Friday, April 21, 2017

Gotcha Day #3!



Ni Hao!

Yes, it’s been a year since I’ve blogged. The other day, a friend asked me if I blogged any more.  I chuckled and said, “No…mainly for 2 reasons:  (1) No one would be interested in the mundane day-to-day chaos of the Martindale family and (2) I barely have enough time in the day to bathe, much less blog.”  I think bathing is probably more important, and I’m sure my family and co-workers would agree.  



Please bear with me.  I’m just going to type and see where it leads.  Maybe it’ll be short; maybe it’ll be long.  But, I am purposefully taking time to do this because I think it’s important to document my feelings on this very special day.

It’s been quite the year!  Another friend of mine says, “The days are long, but the years are short.”  Isn’t that the truth?!?  I can.not.believe that it has been 3 years since traveling across the world to meet Olivia.  



Many of you know our story, but many of you may not.  I’ve said it many times, but our story is one of perseverance, grace, and multiple blessings.  Blessings and grace that I don’t deserve.  It’s a story that growing up, I never would have imagined living.

I guess I’ll start with the significance of today.  You see, it was on this day, April 21, 2014, that Yong Ning Yu became Olivia Yu Martindale.  It’s a day that I will never forget.  It’s a day that I had waited for….for almost 8 years.

I grew up thinking that I would go to college, get married, have children, etc.  I did the first two and then hit a “snag” in “the plan,” or what I thought was “the plan.”  At age 30, after many rounds of fertility treatments, I was told that the next step was in vitro and even then, there was no guarantee that I would be able to have children.  Wow – insert shock and awe here.  I’d never really thought that infertility would ever be something I would have to face (ignorance on my part).  So, after weighing the pros and cons and much prayer, we decided to go the adoption route.  We attended an information session at Children’s Hope International (We had friends who had adopted through them, and at the time they had a local office.) and started the adoption journey.  I will spare you all the details about the paperwork (You can read them deeper in the blog if interested.), but let’s just say that any unorganized individual would be overwhelmed with the paperwork. 

At one point early in my life, I prayed for patience.  As my grandmother would say, “Be careful what you wish for.”  Wow – did God answer that prayer!

We waited, and waited, and waited…..keeping our paperwork up-to-date along the way.

Fast forward to 2009 – S-U-R-P-R-I-S-E!!!!  A pregnancy test came back positive, and baby Ansley was born in September!!!  (That’s a story for another day.)  http://martindalefam.blogspot.com/2009/04/surprise.html

This is a current picture of Ansley.
 

We continued to wait and wait and wait….keeping our paperwork up-to-date.  I also read blogs and scoured information to see where we were in the time warp with this adoption. 

Finally, in January of 2014, I got the call.  The call I had been waiting on for almost 8 years.  I will never forget that day as long as I live.  Read that blog post here:  http://martindalefam.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-moment-weve-been-waiting-for.html.  

This is the first and only picture we received of Olivia.
 

Fast forward to December of 2015, and we had another surprise – baby boy this time!  (Olivia loves her little brother Reese and is very nurturing and motherly.)

Here is a picture of Reese. 


Stealing words from my blogpost last year because they are still applicable:
I remember it like it was yesterday.  I remember the wait….the long wait….that morning/afternoon until it was time to leave the hotel to meet Olivia.  I remember the smell of the hotel and how I did not sleep the night before…I remember how nervous and anxious I was….I remember how emotional I was….I remember having breakfast in the hotel that morning and crying when I met a mother who was there with her 12 year old daughter on a heritage tour and telling her, “today is the day.”  I remember the silence in the van on the drive over…except for Ansley chatting away…I remember the construction at the building….I remember the awful elevator we had to ride, how cold it was in the building, how it smelled.  I remember the room where we waited.  I remember hearing footsteps, and our guide saying, “That’s them.  They’re here.”  I remember turning around, and there she was.  Little tiny thing….with no expression whatsoever…..Ansley tried to give her a stuffed panda bear that we brought her, and the orphanage workers speaking to her in Chinese telling her that it was for her.  I remember the looks on the orphanage workers faces and how they checked us out.  I remember how they genuinely looked sad to leave her.  I remember how she wasn’t too sure about Philip at first….I remember taking our first “family of 4” photo…I remember taking a picture with the orphanage team (so glad we did)…I remember how she screamed in the van on the way back to the hotel.  I thought at the time she was grieving.  (As it turned out, she screamed every time we got in the van.)  I remember trying to give her a bath, but she wouldn’t sit down in the tub….so, I bathed her standing up.  I remember the first smile…her signature, infectious smile….the one that melts your heart…I remember seeing her terrible front teeth…I remember holding her as she cried going to sleep that night.


Olivia continues to thrive.  We are so thankful for how healthy she is.  She's very small for her age, but she makes up for it in personality.  She’s a great eater, and it appears that her food possessive issues are slowly going away.  

Olivia's school friends. They love her unconditionally, too!



She is stubborn, hard-headed, highly spirited, independent, strong-willed…..all of those adjectives apply.  All of these traits will serve her well in life, as long as we can survive until then!  J  She is strong and athletic.  We discovered in December that she’s musical.  (If I can figure out how to post that video, I will.)  She is loving; she is sweet; she doesn’t know a stranger.  She loves to play outside.  She’s smart and inquisitive.  She loves to work with her hands, help in the yard, and help fix things.  She has a 100,000 watt smile that lights up a room.  




Her English is SO much better!  She still has speech once per week, but she has made great strides.  We have made the decision to go ahead and start her in kindergarten this fall.  She is ready, and I think she will do great!  



For those of you wondering, she does not sleep with her shoes any more.  That tells me that she’s finally comfortable now and knows that no one is going to take her shoes.  She is rather possessive about what she deems as “hers,” and we are still working on sharing.



We celebrated her 5th birthday with an ice skating party.  She had a blast and wants to do it again!  



 

Adoption is tough, and parenting is, too.  It’s hard; it’s exhausting; it’s painful, but it’s also beautiful and amazing.  We do our best each and every day.  Some days are better than others!  We have and will continue to have open dialogue and communication with all of our children about adoption.  As Olivia grows older, we will share all we know about her past.  She knows she’s from China.  She will see other Asian people and say, “They China.  Me China.”  She is beginning to make the distinction.  Before, it was just eye color.  Now it appears to be other things.  She asks about when she was a baby, but I don’t think that she’s made the connection that she has a birth mother out there.  She is beginning to pick up on more and more things.  Some day soon, we’ll have that conversation.



I couldn’t do “life” without the unwavering support of Philip, our families, and our friends.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, has been nothing but supportive in every way throughout this entire process.  They love Olivia….they love her for who she is…..her crazy little sweet and stubborn Chinese self, and they love us even when we aren’t at our best.  THANK YOU!





The other night, we were looking at our pictures from China and talking about our trip.  There’s a great shot of Ansley as we are leaving the hotel to meet Olivia.  I said, “Ansley was excited to meet you.”  The next picture was this one….the first time we saw her in person.  I said, “We were waiting on you.” and went on to tell her the story.  She said, “You?  Wait on me?”  And I said, “Yes, baby girl…we were waiting on you.”  We waited on YOU for almost 8 years, and YOU were definitely worth the wait.

This is the picture of that moment when she walked into the room. 
Thanks for sharing in our journey.
Jill

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