

Liam is in Little League this season again. He loves it this year more than ever. He really has a head for the game and knows where the ball should go, he follows the game well. After tonight's game, he was totally creased that the Ump called him out at home when he KNEW he was safe. It was like a scene out of Bull Durham. Ev is playing Soccer. She just started her season, her first game is this Saturday. She is very excited to have a female Coach that she really likes and she has lots of girls on her team that she knows. I think it will be a fun season for her.

Homeschooling has been a bit hit or miss since my surgery. I have been trying to get us all back on track but some days I feel completely overwhelmed and intimidated. Other days I am a complete Rock Star. I guess that's how it goes.  Liam is doing so great, his reading is really coming along, it's amazing. He also just gave his first report (it was oral) in History, the subject was Pirates (we let him choose the subject) and we were sore amazed at how well he did! Ev has been working very hard in her math and in her Mandarin studies with Les. I am always amazed at her writing, I need to give her more assignments in that area so she can hone her skills. We are working on a Biology Unit and I am trying to tailor it between the two of them- that is a challenge.

I had to have the TAH because I have a history of some issues, including Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and I also had some fibroid that were giving me issues. My providers her are top notch, just all around great Doctors that truly care and listen and so we all thought it was time that I have the surgery. I have never been pregnant or given birth, so with my PCOS diagnosis, my chances of getting cancers in the female reproductive organs were very high. I had been asking various Doctors for a hysterectomy for at least 10 years but no one would do it. So, finally, all my dreams of surgical menopause have come true. Yes, Virginia, menopause is as fun as you've heard.

So that's what's happening. We are busy and happy even if we are a bit stressed. We are sad about Billy but we will make sure he is loved until his last moment with us and we will not let him suffer. And come hell of high water we will all end up in Michigan.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Algebra of Dating

I was driving around in the car the other day with my daughter, we were chit-chatting about this and that, nothing in particular. At one point, she looks over at me and asks, "How old do you think I will be when you and Papa will say it's okay for me to date someone that I like?"

Ok. Was not expecting that.
Think fast!
 I joking reply with the standard, "Thirty-five."

She's not having that. She replies, "No. Not a good answer. You can't say thirty-five. Because whatever age you say, like thirty five, I will get to that age and then you will just add five years. So it's more like whatever age+5=dating age for infinity"
I don't really see an issue with this particular equation, but I know this woman-child sitting next to me and I can sense that she is genuinely searching for an answer and she is not in the mood for further joking.

I asked her if there is someone she is interested in dating right now. (and hold my breath)
She tells me that there is not. ( I breathe again)
I think quietly for a moment and tell her that when she does come across someone that she likes in that way, maybe we could talk about dating then and what "dating" might mean for that age and what sort of expectations a partner might have and what our expectations/limitations might be. This satisfied her.

There is no algabraic formula for figuring out when you should date, for who you should date, just as there are no formulas for raising a bright shining star of a daughter. You just sort of have to look for guidance where you can and hope for the best. I really hope that I can guide her through these next years of her life. I want to teach her how to be true to herself, how to remain bright and bold, how to be safe, how to be independent, how to be Evelyn.

Friday, October 13, 2017


This is Liam Wayne Ao Zhuang Dillon and today October 13, 2017 he successfully completed reading his very first chapter book!

This is very big time stuff for him. He has struggled with reading for a long time. He loves books and stories, he actually has a very high level vocabulary and his comprehension of read materials whether he reads it or it's read aloud-is off of the charts, but it is the physical act of reading that gives him a hard time. 

You see he was born with his cleft lip and palate, and that directly affected his speech, which has directly impacted his reading and spelling. He is as smart as they come. He just doesn't process reading orally as fast as other kids his age. It is so nice to be able to sit with him, and concentrate for as long as he needs on a chapter, to really focus on the quality of the words and not the quantity. 

Everyday since school at home began he read a chapter aloud and then had to write three complete sentences about the chapter that he read. He would use the book as a reference for spelling and facts, he had to use "good handwriting". At first, he wasn't too sure about the whole idea, but now he loves it and looks forward to reading everyday. He likes to save reading for last so we have lots of time and he doesn't feel rushed. 

I was pleasantly surprised through this entire book with the different words he actually read correctly and how he seemed to know what larger words meant when we stopped him and asked him about the definitions. Word on the street is that he's very excited for the next book in this series (thank you Becca Salani for gifting these to him when we lived in New Jersey!). I have also informed him about the very popular "Hop to 25" a book log that Mama keeps for her students and when they reach 25, they get a special treat. 

So, here's to Liam, the newest reader-face of the Dillon Clan!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Essay by Evelyn Dillon

One of Evelyn's assignments this week was to peruse our poetry collection and find a poem that moved her, then turn in a five paragraph essay about that poem. This is the poem she chose and her subsequent essay.

I want to make poems that say right out, plainly,
what I mean, that don't go looking for the
laces of elaboration, puffed sleeves.  I want to
keep close and use often words like
heavyheartjoysoon, and to cherish
the question mark and her bold sister
the dash.  I want to write with quiet hands.  I
want to write while crossing the fields that are
fresh with daises and everlasting and the
ordinary grass.  I want to make poems while thinking of
the bread of heaven and the
cup of astonishment; let them be

songs in which nothing is neglected,
not a hope, not a promise.  I want to make poems
that look into the earth and the heavens
and see the unseeable.  I want them to honor
both the heart of faith, and the light of the world;
the gladness that says, without any words, everything.

The poem "Everything" by Mary Oliver leaves me thinking about how wonderful this poem is. I believe she writes this poem to tell the reader what she wants each of her poems to achieve, what impact on the world she wants the poems make, and what her poems are about. I wonder if she is proud of how well her poem can speak to people of different ages and strike them with wonder and curiosity, because she should be proud. 
She writes at the beginning of her poem, "I want to make poems that say right out, plainly what I mean,". By writing this, I believe she is explaining what she would like her poems to achieve. She wants them to achieve being straight forward in what she wants to say. Also in stanza one she states, "...and to cherish the question mark,". By this, I think she is trying to say she wants to always ask questions and learn, and maybes is trying to make the reader stay curious and ask questions too. She wants to continue to wonder about the world.
In stanza two it says, "I want to write while crossing the fields that are fresh with daisies and everlasting and the ordinary grass."and with this I supposes is saying what she wants her poems to be about. I think she is saying that she wants her poems to be about her traveling and appreciating the world around her, just like she appreciates daisies and the green of the "ordinary grass". Mary wants to take her readers with her on her journeys by describing through poetry to give them images of how she sees things . I also believe she would like her poems to be different from other poets.
Mary heart fully writes in stanza three, "I want to make poems that look into the path and the heaven and the the unseeable. I want them to honor both the heart of faith, and the light of the world; the gladness that says without any words, everything."By this, I think she means she wants her poems to say what other people miss. She wants to write about the overlooked things in life. To express things people under-appreciate.
Lastly, I believe she wants others to see the world in different ways, the poem "Everything"is about how Mary Oliver wants her poems to be like and how she wants to express herself, because the poem is very straight forward and the words she uses gives imagery and feeling, thoughts and emotions to the reader. My thoughts are that the poem shows how wonderful and fantastic she wants to be able to to be as she writes about to way she sees the world. The poem she wrote, I believe, she would love for it to import the world and help people see it from a different point of view and she should be proud of this poem, because I think it has achieved what she wants it to say.

The Brass Dragon Academy

In what may seem an abrupt change of events, because they totally were (in a way), we have taken the kids out of school and re-started our homeschooling routine. In lots of ways though, the decision was not abrupt and had been coming for quite awhile, it was just that final few things that tipped us over the edge that happened all in one weekend and we pulled the plug on Public School, got the kids back home and started our curriculum.

I want to go on record as saying that there are pros and cons to each type of schooling, but for us, homeschooling is what seems to be the best and what offers us the opportunity to be ourselves and the best version of the kind of family that we want to be.

Both of my kids were very stressed out in the public school setting, though they were each successful as measured by the system. The constant testing, the rigid schedules, the rules, the inability to use the restroom when Ev needed to (yes, this became a huge thing- if you knew Ev you would really get it), the fact that the better Ev performed, the more they expected. Liam had an IEP but we honestly could not see many results from the program, this was the second year in a row, he was on the Class Dojo system which uses that system of marking children for bad behavior, his love of reading was being smothered out of him. There were just lots of reasons. Also their bus ride was an hour each way so they had to be at the bus stop at 6 am in the morning and did not get home until 4 pm, so their day was technically longer than their father's work day. All of this and I haven't even discussed the social issues that they were facing- the racial insults, the bullying... My kids were miserable. We were all miserable. My family was suffering.

Luckily, my husband and I are in a position where we can do something about it. We could make a change for our kids. We could return to something that we knew, although not perfect, worked for us. We had never gotten rid of our homeschooling stuff. We had homeschooled before, so it wasn't like we were starting cold and were deathly afraid to do it. So we just... did it.

The difference in my kids on the first day of homeschool was palpable.

This is week 2. And yes, there has already been a few "attitudes". Like I said, it's not perfect. But, we love it. Liam is reading SO MUCH. Ev is writing and reading so much more. The history curriculum we have planned is going to be pretty in depth. Lots of Art planned (Ev has told me that I'm a better Art teacher than the one at her school was!) I'm very excited for our Science unit. Some not so fun things like Grammar and Spelling, but hey- that's life.

So, please wish us luck.
I'm going to need it.
I have an eighth grader and a third grader.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Cleft Lip & Palate Awareness Week

In honor of Cleft Lip & Palate Awareness Week, I thought I might talk a some about my wonderful son Liam, our journey to him and his journey with his CL&P.
Liam before lip repair in China
Our approach to being the parents of a child with a Cleft Lip and Palate is different than most as we knew right from the start that we were jumping into being the parents of a child that had a cleft lip and palate. We started Liam's adoption about 3 years after Evelyn was home and on the second time around, it was very clear to us that we wanted to bring a child home that not only needed a family, but a child that needed us in other ways too, I think that's the simplest way to put it. We set out to complete a Special Needs Adoption, which is to say, a child that has a medical need of some sort.
Our first glimpse of Liam
Very early on in the process, Les and I had to sit down and complete a Medical Conditions Checklist. If you aren't sure what that is, it's a list of potential medical conditions that a child can present with, anything from prematurity, to anemia, from HIV to complex heart conditions and anything in between. Once you have been to China and you have seen children waiting in a hallway to meet a family to call their own, and you look at a list like that, you realize very quickly that there is not only one child behind every condition on that list but hundreds and they are each a precious individual and they each deserve the chance to have a family and thrive. The night we sat down to decide which medical conditions we might be able to manage as a family and which ones we might not, still haunts me. Among the conditions we checked off, we did decide that cleft palate and/or lip was something we could handle. I knew exactly what it was, I also knew the stigma attached to that medical condition in Chinese culture, I knew that Speech Therapy and multiple surgeries would be a part of the deal but I just knew that I could do it. Les agreed.
Another picture sent from China while we waited

A cleft palate is when, in utero, the roof of the mouth doesn't close completely and the baby is born with an opening there, this can encompass the soft palate or the hard palate or both. Sometimes this opening extends to all of the way through the front jaw line and into the upper lip and it can affect the appearance of the nose on the affected side. The child can also have a cleft on one side; a unilateral cleft or both sides; a bilateral cleft. 
Another picture from the Orphanage

We submitted our paperwork and we waited. And we waited for yet another child to call our own. We had several conditions on the list; we had said that we would take boy or a girl. One snowy day we got a call. Our agency had a file that they thought we might be interested in. A small boy with a unilateral cleft lip and palate fourth degree (this meant both soft and hard palate were involved as well as the jaw line) but that he was on target developmentally, he was extremely precocious, he was bright, funny, and had been in Foster Care, would I like to see a picture and some information? "OH! We'll take him!", was my reply. The agency lady said, "Mrs. Dillon? Aren't you married? Wouldn't you like to talk this over with your husband? Don't you want to see the file first? Have a pediatrician look it over?" I Laughed. "Oh yeah. I'll call my husband in. He's shoveling the driveway. But this is our son, I know it. Do NOT GIVE THIS FILE TO ANYONE ELSE. I'll call you back in 10 minutes."

The first time in my arms
Two months later, we were in China once again. It was hot. Again. It was a different large room. But it was filled with people and we were waiting once again to hear our name, straining to see where our baby(toddler actually) was. He was in a corner, playing with a  broken blue truck. We had to bribe him with food. It didn't take long for him to warm up to us though. He liked that we had food and that Evelyn made sure none of the other kids took that truck away from him. Soon we were back in a quiet hotel room with him and our time as a family of four began. 

Liam and the blue truck

First moments as sister and brother

To tell you that Liam is my personal hero would be an understatement. I have watched that boy change countries at a time when it is most difficult to make that transition and he survived. He survived his time in China without a family of his own, being unable to verbally communicate. He has gone through years of not having people understand his speech and I have never once seen him be frustrated at anyone over that. He has been through multiple surgeries and he faces each one with a spirit of courage and grace beyond his young years. Above and beyond all of the stuff that comes along with having a cleft lip and apart he is just a boy, with all of the trimmings. He is my Liam. He is the sweetest and most giving little person, always ready with a smile or a kind gesture. His smile lights up the room. Evelyn came into our lives and made us whole but Liam came into our lives and completed us. We were all missing something until this kind, clumsy, wacky fella waltzed into our lives. 

When Liam first came home from China, we called his tongue The Veal Cutlet as he had absolutely no muscle tone in it whatsoever. He had no muscle tone in his cheeks. I guess it's important for me to tell you here that Liam did have surgery in China to repair his lip but when we met him at the age of 22 months to bring him home, his palate was still unrepaired. At that time he was still eating mostly from a Cleft Bottle and soft foods that he could mush. He had never learned to suck, there wasn't much in the way of chewing action, and some foods would just come right back out of his nose. We had at least two years of solid work to strengthen to muscles in his tongue and cheeks just so that he could lick peanut butter off of his lips, THEN we could work on his speech sounds.

When he first cam home, we started right away with Baby Sign Language. It was all we had. Liam left China at the age where the brain looses it's first language faster than it can pick up a second language so it does this weird shut down thing and he was really mad and refused to make any verbal sounds except to cry for a few weeks (that was fun). Then once he started to pick up English, it was completely guttural sounds, no consonants at all. We had to use Signs. He ended up having over 300 that we used.

We started ST right away. That continues to this day, he is eight years old. At this time, he goes simply for "clean-up" issues and maintaining good habits, all of his cleft related issues are a thing of the past. But as we move through different surgeries and appliances, those cleft related speech issues will crop up again.

His first surgery was to repair that open palate once we were home. While he still had an open palate to deal with he drooled almost constantly. He could cram fistfuls of food up in that opening, it was quite impressive really, so I had to watch him carefully. We also had to watch no to give him any thing too drastically hot or too cold as the open palate is very sensitive. Eventually he needed a second palate revision as the first one was too tight. Liam had a very wide cleft and we knew that going into the first surgery there might have to be a second one. Along with the sound palate surgery, they did a scar revision on his lip from the surgery in China (that scar was very tight and causing pulling and soreness) and they worked on the tip of his nose to even out some of the slanting from the loss of cartilage.
Right after first palate repair

After second palate repair and lip revision

Day 2 of 2nd palate surgery/lip revision

Post-surgical stitch abscess(quite common)

One week after that second surgery
We are preparing for the upcoming Bone Graft that kids with that cleft in the upper jaw (Alveolar Cleft) need to have when they are about this age so the adult teeth have something to hold onto when they come in. That should be about it, unless Liam decides he wants to have further surgeries on his nose when he is older. Last this time however, he has decided that his nose is just perfect the way it is and he likes his nose and I agree and we have chosen not to have further Plastic Surgery on that. 
Liam age 6 as Robin Hood
Is it easy having a Special Needs kiddo in your life? No. It's not. It's not easy planning All of the Speech Therapy, the Doctor's appointments, the surgeries, watching your child go through it all. Would I do it again? In a minute! Liam has enriched our lives in so many ways. I will never be able to repay that little boy for coming into my life and making it better, for making me a better person. It has been an absolute honor to be his Mama, to be here for him during every scary moment for him, to have him reach out for my had or climb onto my lap. Some conversations have ripped my heart out, the ones about why he has a scar on hid face and no one else does, the ones about kids at school teasing him, the ones where he decides, with a maturity far beyond that of an eight year old, that he likes his nose just fine and the surgeon is the one in the wrong for expecting him to change his face...Some conversations have been the kind that make my heart swell, the ones where he tells me that he trusts me to handle everything and to just let him know what needs to happen as it's going to happen, that he thinks I am the best Mama ever and he is glad that we are together, the ones where he looks at me and simple tells me that he loves me. Cleft palate or not, this is my son and he is simply the best boy in the world, I wouldn't trade him for all of the gold in the Universe.

Liam age 8 just before Second Grade

Monday, May 8, 2017

Family Day Anniversary

May 8, 2005. Les and I found ourselves in the most unlikely of places, the middle of a crowded Conference Room in a hotel in China. Halfway around the world from anyone or anything we had ever known, straining desperately to hear the sound of our last name called out so that we might head to the double doors in the front of the room, to reach out and take hold of a tiny child that we had only ever seen a single photograph of, but whom we were already completely and hopelessly in love with.

I kept stretching to see if I could catch a glimpse of her, the one little tiny baby that was to be mine, but there were fourteen babies, fourteen nannies, and several Orphanage Directors with hotel staff and the Adoption Agency folks there too, and I just could not see her. My one photograph, I would later realize made it seem like she was much bigger than she actually was, and it was also very outdated....but still I wanted so badly to start making up for lost time. To start drinking in every single moment that I could, to start reading expressions, to see her, to see that this was real, that it was really happening, that there was really going to be a baby just for me at long last.

Finally, after eternity, they called out "Dillon!" and as I walked forward with wooded legs and my heart pounding so hard that I thought I might be having a coronary event, I saw a Nanny from the orphanage make her way from the very back of the crowd where she had been pacing with my little one (no wonder I didn't catch a glimpse of my baby), we came together at the doorway. I didn't take time for the customary pleasantries, I just reached out and took Evelyn. She was already crying and upset. I could hear that she was hoarse, so I knew right away that she was probably sick, I just wanted her in my arms right that instant. I took her and I never looked back. I never looked back. If someone had said, "Oh that's the wrong baby, or Oh sorry, you can't have her" things would have gone very, very badly for the entire country right then and there. She was mine and that was final.

Adoption is a funny thing. I say all of the time that the four of us came together through pain and that is true, but there is such beauty and love and complexity in the stories of adoption. When you find your children out there in the great, wide world and you make a warm haven for the family you want in life, there is a miracle in that so far beyond biology that involves choice and the diligence of the human spirit, I can not begin to describe it. That is not to say I believe that what I have with my children surpasses what birth families have, but I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that the love I have for my children is the same. The same. And if anyone doubts that, I would suggest to them that they think upon the words my mother said to me when I was talking about adoption with her, "It isn't the giving birth to a child that makes you their mother, it's the day in and day out of taking care of them, meeting their needs, being there for them and putting them before yourself over and over again- that's what makes you a mother." 

Over the years Evelyn has blessed our lives with a joy that is immeasurable. She is a person of highest quality. She is kind, intelligent, bright, well mannered, she is diligent in her studies, she works hard, she always has a kind word, she laughs easy, she walks around singing and giggling... I could spend entire volumes speaking about what a joy this girl has been. I will tell you this, the moment that I took her into my arms, I knew that my life had finally begun, but I really had no idea just how wonderful of a life it would be. I am so lucky to be able to live this life along side her and have a child such as this call me Mama. 


She will be thirteen in just one short month and I can not fathom where the time has gone, but I do know that I am eternally thankful that my body was broken and busted so that I was forced to search the world for my children. I have found in these two- miracles beyond understanding. My heart is full to bursting everyday that I am alive because I have these beautiful children in my life. I love the country of China for the beautiful gift, for entrusting me with the lives of these two precious people. 

Evelyn is a person full of light. She shines. I wish I could take credit for that. I can't. It's just her. I tell  her all of the time, I went to China for you, not just any baby girl, but you, because you are my daughter, you are the one that I needed, the one that made us all complete.