The Road To Ren

Our adoption journey to our son Ren William.

Musings by Elaine and other Blitherings. This blog was origonally intended to document our China adoption journey to our son Ren. Now we are home and this blog is about our family. I would love to have you sign my guest book.

Scroll to bottom to see slideshow pictures.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Day at the Zoo

We had a beautiful day at the Zoo this past weekend. The weather was gorgeous and there were no crowds! Unfortunately my picture taking was horrible and then the batteries died in my camera so sorry for the lack of and quality of pictures. We all had a blast and stayed till we were ready to drop. The kids slept very well that night. The Columbus Zoo is one of the best in the Nation and huge!

Eden feeding the Lorikeets
Posing- we are in that stage when I say "Smile" we get those fake goofy forced smiles, :-D I love these two faces!

Ren with a closeup view.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

16 Years and This Man Still Rocks My World

Mark and I have been married 16 years today and I love this man. For our anniversary he told me I put a smile on his face so he wanted to do something special for me. He said that because of this another smile would be given. So in honor of our anniversary He gave to SmileTrain!! Mark you rock!!! This is one of the coolest awesomest gifts EVER! He is a man after my heart and knows how to melt it. Thats what I call romantic.
This is us when we were dating (why do I look like a zombie here?!?!? You should of seen it before I tweaked the color, and yet he kept dating me).

This is us on our wedding day. We eloped with our children in attendance and my mom and step dad. Wow our hair has changed ;-).

We started out with 3 kids between us and he has loved my children as his own. Gotta love a man who does that!

Through the years

Mark is one of the most generous compassionate people I know. He has the biggest heart and has always been there for his family and friends. He is a good man. He is hilarious and the funniest person I have ever met. Life is never boring with him. He is extremely talented at what he does. If you need something done he is your "go to" guy. There is nothing too small like going on a mission to find a Bathtub Cabbage Patch Doll right before Christmas across the state or just helping around the house.Nothing is too big like putting together a National convention or speaking to 30,000 people. Not to mention running a National program and being in charge of a 196,000,000.00 (million) dollar budget. He gets it done.

The first group of children are now grown and on their own and in college. We are now a multi-generational family finishing up with round 2. We just returned from China with our youngest 6 months ago. Mark I love you for giving for giving me these two precious jewels and taking care of us. Love you Big Guy! You are the BEST!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A New Normal

It has been 6 months now that we adopted our new little man. SIX MONTHS!! I know this will sound trite but it feels like it has only been weeks but yet it feels like he has been with us forever. It hasn't always felt this way. Just to be transparent I will say adoption is hard. It is probably the hardest thing I have ever done. The first time was hard and a year into the first adoption I thought I would NEVER do it again. Yet here I am finished with my second adoption. I will NOT do it again, LOL. Not because it was so hard but because I feel like our family is complete and because I am getting OLD! :-D Having small children in my mid-late-whatever-40's keeps me young but also reminds me how old I really am and the need to get/stay healthy.

We all had to make adjustments. After we came home from China it was such a whirlwind of change, everything felt so chaotic. Now it feels normal, six months later a new child, a new home, a new city, new routines, we have a new normal. And it feels good. It feels good to kind of be able to do things on autopilot again. Things I took for granted before like just getting up in the morning and getting ready, or going grocery shopping now go smoothly and on time. I am not constantly ticking off things in my head to do anymore I automatically do them. OK well that might be an exaggeration. The laundries done, the bills are paid, kids are relatively clean and playing together, groceries in the cupboard, the house feels like a home, we have a new church, everybody fed and for the most part happy. God is good...All the time!

Are things perfect? Absolutely not. The house is messy, we still have temper tantrums around here, we sometimes eat junk food (OK a lot, hey Chef Boyardee in a can is the new vegetable didn't ya hear? ). Dishes get done once a day sometimes, we all can be short with one another, etc etc... and I have a long "to do" list. Its all good. Life goes on and we have so much love in our home that I feel rich. Its good to have turned the corner.

Ren and the rest of us on his 4th birthday

Friday, July 31, 2009


funny face "the warrior look"
We are still here! I know I have been missing in action for awhile on this blog. It has been nice to just get away from the computer for awhile. After the intensity of going through an adoption, coming home with our new 3 year old, traveling to another state to buy a new house, traveling back again to close on said house, then moving into new house, unpacking, and getting settled. I was ready for some down time LOL! We needed some normalcy to our lives. I think I can say we have found it and are really enjoying it.

The kids have adjusted beautifully. I had my doubts at first and was wondering if they would ever like each other. We had a rough start. I can now say with confidence that they like each other! They are inseparable and play with each other all day. Yes they occasionally have the normal squabbles but then go right back to playing again!

Ren is the sweetest little boy and we are so in love with him! He has the funniest sense of humor and is a little clown. He is talking in sentences and has the cutest Chinese accent. We are at the point where he is learning so many new words and even when he says them wrong it is hard to correct him cause its so cute. "Sleeping" is pronounced "Shleepling" by him. He sleeps through the night, all night, HALLELUJAH! When we adopted Eden she did not sleep through the night for over a year and she talked and screamed in her sleep. Did I mention she slept in our room for the first year??!! Random fact: Sleep deprivation is a common form of torture. Ren is happily shleepling in his own room :-).

I thought adopting a 3 year old was going to be harder than adopting a 23 month old (Eden). This time around has been a breeze. Our time in China with him was hard. Granted we weren't 100% having to fight our illness and jet lag while there. Ren grieved and he grieved hard through temper tantrums. Once home it was like he walked in the house and thought I am here now with my family and its OK. He is one remarkable little boy. He is very affectionate and did I tell you he loves his mommy now :-). Something he wasn't sure about while in China. For all those considering adopting an older child I would like to say yes there are success stories!! He has bonded wonderfully.

We have had many visitors since being back in Ohio. It has been so wonderful to see everyone and spend time with family. Caleb made it for a visit too and was her for 4 wonderful days. I think it was just after we moved and I still wasn't up to speed yet because I didn't get pictures of him!!! ARGH. Caleb we will take pictures at your graduation this December!

My dad

My brother Keith

Christian came for a week and met his new brother

Rachel and kids at airport waiting for her flight to Uganda, read about her trip on her blog HERE
Be sure to read her gorilla tracking post!

Monday, May 25, 2009

We Are Still Here! (and random pictures)

We are still here! Although after not blogging for over a month I wouldn't blame anyone for not being here to read this blog, LOL! We have been running non-stop since we got home from China and it has been nice to get away from the computer for awhile after being glued to it during the adoption process.

So what have we been up to? Well since we returned from our trip we were home for one week traveled to Ohio for another whirlwind week (while still jet lagged) bought a house, returned to Ohio 2 weeks later to close on it and then came back and started the moving process. I would not recommend doing this after just returning from a 2 and a half week adoption trip with a new 3 year old but we survived (somehow), thank you God.

To say we have been busy is an understatement. Ren has been amazing through all this and is the sweetest little boy imaginable. He has transformed from the little boy we knew in China. China was rough for him (and us), but now that we are home he is the happiest, funniest and most affectionate little guy! Eden who had an easy time in China, came home and realized Ren was here to stay and her life turned upside down for awhile.

I can now say they are pretty much inseparable :-). They still have the normal sibling spats but are really working things through now. They love playing together most of the time ;-).

Ren's transition has been really easy. For those of you adopting I want to write an adoption tips post soon. For now some of the details you might be interested in are at 3 and a half he has picked up English really fast. He still is speaking Chinglish but also sentences in English! He is learning phrases instead of just words like "I don't know", "hang on", "I see you", "come here". He really resisted English while in China and the first weeks home and wanted us to learn Mandarin LOL! Once immersed in English he listened for awhile and then just started using it! He loves action movies and Star Wars is his favorite. While watching Star Wars he insisted that Yoda was a baby camel. I will never look at Yoda the same way again, ha ha ha!

It took about 2 weeks for him to totally transition to EST and now sleeps through the night. He sleeps really well and still takes an afternoon nap (YAY)!

I have not seen any attachment issues since we have returned. In fact having him here has pointed out some issues we need to continue to work on with Eden. This is a good thing though, and only helps us to help Eden work through some stuff.

For anyone adopting from Wuxi SWI, I would like to say that I feel they take wonderful care of the children and it is a wonderful facility. I was wondering how much they really worked with the children and if they had much pre-school. I think they did seeing how much Ren already knows. I would like to say that Ren was in foster care during the weekends and maybe nighttime. I think this made a huge difference for him. I found out that he went home with a young single girl who took a liking to him. I do not know all the details. What I do know is that there is NO organization that sponsors foster care at Wuxi SWI. Foster care there is strictly on a volunteer basis and there is no funding for it. I believe that people ask to foster children they have a special fondness for and the SWI allows them to foster them.

Ren and Eden at Grandma G's house

Eden in dance class

Bathtub fun

We took Rachel, Eden and Ren to the C*le Br*ther's Circus and had a blast. Eden and Ren rode the ponies and loved it.

Here is the human cannonball getting ready to be shot out of the world's largest cannon at and I quote "at 16 G's" !!! hmmmmm I think he would of been shot out of the tent at 16 G's.

Sneak peak at the new house. We weren't going to buy new construction, but we got a builders incentive percentage rate of 3.8% !!

My snuggle bunny

Rachel has been home from college before she goes to Uganda. She has been a huge help through all the craziness here. I have been helping her get set for her trip and bought her some gear for her trip. I couldn't let her go gorilla tracking in her Chucks!! Here is a picture of her in her jungle attire. (OK maybe she won't be wearing all this he he he he). Follow her trip on her blog HERE.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Update on the Home Front

Things are going remarkably smooth here. You would think Ren has been living here all along. Oh I know that we still have adjustments and we are continuing to bond, but the changes have been swift and amazing. God has really blessed us.

Ren does not particularly like nap time or going to bed, but he has begun to let me rock him to sleep! He is an extremely sweet and affectionate little boy! He has now accepted me. I guess he just needed time. And why not, I was a complete stranger to him at first. Now I get hugs, kisses and smiles that would melt anyones heart (all day long)! He snuggles in now when I hold him instead of being stiff and pulling away.

Mark went to work yesterday and he hugged and kissed him and waved goodbye to Ba Ba and he was fine the rest of the day. Mark also got a HUGE reception when he came home, complete with squealing and jumping and more hugs and kisses!

Today Eden goes back to school. This might prove challenging to me. He is an active little boy who loves to play and he will be losing his playmate. We will see what happens. He is really pretty easy going. We still have some melt downs over the fact that he has lost his ability to communicate with us, but he is starting to use English now. Yesterday he asked me for an apple in English! I think he understands a lot more than we realize. He is a smart little boy.

Eden is probably having the biggest adjustment right now. She has to share mom and dad and all her toys. This has been a little hard for her. I think being back in school will help. She loves school and I can bond with Ren while she is there and focus on her when she comes home.

On another note Ren went #2 on the potty yesterday. We made a big deal about it. I don't expect this to happen all the time but hey, this is a huge step! At least he tried and wasn't afraid of our western toilets. For those of you who are wondering what is NOT a western toilet I am posting a picture of the toilet Mark took at Wuxi SWI. The smaller children also use small potty chairs. Here is a picture of what we call a squatty potty. The blue tile is the floor.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Eden and Ren in GuangzhouMark's beautiful birthday cake. It tasted as good as it looked too. The numbers are backward LOL!
Sweet Kevin with the most adorable cheeks!

The blue legs are Ren's. Trying to get the kids to pose for traditional red couch pictures.

Ren posing with Eden and his best friend beautiful Su Su!

Red Couch picture.

Family Red couch picture.

We are home and we are happy!! I am sitting here typing this while my 2 littlest, Eden and Ren are happily playing Lego's! they have been building things and chattering happily for the last hour. Yes we have our very normal "he's not sharing!" spats and sibling rivalry stuff, but it is all normal stuff and then they are back to playing. They are pretty much inseparable!

Our trip back home was very uneventful. We left Beijing at 6:30 PM so the kids fell asleep at their normal bedtime and slept the rest of the way home! The jet lag has not been that hard this time (hallelujah!).

So how was our trip in China? It was hard but VERY worth it :-). It probably wouldn't of been so hard had we not gotten sick. Dr. Gong met us in Nanjing on gotcha day and was a lifesaver for us! He is a wonderful man who comes and sees the children when you get them. He also checked Mark and I out and brought back Rx meds for us that saved us and our trip! Kudos to Dr. Gong!!! Anyone meeting him will love him.

I must say that adopting a 3 and a half year old was quite a different experience than adopting a 23 month old (Eden). Of course every child is an individual and every experience will be different for everyone.

So in the spirit of keeping this blog real I have decided to share some of my feelings. I am normally a very private person, but I feel sharing my feelings with anyone who is about to embark on an adoption trip for an older child or toddler might help. I knew it was going to be hard, and it was. We had a easy "gotcha" moment but the first week was tough. Ren bonded first to Mark and wanted nothing to do with me. This is quite normal, but it still hurt after waiting over a year for him and not being able to hold and cuddle him like I wanted to do. Mark took over the parenting duties the first week and was AWESOME with Ren. He was so patient with him (but maybe not so much with the locals, he he he).

He had many melt downs and huge temper tantrums. In public I might add. In China staring and pointing are not rude. It is just a cultural difference. So being out in public with your screaming child while everyone is taking notice is a bit disconcerting. Especially when they are pointing or video taping you for their amusement (yes this happened). We learned very quickly to just stick close to the hotel and to ignore the staring, these people are not being malicious.

When we first met Ren and during most our trip he was bouncing off the walls, sometimes literally :-). We had thoughts of "what have we done??" during our first week and was sure he was hyperactive (just keeping it real people). I can say with certainty he is not hyperactive. One of our Directors of our adoption agency gave us very good advice. She helped me realize that during the adoption transition sometimes these children's brains become very overstimulated because of the changes in their lives. I would agree that this is exactly what Ren went through. Now that we are home he is a very different child. He is cuddly (with me too, YAY) and very relaxed. He has a very long attention span now. So for anyone adopting from China, your first 2 weeks may not give you a good picture of your child's personality! Hang in there and wait! 2 weeks is not enough time to see the real child. We are probably in a "honeymoon" period now and I'm sure we will be tested, but really now, he is a typical 3 year old :-D.

The first two weeks were a transition for Mark and I too. There were a lot of moments of stress and times we just had to use humor to get through things. So how do we feel now? Sometimes the most rewarding things in life are the hardest things to do. We are blessed with an adorable sweet little boy who we are in LOVE with!!! We will never forget our time in China. We traveled with AWESOME travel mates who were so supportive and wonderful! Love you all and miss you too if you are reading this!!!

Thank you God for Ren and for bringing us home safely!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Packing up!

We have started packing up today. We fly to Beijing tomorrow afternoon and have a 5 hour lay over (yippee). Then we fly straight through to DC. We are ready to go home. It will be nice to sleep in our own beds and eat home cooked meals again.

Today we go to the American Consulate to take our oath, get Ren's Visa and final paperwork. It is now off the Island so we take a bus and it will take up most of our afternoon. Then we come back and take the traditional red couch pictures at the White Swan.

Every day has gotten a little easier with Ren. He is pretty much a wild man :-D! He is starting to understand more and get frustrated less. He will listen if he knows what we are saying. His temper tantrums are now only a few minutes instead of lets just say a long time. He is a very sweet, compassionate, and smart little boy. We just love him and know it takes time for all the adjustments to happen, his life has changed so quickly in the last few days.

Thank you to everyone for the well wishes and comments! I loved reading them. Eden really enjoyed all the comments from Mrs. Faulwell and her class at Jenifer Elementary. Thanks again and sorry I haven't had time to respond to all of them but they meant so much to us!

Monday, April 6, 2009