Thursday, August 13, 2009


com·mit (kə mit′)to give in charge or trust, to bind as by a promise; pledge; engage committed to the struggle

2 weeks ago marked our 2 year Forever Family Day with Sophia. I am long overdue with an update on our private blog, so thought I would share this post with everyone in celebration of her Family Day Anniversary.

Most of you who have followed our blog, know about the long road of healing that our family has gone down with Sophie. She was adopted at the age of 2 1/2 after spending those 2 1/2 years in an orphanage with questionable goings on. I have been told over and over by people, "I don't know how you do it". Or, "I could never deal with what you are dealing with". My answer is usually, "I don't know how I do it, either." or "I don't do it with as much grace as I would like to".

I think the real answer though, as to how we have handled her(our) long road, would be COMMITTMENT. One of my favorite Christian speakers says, don't get caught up in feelings...they are temporary. Get committed!

I do not want to touch on the subject of disruption, because I have friends that have chosen that path and I do not want them or anyone to think I am being judgemental...because that is not my place. I do not judge anyone's decision. It is just that...theirs. And trust me when I say, even though it was not our decision, I understand.
But if I had one wish for every parent getting ready to adopt internationally or domestically, for that matter, it would be for them to committ. Leave the ladybug blankets and hairbows home and go over committed. As I look back over the past 2 years, I know that my heart was committed, but I wish it had been more committed beforehand! Less excited and less anticipation....more committment. The last few years might have been less stressful.

In that hotel room in Guangzhou, where I knew there was a problem, where I saw a child who appeared quite autistic and fear and doubt came creeping in, it was my husband who spoke the wise words. "It is just going to take time". My husband, the one who knew little about the adoption process or orphanage delays or institutional autism or any of the things us Moms study beforehand. My husband, the one who was not sure he wanted to add to our family. It. Was. Him. He had already committed....thankfully!

I remember crying in the hotel bathroom and asking God to give me a sign that things would be okay and to show me there was some kind of light on inside her sweet little head. But God, I have 3 other kids. But God. But God. As she was not able to stand without falling over easily at the age of 2 1/2. As we cleaned up the diarreah that came every 5 minutes all through each and every day and night. As she rocked and rocked. As she shook and tremored non stop. As she watched/studied her fingers when lying on her back to self soothe. As she sucked on any kind of clothe she could get a hold of...non stop. As she raged when I tried to hold her close. As she was so caught up in her self soothing behaviors that she did not seem to register what was going on. As she tried to smile, but instead just opened her mouth very wide. As she cringed and screamed when we had to touch her skin. When we could see no light on in those eyes. BUT GOD!


He sent me. It was His plan. Who was I to matter what I was feeling.

So, we marched on in what has been a very long march.

2 years later. Are things better. You bet! Are they One of Sophie's therapists told me that Sophie will be normal, but she will be her own normal. What a great way to put it, huh? Really, who are we to say what is the correct normal. I often find in life that those that are born with a mental challenge...have the biggest hearts around. So, who are we to gauge "normal". Right?

Sophie, is in many ways, still in her own world. When we are out in public, she will start dancing around...and I mean dancing, while singing and carrying on. She will drop to the floor when she feels like it amongst a big crowd. Things that most 4 1/2 year olds would not do, because by that age they are concerned by what others around are thinking about them.

Last week while we were on vacation and in a crowded restaurant, Sophie began her waltzing around and singing, like she was in some kind of performance. Ryan, who gets embarassed when she does things like that, asks me what is wrong with her...why does she do this. I told him that us adults really are influenced so much by others opinions and that Sophie is not inhibited by the presence or opinions of others...and how this was, in all reality, a good thing. Again, who is to say what normal is. Of course, he does not agree with me. lol!

Tuning out people in large crowds is a coping mechanism for her as is tuning out strangers. But if that is what she needs to do for now, that is what she needs to do. At least she is now receptive to people she is familiar with. Baby steps.

Another 6 months will bring us to the point of Sophie being home with us as long as she was in an institution...hopefully, we will see even more growth in those 6 months and lots more after that milestone!


Sophie was given a diagnosis in the autism spectrum along with RAD, which I do not often share as I do not want to box her into a diagnosis or label, I often said she was like an autistic child, but I knew she was not born this way. Her therapist pointed out to me that we needed to meet her where she was at this point, no matter what the reason she was there(dx wise) and help her climb out of where she was. Great point! The dx has allowed us to get her more of the help she needs. Do I expect her to grow out of the bet!

We did decide to try a medication to help with the constant raging and it has helped with absolutely no side effects. We are very thankful for that! The rage/anger is still there, but not as often and not quite as intense.


It is just going to take a while.

I truly feel that Sophie will go far in life. She has the determination of something I have never seen before. She knows much more than Dave and I combined(that was for my RAD parents). And she is more self confident than any child I have ever met. She does not believe there is anything she can not do. And there is no question she is extremely smart...just quirky. She will learn in a way different than most kids, but she will learn!

Quick story about her dance class this past year. From Sept. to Dec. she was a MESS in the class. Had no clue about trying to do what the rest of the class was doing. Was falling over constantly while just standing on her x. Wobbled all over just trying to get into 1st. position. Could NOT get any steps the teacher tried teaching her. A. Mess.

In Dec., it was time to order recital costumes. I asked the teacher to let me know if she would make it, cause I did not want to pay for her costumes if she was going to be kicked out. The teacher told me that Sophie was obedient, as in not running all over the she could stay, BUT she will most likely not know "get"the dance come recital time. Okay...good enough for me.

Come January, I would start hearing Sophie at home, reciting(verbally) the dance moves. "Step right, march, march, march, etc." Over and over and OVER. Well, guess what.....she got it and she got it perfectly! Who would have guessed!

Fast forward to the stage rehearsal in June. I told her if she falls while on stage, that she is to get right back up and keep dancing, so no one steps on her. Sophie falls. ALOT. So, I tried to prepare her for the inevitable. Would you know, their class is on stage and Sophie falls fast and HARD...slipping/flying in her tap shoes. BOOM!!! She flew right back up to her feet like no other child like would be able to do. Flew back up faster than a Weeble! I think the dance studio owner was shocked and praised her at the end. What makes Sophie able to do this, something most kids her age would not. 1. her not realizing embarassment. 2. her task oriented personality. I told her what to do, if something should happen and she was on a mission. 3. her familiarity with constant falling and not registering pain the same way others do. SOPHIE'S normal.

I will write another post about the RAD stuff soon. This is getting too long. : ) If you know anyone waiting for a referral or getting ready to travel, please feel free to share this post with them. It is written, in part, to help others and to educate a bit. I do not feel the agencies are doing enough of this. I will put some below and after pics for you to see.


It may take a while...may take a long while, BUT the love and structure of a family can go a long way in healing!!!!

And as much as love and family go along way...thanks to those of you who have held Sophie's healings in your prayers!!!! We could not have traveled this road without the love and prayer from you guys!!!




Be Blessed!!!



Shanna said...

Michelle~ beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.

redmaryjanes said...

I WANT EVERYONE TO READ THIS POST! Truly, I just really wish that I knew you in person. This is truly the key, right here commitment.

And I see she is wearing her princess bow and looks beautiful in it :) Would you mind if I put this photo on the Bow Blog?

Isabella's Mommy and Daddy said...

BEAUTIFUL... And you are sooo right... thank you for sharing..

The Ninja Boy said...

Thank you for sharing. I need this.

Missy said...

Oh Michelle,
This is THE most wonderful post! Thank you for your honesty and sharing your heart for your daughter. Sophie is the most perfect little Sophie God wanted her to be. I love that she moves to the music in her head and lives life the way I wish I could live. She truly lives out loud.
If more adoptive parents could only read this post! You share such wisdom!
Commitment, my friend!
Love Sophie!!! Keep dancing, sweet girl!

Blessed Single Mom said...

Thank you for sharing about Sophie and your journey as a family. I wish I had been more prepared when I adopted my son. We have and are facing many of the same issues. I pray that I can see his normal and meet him there.
It is such a blessing for Sophie that God placed her in a commited family. She is beautiful.

Michelle said...

She truly has come a very long way!!! What a wonderful family she has as well! Thank you for allowing us to celebrate her strengths, and achievements with you!
Her smile is precious.

Ohilda said...

Sweet Sophie, Happy forever family day!

Michelle, I love traveling this path with you and knowing that we have each others' backs. Your honesty and candidness has helped me so much as I'm sure it has helped many parents going through this.

Sophie is blessed, so are you, and so is every one of your readers.

Love you!

TanyaLea said...

Dear Michelle,

Thank you for being so candid and open about your experience...and truly pounding in the 'meaning' of the word that is SO important in every adoption process ..."commitment"!!! A very powerful post. I think it will help so many and should be part of pre-adoptive training classes. Your girls are beautiful and so is your heart! We all need to look at this process through realistic lenses and love unconditionally. That's the God-kind of love and how each of us should aspire to be!

Have a blessed weekend and thanks again for sharing! <><


GGAdventures said...

Beautiful post! As others have said, thank you for allowing us to share in Sophie's growth. Your commitment has made ALL the difference in the life of a child. And what a life lesson you are teaching your children!!! Truly inspiring.

Mei Mei Journal said...

Another inspired post with a perfect title. Being part of a loving, patient, committed family is probably the best therapy of all. We are both blessed to have husbands who are committed, also!

The Princess's Mommy said...

Beautiful post, my dear friend. Thank you for sharing your heart and your sweet Sophie with all of us.

Love you,

mommy24treasures said...

Oh Michelle, Sophie is so special. She has came so far and made some huge accomplishments.
Time and commitment... God is doing a major work.
Love you!

Jewels of My Heart said...

Oh, Michelle,
You know how I love your beautiful Sophie. She will forever have a special place in my heart. How thankful I am that our prayers are being answered.... baby step by baby step. How thankful I am that Jesus chose her family and that you are so committed to walk with her each step of the way.....
God's Speed to healing and freedom from the past sweet Sophie....
God's speed...
you are in my heart and my prayers.

Thank you for sharing and trying to equip parents so that they can commit to their child no matter the cost.

mom2eliza said...

Hi Michelle, your new CAP (china adoption parent) blog friend.

As you know, my Eliza, is living w/ autism, non-verbal. I loved this post, I cried. Brought back many memories and fears of my first few days in China with Eliza. I was in denial then because of all that I had read and prepared for. Funny, I kept thinking "6 months", in 6 months she'll be "normal". My love would pull her out of her shell. It has, in many ways, and I love her and thank God for that. She has taught me so much and the word "normal" and those early thoughts that I had, make me wince and cringe now. I've grown so much through Eliza; grown beyond those ladybug and bow days. We still have a long way to go.

On a conference call last night with our agency for our next adoption (we're waiting for TA), the SW spoke to all the families on the call about what to expect from your child in China. What she said was textbook..."you may even see characteristics of autism..." By that point, I tuned her out. It sounded dismissive and too rosey. I wanted to chime in and say something. It wasn't the time and I'm working on an e-mail to her. I loved what you wrote about leaving the ladybugs and bows at home. I'm approaching this next adoption so differently.

Thank you for sharing your blog and Sophia's story. Hugs my new friend, Sarah

Sheri said...

Happy Forever Family Day!! Thanks for sharing from your heart. This will be so helpful to many people! Sophie is a precious child of God who is blessed by a special, committed family.

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

This post was so beautiful Michelle!! There were so many wonderful points made here....and Kim is right, EVERYONE should read this post!!

I am so glad that she is doing so well.....what a cutie:)

Miss You and hope you are doing well!


Sherri said...


What a beautiful post. I am so glad you're seeing progress.

Reaching that milestone of Mia being with us longer than she was without us was significant. I hope you see a similar's as if she realized we're here forever.

Have a great day and thanks for being so honest!

April said...

I wish so much that I had of read this post before we went to get Eliana. In my heart I knew something wasn't right and I kept praying I was wrong. Well, I missed the mark in my prayer life...I needed to pray to be committed. Although we made a comment about wondering if we should leave Eliana in China we knew we would never do that. Once returning home I had a friend suggest interrupting the adoption and the Mama bear that was already in place took great offense to this. I just think if we had of really realized that Eliana would hurt, be so fearful, sorrowful, etc. we could have prepared ourselves. We went into Eliana's adoption thinking, "oh that won't happen to our daughter, that only happens with a very few from China." Wow, who were we kidding. Adoption agencies DO NOT prepare families enough or at all for a child that has been damaged by neglect, abuse and harsh circumstances.
I'm so thankful we are on this journey together. There have been so many times as I'm trying to remain absolutely calm through one of Eliana's rages, where I can hardly hold her because of how hard she fights, I have thought of you and said Michelle does it and so can I!
"Being tougher than a brick, mean as a she-bear with cubs, and harder than a steel ball to crack." That is us! Love, April

The Byrd's Nest said...

Your little "Sopie" will remain in my heart forever. I love this child....I love her because of Emma Jane....I love her because God chose her for you Michelle. You are so very special and that is why you are her Mommy because you are committed to God and the gifts He has given to you. I don't cry very easily but this post has brought me to are a very special family.

I told some people in our barefoot class the other day who were feeling discouraged about the language. When we were going through hard times with Emma Jane...I couldn't just look at yesterday and see how far we had come....I had to go back one week or two weeks...had she progressed....did she like me any better than she did two weeks is baby baby steps. You are very wise and that is why our little Sopie is with you. I love you.

JShannon said...

What a beautiful post Michelle. Thank you for being so honest and open about Sophie. It has helped me understand a lot more about adoption issues.

Dori's Mommy (Diana) said...

Wonderful post! Beautiful girl!

a Tonggu Momma said...

I wish I had seen this before Sunday. I may throw it in next Sunday, with your permission. Or at the NHBO site for Wednesday. Or both. Can you email me?

Faith, Hope, and Love said...

Praise God from Whom all blessing flow! Commitment and prayer have helped Sophie bloom into an amazing little girl. The beach photo is beautiful!


Robin said...

My heart soared reading this. Sophie is a beautiful girl, inside and out, with an equally beautiful family. How lucky you all are to have found each other.

Sophie's path will be her own, but there is no doubt in my mind that she will firmly and confidently blaze her own way to a bright and wonderful future.

Carmen said...

So nice to hear about Sophie. Baby steps are good! Keep writing so you don't forget, her story will be a great testimony someday.

Sharon said...

OMGosh! What an amazing post. I wish it could go in a magazine somewhere to reach even more people who would so love to hear these words. YOU are amazing, truly spirit filled, it brings tears to my eyes. I am so glad i finally got over here in time for this one! Thanks for all your hear wrenching honesty too!!

Felicia said...

Such a beautiful articulated it so very well...thanks for sharing.

Anna Grace`s Jie Jie said...

Wonderful post (: Love the pictures!!

Tiffany said...

Thank you Michelle for your sharing and honesty. Every waiting parent needs to read this. We went into Lily's adoption with all the ladybug bows and so forth that you mentioned. The next time around we prepared and committed ourselves for whatever God had in store for us.

Sophia is a beautiful little girl!!!! What a special little lady..... I love that she dances around and while it might not be everyone's definition of normal maybe it should be.....

Bless you and the commitment you all have made!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nancy Lee said...


Don and Lisa Osborn said...


It has been forever and a day since I've read your blog but gosh did I need this today and just this moment and I'm pretty sure God knew that.

Thank you for your candid, raw, bold thoughts. I love your emphasis on commitment. It is so true...I love how you say forget the bows and blankets and commit. I remember being in China and feeling like I had wrecked my life because things weren't going exactly as my little mind had envisioned them. My husband told me not to give up on her. I didn't feel like I was giving up on her but maybe she did...I thought I was committed and wanted her at 11 months to fully embrace me as her mommy??? Yikes...How much more I've learned about commitment in the past three years than in all the years beforehand.

You are ministering to others--some confused, some very broken and lonely--and I commend you for this.

Your worlds are pure gold and so is your precious heart!

Many blessings as you continue your journey. Congratulations!


hollym. said...

Fabulous post, Michele!! I chuckled, cried, sighed and said, Amen!! This should be read by all. Maybe a copy to the Bethany Magazine?
You're a family to be commended. God Bless you all.
Love, hollym.Bethany Momma

hollym. said...

Fabulous post, Michele!! I chuckled, cried, sighed and said, Amen!! This should be read by all. Maybe a copy to the Bethany Magazine?
You're a family to be commended. God Bless you all.
Love, hollym.Bethany Momma

Colleen said...

Ohhhh Michelle, what a beautiful, touching post right from the heart! I have been here several times to read it and each time it touches me even more. Sorry I am just now getting around to commenting. (It seems I keep getting side tracked these days!:) I love your honesty and commitment!! I agree, all "adoptive parents to be" should read this!!! It really is what parenting is all about...unconditional love and commitment!!
Congratulations on your Forever Family Day and many many blessings to sweet Sophie as she continues to thrive and grow in becoming the beautiful person she is meant to be!!!!
Big Hugs!!!!!!

Michelle said...

Oh Michelle,
I am sitting here writing this with tears in my eyes. I don't even know what I want to say, so I'll just say thank you for being so open, honest and willing to share your story so that others can learn from it. There is no doubt, you ARE committed!! Sophie has come so far over the past two years with your love, caring and commitment. I'm sending big hugs your way. You are one special person and a great mother!!!

Jennifer said...

Beautiful post! Thank you for sharing. You can see from the pictures that Sophie has come a long way!


~verna said...

Thanks for Sharing. I'm sending this to a friend whom I think needs it right now. You are so right on Commitment. It is what gets us through. You have done a marvelous job with Sophie. I love how you accept her as is. She is Sophie, PERIOD. That is how God looks at us. We are all "as is" purchases (purchased by his blood) that he sees past our dents and scratches to our potential. God Bless you!

Goosegirl said...

I just found your blog, but I live this every day as well. We are still dealing with RAD, PTSD and SPD as well as other issues that crop up daily. We too thought of disruption but are now so glad we never went that far. She is ours forever and her growth has been amazing.

Thank you for your beautiful post.

Welcome to our blog! We are happy for you to be a part of our "Day by Day" and to share how God is working in our lives. To read earlier posts, scroll down to the very bottom of the page and you can click on 'older posts'. Remember...we love to hear from YOU as well!