People have often asked us how his English is progressing. We are constantly working on building Tucker's language repertoire - please, thank you, help, more, all done, up, down, etc. in order to increase his ability to communicate wants and needs and decrease whining. It is paying off! His receptive language has already grown so much. This is no different than teaching a baby the English language, and so much of what we are doing is exactly like what we did when Noah and Liam were learning to speak. I bet he says around 15 words now, which is more than we could hope for in just four weeks. Tuck's language is coming along!
Another huge celebration is Liam's acceptance of Tucker. I have seen HUGE changes in a positive direction. He is really initiating play with Tucker now, and they laugh and get super silly together! While they still fight over toys from time to time, it isn't ALL they do, which is how their interactions were when we first got home. A week or so ago, Liam told Ryan, "Tucker not my brother...." Ryan glared at him, so Liam added, "...anymore," like that was better. Ha!! Last night I had them in the bath tub together, and they were seriously having the best time of their lives. I got a great video of them together, just squealing and splashing. They are both initiating hugs and kisses with each other. Liam's love for Tucker is a huge answered prayer.
Tonight, when Noah was praying, I told him I wanted him to think of two things for which he was super thankful. He said his standard prayer, "Dear Lord, thank you for this day. Thank you for everything you have given us. Amen." He then added, "Tonight I am very thankful for my games, and I am also thankful for my brothers." BROTHERS...that is brother with an "s." Be still my heart! Even Noah had some initial struggles when Tucker came home - more toward Ryan and me rather than toward Tucker - but again, these challenges have smoothed out. He is an incredible brother and seems to grow more mature and more caring with each passing day. I sometimes cannot believe that my 5 year old is SO big.
After delivering both Noah and Liam and coming home from the hospital, I remember this incredible euphoric feeling that lasted for a couple weeks each time. The birth of our children had caused me to fall in love with Ryan all over again...but each time deeper than before. I'm sure I even blogged about that at some point. Although Tucker was born in my heart and not of my body, the same has been true this time around. I have truly fallen head over heels for this man again. The way Ryan is supporting our family and providing for our every need is exactly what God calls a man to be to his wife. We seriously are having so much fun together and are great at tagging each other in when the other needs a break. On Sunday, Ryan let me sleep in (I made it until 9:15 a.m....woohoo!) and took the kids to out for breakfast and let them eat in the car while watching a movie. It was GLORIOUS! To not be woken up by crying or someone saying, "Mommy, I'm all done!" was wonderful. Ryan is such an incredible father and pours himself into our family. 99.9% of the time, Ryan will choose to be with us over anything else. He is such an shining example of the kind of men I want our boys to be someday. When we were in college, we were going through a really rough time in our relationship. I prayed to God and said, "God, if we make it through this, I know we will do incredible things in Your name." I can't believe Tucker was part of that promise! We just want to keep living out God's will every day now that we feel like we are finally doing just that.
I'm not going to lie. When we were in China, especially on the days when Tucker was pushing me away, I was thinking, "Nope, I don't want to do this again. The paperwork, the waiting, the pain, the rejection after all this time...not interested." It wasn't as though I had resolved to that thinking...but the thought did cross my mind. On the plane ride home, I thought to myself, "This trip home is seriously enough by itself to make me NEVER ever want to adopt from China again."
This is just another way adoption is like pregnancy, folks. Childbirth is no joke, and I had two deliveries without medication (Noah and Liam's birth stories). While both the labor and delivery were intense and at times painful, before you know it, you forget how badly it hurt. You start to see how the experience was so temporary and that the result was totally worth it.
Adoption is the same. The piles of paperwork, the 132 day wait for LOA, the wait to come face-to-face with Tucker, 17 days away from Noah and Liam, and the plane ride home were all difficult and taxing. We were home just over a week when I already started thinking, "I can't wait to go back. I can't wait to adopt again." I'm having those thoughts and life isn't all peaches and cream...but we are getting there! I can see how each of our individual fabrics are being pieced together and intertwined in a way that makes our family roots run deep. The thread stitching us together is becoming stronger with each day that passes. The time is not right for us to go back yet. There is much work to do as we become a stronger and stronger unit, but someday, I am hopeful that we will return to the country I fell in love with and bring home another child. A piece of my heart will always be in China. I miss it already. The experiences we had there are ones that are still so alive in my thoughts each day. This country allowed us to bring a treasured son of the King home to live with us. I love him more with each passing day. He is ornery, silly, affectionate, clever, and super snuggly. Seeing so many children waiting for families every single day leaves an ache in my heart that I hope never goes away.
Seeing children with heart conditions waiting - while they get sicker and sicker - and knowing they will most likely die unless adopted, it breaks me.
Seeing a 13 year old boy or girl waiting for a family - knowing that they will age out of the adoption program at 14 years old and end up living a life of crime or extreme poverty tears me apart.
Seeing a child with cleft lip/cleft palate who needs surgery and a family, it makes me think of Liam and how that child deserves a family just like our son.
Seeing a 7 year old child who has lived in an orphanage his/her entire life and not knowing if he/she will be "chosen," it crushes me.
However, I am so encouraged to hear that several families at our church are having serious conversations with one another about adopting! A friend sent me a message last night saying that all six couples in her Life Group shared that they were so moved by our story and are seriously considering adoption. So thankful that "God sets the lonely in families...." (Psalm 68:6) and praying this leads to more children coming home.
Ryan completed paperwork to receive the $5,000 benefit that his company offers to families who adopt. If you remember (or in case you are a new to reading my blog), we held a puzzle fundraiser in June with the idea that if we raised $5,000, we would give Ryan's $5,000 from work to another adoptive family. In 9 days, our family, friends, coworkers, and even strangers donated $5,425 to help bring Tucker home. NINE DAYS. I am still blown away by the generosity that was shown to us during that fundraiser, as well as the one the Bauermeisters held. We are keeping our promise and will be praying for God to show us which family to gift the $5,000. I can't wait to see who He reveals and then to share it with you. We so badly want to see more children experience the love of a family.
After an editor of South Magazine heard our story at church, she asked one of her writers to see if she could interview our family for their December issue. We met her at our home in September, and her questions made me relive so much of our experience. I was brought to tears so many times! The photographer came to the house and took pictures last Friday. I can't wait to see the article and for more people to hear what can happen when you let God's will for your life become your reality.
Since there seems to be a growing interest in pursuing adoption, I am thinking about putting together a Q&A session sometime soon. If you would be interested in attending an event like that, please leave a comment on my blog, a comment/private message on Facebook, or email me. I want to do whatever I can to support those who are in the initial stage of consideration to families who is ready to fill out their application today.
Thank you for your continued encouragement, prayers, and love for our family. For the past 2 1/2 weeks, we've had meals brought to our home every other day, and these meals will continue through Thanksgiving. It has been such a blessing to just focus on our family and to be fully engaged with them rather than be distracted by grocery lists, shopping trips, and cooking. Thank you to each person who has already blessed our family with a delicious meal, and thanks to each of you who will be bringing us dinner in the next 2 1/2 weeks. We are so very grateful!
One thing is for sure. Our home is much louder and crazier with three boys, but I wouldn't trade the squeals, laughter, love, and affection for anything in the whole world.