Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Six Months

Six months ago, we stepped off the plane as a family of five. Our newest family member, 9-year-old Abigail, joined us in Xi'an, China and then accompanied us for the next two weeks as we traveled across China to complete the adoption paperwork.

The immersion began the next day.

We communicated using some basic words of English that Abigail had learned from us in China, a few words of Chinese, and lots of pantomime. I'm sure that someone who didn't know the situation would think we were some sort of nutty family, speaking unintelligibly and gestulating wildly to each other. A few times while trying to communicate something, Abigail motioned for a piece of paper, and then wrote out what she was trying to say. She then pointed at the neatly written Chinese characters and looked at me expectantly. Had it not been so frustrating, I probably would have burst out laughing. I don't read Chinese any more than I speak it.

It's small wonder that she clocked in over 12 hours of sleep per night and ate more than my teenage boys. Learning a new language, culture, family, friends and strange foods takes a tremendous amount of energy.

Over the last six months she has lived a lifetime of changes and new experiences. It took a while to get her used to the novel idea of home schooling, and we are still working on how that all works, but she is making good progress in several subjects. She tends to soak up all available time and it's good that we have other children who can work rather independently.

I have noticed a big decline on available leftovers for my lunch, as Abigail will usually eat them for breakfast. As long as it's hot, she wants it. So she will have anything from pizza to lasagna to soup to pasta salad to start the day. When there isn't any "left stuff", as she calls leftovers, then she will have instant noodles. For a family that has cold cereal and muffins for breakfast, this took a little getting used to.

Abigail is fitting herself into our family and blossoming in many ways. She has acquired quite a bit of language now, and likes nothing better than to talk with people. When we put her to bed, she stalls as long as possible by asking questions and talking about nearly anything. She also is establishing herself as the family sheep dog. "Scoot!", she told Deb when it was time to leave for church. She will round up the boys when it is time to go home with a singsong "Time to go!"

She loves music, and loves to have someone read to her, especially from her Bible story book. She is the first to remind us at the end of the day if we haven't read her a Bible story yet.

We are seeing more personality come to light with each passing day. Abigail is a curious, happy and energetic little girl who loves to be around people. Our Friend family reunion in May was one of the highlights of the last several weeks for her as she was able to meet the rest of her cousins.

Our family life has actually settled into some form of chaotic routine, and we are grateful to God for bringing us this far. We may not know what the future holds, but He does, and we are content to live life the way we have been living it for the last six months: One day at a time.

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