Tuesday, September 22, 2015

365 Days with Laila

Today is a big day!  Today is the one year anniversary of Laila's "gotcha" day in Nanning, China.  This time last year our sweet girl was having one of the worst days of her life.  She was torn from everything she'd ever known and she was NOT happy about it.  She refused to go to me (she's a stubborn girl for sure) and eventually her Nanny just had to walk away and I was told to pick her up.  She SCREAMED.  A LOT.  Our sweet little girl was downright terrified.  And who could blame her?  Adoption is the best response we can give to little lives that have been filled with far too much loss, but at the onset, adoption is one more difficult thing for a child to go through.
Thankfully, "Gotcha" Day is not just the end of one story, but it is where the story of redemption begins.  I'll tell ya honestly guys, redemption isn't an easy story.  It is sad, sometimes heartbreaking.  There are tears from the scared child and from the heartbroken new parents as they watch their new child process another loss.  It is hard.  Sometimes really hard. There's rejection.  There's trauma.  There's far too much to explain in a simple blog post.
During the days after Gotcha we were in survival mode.  She would hardly sleep.  She would cry for her nanny at the top of her lungs, pointing to the door and to the window and yelling "Agea"!!!!  She had sores ALL OVER her arms and legs.  Her belly was distended and hard.  I remember undressing her, putting her in the bathtub, and praying to God that she would be okay.  She was sick, she was broken-hearted, and we were all in survival mode.  Just get through this bath.  Just get through this night.  Just get through this day...

Thankfully, by God's grace with each passing day a little more healing took place.  Her emotional scars began to heal.  Her physical scars began to heal.  Our family came together and settled in for the long haul.  Her attachment was harder than Chengbin's had been.  She just needed more time.  In China she didn't like Mommy.  Once home she wasn't so sure about Daddy.  Thankfully her "Half the Sky" book that the orphanage gave us had documented every bit of her life that she'd spent in the orphanage and provided us tremendous insight.
This sweet girl barely crawled at 16 months old.  She didn't walk until she was 22 months old.  Every 6 months in the orphanage, her one-on-one caregiver changed and she grieved that loss.  No wonder her attachment was so difficult- she had spent her life up until this point extremely sick, extremely tired, and with caregivers that kept changing right as she would build her attachment.

 So not surprisingly, it was more than 6 months before she really began to build attachment to all members of our family.  After the 6th or 7th month she finally began to see that this just might be different.  That we just might be her forever.

We have been so blessed.  God really has given us a front row seat to witness a miracle.  That's what she is- a miracle.

Sweet Laila Jean is a happy, healthy four year old! 
She's funny and so, so sassy!! (But don't tell her cause she'll insist that she is NOT SASSY! ssshhhhh) 
 She loves to play with "Sissy and Chengbin".
She constantly asks "I sleep with Mommy at Disneyworld??"
We just love this little firecracker of a girl so much!!!! 
We can't wait to see the plans God has for this girl!!!  It seemed only fitting that she wear the special shirt that so many friends and strangers bought to help bring her home on this special day.  We let her balloons go and said a prayer that somewhere her birth Mama & Baba will receive a peace in their hearts that only God can give them.

365 days with Laila.
Thank you ALL for supporting us along the way.  For praying for us.  For helping us bring her home.  For loving this little girl from afar and then welcoming her into her new family, new church, new school, and new life!
Laila Jean, you have been one of the most amazing blessings of our life.  We are so lucky to be your family.  I am so lucky to be your Mommy.  Always remember, God really does have more in store for you than you can ask or imagine.  And we will be sitting on the front row to watch it all unfold!!

Monday, September 14, 2015

First Day of School!

Well, the summer came and went SO fast I still can't believe it's over!!

The kids started school in mid-August and we are adjusted and back to learning!

Kate- 5th Grade
Chengbin- 1st Grade
Laila- Pre-k4

I am still shocked at how much has changed in Laila in less than a year!! She started out daycare in the 1 year old class and it was correct for her developmentally.  For her to walk in to a prek4 classroom only 10 months later is a miracle!!! God is doing miracles in her life and the view from the front row is magnificent!!

And ever since that first day of school I've been asked every, single day...
'Mama, can I go bus with Sissy & Chengbin??'

Soon little one- soon!!

He writes the best stories doesn't he???

Monday, August 31, 2015

11 months, 9 days, AND....

She put her feet on the rug!!! Most children who grow up in orphanages have sensory issues... Textures or temperatures or smells or sounds that they simply have not experienced and that make them INCREDIBLY uncomfortable.

For Laila, bathroom rugs have been her nemesis.  She has freaked out every single time her little feet have touched the bathroom rugs.  She has continually stepped around it, over it, or smartly sat a towel on top of it to make its feeling more manageable.

But today- 11 months and 9 days after joining our family she stepped her little feet onto it after her bath.  And then she rubbed her feet along it, feeling it's softness for the first time and appreciating this new sensory.

It may seem like a small thing... But for her, this is a BIG thing!  And we are celebrating!!! Yea Laila!!! Mommy is so proud of you!!

We are also praising God for setting this precious girl, once an orphan with no hope, into a family filled with love and so much hope! What a blessing to watch God make beauty of ashes.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Celebrating America's Birthday

Happy 4th of July!!!

We are so unbelievably lucky to live in this country and to have the freedoms we have.  I spent so much of today filled with gratitude to God for allowing me to be born in the USA.  We pray that we take full advantage of all the opportunities he has given our family as Americans to make an impact on our country and the world.  We pray that God continues to lead our family to use our talents & our many blessings to bless others.

These kids had a blast!!!

It was his second 4th of July as an American & the first one where he could really understand why we were celebrating America's Birthday!  He was so proud to be able to recite the pledge of allegiance and that he could talk about George Washington with me! So cute talking to this boy about how our country is so different from others and explaining how important the freedoms we have are.

And this little cutie had no idea what Independence Day is, but she was more than happy to get in on the birthday party festivities for America! (You know- whoever that is! ;)  I still can't get over the difference in less than a year!!  She has grown SO much!!! She loved picking out her outfit and listening to her sissy explain what would happen once it was dark on this awesome day!

And THIS is how we celebrated!!! We bought a ton of fireworks and had so much fun just setting them off with the kids.  We still have snakes, ground flowers, smoke balls, & sparklers left over for another day!! :) 

Our 4th of July was awesome! We miss being back home with our family, but we definitely made the best of it!!

Happy Independence Day America!!

Thanks for stopping by!
The Wilks Family 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Our New Addition

We have a new adoptee in the Wilks house! 

Meet our latest animal rescue...

Taylor the Turtle

She (he??) will be staying with us for a while!!  Kate found her trapped in some netting in our pond and we don't think she would've last much longer if Kate & Dad hadn't come to her aid!

And did I mention we just added a hamster last week?

Meet Janie- Chengbin's hamster! 
(Cause one hamster wasn't enough in this house ;)

Yep, we've got a full pet managerie going on over here!! 

And we've also got some really happy kids that love our in house zoo! 😜

Thanks for stopping by!
Fannie, Matt, & the kids

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Catchin' Some Fish

So today I spent the morning sick on the couch with Laila, but the older kids found some fun awaiting them at the pond that's right in our yard! 

Kate came into the house screaming.  I thought someone was hurt the way she was yelling! But she was actually super excited to report that after nearly two years of trying she had finally caught a fish!! So I forced myself to get off the couch and go see what she caught.

She caught her first perch!!! It was so awesome to see her excitement!!

 Within a few minutes they were back to show me Chengbin's catch.

then another for Katelynn.  At this point they were getting a little too comfortable holding the fish, so I warned them not to carry them around the yard.  I explained it was important to get them into the water fast.

So Kate came running back in a few mins later to tell me shed caught a huge fish and I had to see!  I was unprepared for what I saw...

Yep- that's right! She took the perch she caught and filled out critter keeper with water from the faucet! Lol!! I then explained the diff in water in the pond to water from the faucet, explained that we couldn't keep the fish in an aquarium, & set it free!! 

(Go fishy go!!! Sorry about the shock my daughter just put you in...)

Then Kate had her big catch of the day- she caught the biggest one yet!!

She was crazy excited that it was so heavy it was bending her fishing pole!!! 

By this point Mama was getting really sick again and said they had to call it a day!  Man did they have a great afternoon fishing though!

It's such a blessing to be able to live here in this awesome place where our kids can just spend a summer day playing in the backyard & fishing in the pond.

Something tells me these kids are just getting started on their summer fishing!! :)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

This is what redemption looks like.

A few months ago we hit a local beach for a quick photoshoot for my photography class.


What I didn't really think about til we got there is that it was Laila's first trip to a beach.


Her first time to feel the sand between her toes.

And at first, she wasn't too sure that she liked it.

But all of the sudden, she changed her mind.  Holding Daddy's hand made her feel safer... and she started noticing the sand... the waves...

And just like that...


We had another beach girl on our hands. :)

She left the beach completely soaked in a brand new dress.  And boy was she dirty!!


People sometimes stop and tell us how lucky she is to have us.  They comment about how baby girls are just given up in China & she's so lucky we went to get her.  (For the record- this is largely untrue now and there are much more complicated reasons for abandonment.)
Well, WE are the lucky ones.  We get to give a father to the fatherless.  We get to live out God's love and story of redemption every day.  We get to see the world the way he sees it- through the eyes of a loving father.  A father who delights in his children.  Who wants to see them happy and growing and being all that he has called them to be.  He called us to be a family to this sweet, beautiful little girl and her equally adorable and silly big brother. 
Our children's lives have been filled with loss.  But this is redemption.  Redemption that their heavenly father has orchestrated for them.  It is amazing to see the world through the eyes of these precious children and watch as God uses us to restore them.  As he helps us heal their hearts.  As we see a new joy sparkle in their eyes...

If you have ever said "I'd like to adopt one day" or considered becoming a foster parent, I urge you on Father's Day to take that step forward.  Become a foster parent or adoptive parent to the fatherless.  They need you to say "yes".  God needs you to help him to restore his children.  It is hard work.  It is amazing work.  And you will never regret it.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."
Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."  The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep."

John 21:15-17

Reflections at 9 Months of Forever

Lately I've been noticing something peculiar... It seems like we have actually begun to transition into a new kind of normal.

All of us have really.  Laila, in particular, seems to be really finding her groove.  She's feeling more and more secure in her life here with her new family.  Today marks 9 months of forever and there is just something different lately.  

She just seems to have more joy.

The days of multiple tantrums have slowed to a tantrum each day and then every couple days until they have slowly but surely gone away almost altogether.

I don't even know when it stopped.  Just realized recently, as I reflected on life and where each of my kiddos is at in their journey that we seem to be without the once daily fits.

Look, I'm not saying that she never throws fits now.  She does- but they aren't the same.  They aren't based in fear and need for security and control.  They are normal ones.  Toddler like.  And that's a great kind of normal.

We transitioned the kids into new bedroom set ups.

We've celebrated straight a's.

Celebrated the end of school with a road trip and trip to Disney.

Embraced the summer- complete w trips to the sprayer park and swim lessons.

And welcomed my sister and nephew to the house for the summer as she spends time w the kiddos!

And somewhere in the middle of all this things just started feeling 'normal'!!

Yep, our new normal has arrived at 9 months home.
And we are blessed to be there!!