Monday, May 19, 2014

The Journey of Adoption: Facing the Unknown

It was one year ago this month that we were in China adopting our precious, then 5 year old, little boy.  It is so hard to believe that it has been a whole year since our experience.  What a wild year we have had! Our 10 year old biological son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and it literally has rocked our world! It was not something we expected, nor planned, but God has been faithful to walk us through it and we are now on the side that is less scary when dealing with shots, and blood sugars, and finger pricks, and treating high and low blood sugar.  Our world has totally changed.  As if learning to adjust to having a new little boy from the other side of the world wasn't enough to adjust to! ;)  But God is good and faithful.

You see...something we realized a long time ago when God called us to adopt our middle daughter in 2007, is that God may call us to do things that aren't easy. He may call us to step out into the unknown, and take a leap of faith. He may ask us to walk out of our comfort zone into and area where we have NO answers or explanations...just to trust Him.  That is where we have spent the last several years.

While adoption is not an easy is a journey that I would not have wanted to miss.  We will forever be ruined for the ordinary.  We can no longer see things in life through the same eyes.  Adoption does seem scary and there are a great number of risks.  It is a faith walk.  We are so grateful to have had an amazing adoption agency, Lifeline Children's Services, to walk us through both of our adoptions from beginning to end.  We were so loved and cared for and they literally took care of every detail for us.  While we were overseas...we felt incredibly safe, contrary to other adoption stories you hear on the news. We were nervous about traveling overseas to adopt...but because of the care Lifeline took with us...our nerves were eased both experiences and we overcame our fear and stepped out in faith. We are so grateful we did!! Our lives will never be the same!! We love the two precious children that came to us through adoption.

We have had so many people ask us why in the world would we adopt from China with there being so many children here in the U.S. that need families.  We would agree with them that there are so many children here who need families.  We even considered domestic adoption both times through foster care...but our hearts were tugged toward China.  When people continued to ask us why China...we knew it was because our daughter was there, and our son was there.  Every child has a destiny and our two children from China were destined to be in our family.  That's all it is.

Reflecting back on our year....our adoption of our youngest son, and our oldest son being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes are definitely the top two experiences on our list.  Being faced with Type 1 diabetes in our child is definitely unknown to us...and very scary.  But we are so grateful we have our son with us still and that we can walk it out together.

Just like with our older son living with the challenges of it is with our younger son and daughter from China.  While we chose International Adoption based on a call we felt in our heart....It was not easy, it was not financially convenient, and it was and is not without challenges that are out of our control....BUT...we have our son and daughter now and it was so worth every minute of challenge we walked through, and still walk through to have them in our family. I'm learning in a real estate class right now that the greater the risk, the greater the reward.  I can definitely say that adopting internationally was not without risk.  We knew going into it there would be risk.  But our trust is in our God who leads us, and the reward has far outweighed the risks.  We are so grateful that we stepped into the unknown  journey of adoption and would not have changed a thing!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Three Month Update

 Well...It has officially been three months since our Gotcha Day in May! It is SO HARD to believe Shepard has been with our family for three whole months!!! We can't remember what life was like without him!!! He is SO adorable and such a sweetie!!! We actually celebrate our Family Day in July....and we always take a Family Day photo each year.  This was our first year as a family of six!!! The picture at the top is the "official" family day photo!!

This photo below is one of our "silly" pics!! :) We always do one of those as well. Shep added a little more challenge this year in getting our photos. He smiles constantly....EXCEPT when you want him to take a picture and smile!!! Thus...the silly picture below!! LOL!! He's like "WHAT?!!? It's not my fault!! " :)

How Is He Doing?
Shep is doing wonderful!! He is learning more and more  English. His speech is still difficult to understand...but we get it.  He understands a LOT though!! He can sing his ABC's and 123's.  LOVES to do that.  He also likes to color and cut things in his workbooks.  He LOVES puzzles, and trains, and stickers, and SPONGE BOB!!! He loves his Chic-Fil-A kids meal watches too!! HA....he wants to wear it every day!!!

In the time that we have been home...we may have had 1 or 2 nights where he has cried some.  It hasn't been very much at all.  And that was in his sleep.  He woke up that way.  Because of the communication barrier...he can't tell us very much of whats bothering him.  We just hold him and love on him.  It seems to work fine for him!!

He had to have a minor surgery last week and it went well.  He had a hard time coming out of anesthesia. He cried a LOT!! But after that, he was his sweet self again! He is recovering well and is pretty much back to normal!! So grateful to have that done!!

Brothers & Sisters:
Things are getting more comfortable now...and we're seeing just the normal brother/sister interactions.  Shep likes to correct A LOT!! He's pretty particular. So are the girls.  Poor Silas...He is our only one that isn't he gets told on A LOT!!! We pray for extra grace for him!! He's a good sport though and most of the time...lets things roll off his back!! But they all get along wonderfully!! Honestly...we couldn't have asked for a better fit!!! We praise God for that and thank Lifeline Staff for praying over those matches!! They matched us perfectly!!

Shepard went to his class at church Wednesday night by himself and did AMAZING!! He LOVED the music and they sent us pics of class with him dancing!! It was so sweet!! He was a little apprehensive...but when I told him we'd be in our class...he was fine!  He went in and had a blast!! That's a huge milestone!! He loved it...but he was glad to come back to us when we came and got him!!! We're so happy about beginning to get back to a more normal schedule with church!! :) We WANT him to love it as much as we all do!!

That's It!
That's all I can think of for now.  Our life is pretty much normal again.  We started homeschooling again two weeks ago. It's been going well.  Everyone is enjoying it!! Shep is even doing a few things!! I do need to get him some sensory boxes to play with as some additional work while the others are working.  But's great!!

I'm not sure who is still reading and keeping up with us...but I just wanted to let everyone know how it's going!! We are blessed...and so honored that God would ask us to bring this precious little boy to be a part of our family!! Yes...he's blessed to have a forever family...but WE are blessed forever because of it!!

Until next time!!! Praying you all have a wonderful weekend!
Mark & Buffi

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Baby Steps

It's been awesome to watch Shepard become more and more comfortable with his family and new home.  He is a fairly agreeable little boy...not much correction has to take place at all!! He is SUCH a sweetie!! 

There have been a few neat things we have watched take place that has shown a lot of growth and attachment to his new family and home.  

One of the very first things we noticed were important to Shep were his shoes and ALWAYS keeping them on.  He was very diligent to make sure if he got on the bed or furniture...he neatly took them off while he was on the bed...but as soon as he got down...He IMMEDIATELY put his shoes back on and did not want to walk around without them.  This continued as we got home.  He did not want to go outside with out his tennis shoes or Crocks.  He wouldn't even walk around the house without shoes.  Well...over the last week or so...we have noticed him walking around the house completely barefooted...and not caring!! He doesn't even notice it!!! He even will go without his house-shoes once he has had a bath.  

For us...this just shows he is much more comfortable and feeling more at home.  We love that!!! I love it that he will take off running in the back yard to play with his "Gu Gu" (Big Brother).  He's even loosing a little bit of that obsessive need to make sure they are neatly lined up and in place.  Which...I really liked that quality!! LOL!!! Sharing a room with his brother will loosen his neat streak up really quickly!! HA!! This is a wonderful baby step though!!

Mark has noticed that when Shepard sits in his lap...he will now relax and rest his head on him.  Before, while we were in China, Shep would sit with him...but he would not rest and just completely relax.  Now he does that. It is another small baby step of feeling comfortable and trusting.  :)

He is slowly making wonderful connections with Silas!! YAY!! Silas has been working very hard on relationship building and it is the most precious thing!!! Shep wants to spend more time with Silas and even ask for Silas to help him some!! This is good!!! Silas has introduced him to Xbox 360 Kinect and he LOVES the golf game.  He thinks it is so fun!!! And just tonight...I caught this cute photo of them sitting together like buddies watching his favorite kids worship music!!! Definitely a baby step in the right direction!! 

We've made it to church three weeks in a row.  Shepard is NOT open to going into the childrens ministry area right now.  We are ok with that.  We have been taking him in with us to the sanctuary.  Today..he actually made it through the service a little longer than normal.  He cannot wait to go and pick up his big sisters and big brother so we can go home!!! He LOVES to leave and go home.  But he wants us ALL to be together.  He doesn't understand if we aren't all together.  Very sweet!!! But he does great when Mark has to go to work or one of us have to be apart from the rest.  He just likes it when we are all together!!! This is definitely great steps in the right direction!!

Over all...Shepard has made this transition very beautifully.  Our thanks definitely goes to our Heavenly Father for this...but also to his foster parents in China.  I know it must have been very hard for them to let this sweet precious boy go.  But the years they poured into him...are not wasted!! Those years have laid a wonderful foundation in his sweet little spirit to attach and bond to his forever family.  It's difficult not knowing his whole story.  But we are blessed that the rest of his story will be lived out so we can see all the mighty things he will do for our Lord!!! We know he will truly "shepherd" many people into the Kingdom of God!!!

We visited our pediatrician here...and he was amazed at how healthy and wonderful Shep is doing.  We do have to visit a specialist early in July for a minor surgery.  The doctor couldn't believe that was all we were looking at!!! He was very impressed not only with Shepards health but his intelligence.  He even noted it was God that placed him in our family so he can fulfill all that has been destined for him.  Such a blessing to have doctors like this!!!

That is basically all the info we have for now.  We are beginning to find our new norm...and it's busy...but I wouldn't trade it for anything!!! God is so faithful and we are thrilled we stepped out in faith and said YES.  God is good and we look forward to all He has in store for our future!!! 

Until next time...Hope you all have a wonderful week.
Mark & Buffi

Thursday, June 13, 2013

One Month Ago Today!!

At the pool and this is what Shep wants to play with!! He LOVES music!
I can hardly believe that this precious little face has been with our family for a whole month!!! My how the time flies!! He truly is the most precious little boy and the perfect fit for our family.  God SO knows what he is doing!! ;)

As a family we are finding a new normal!!! We are all learning to adjust things back to the pre-school level.  Short bursts of activity instead of long...mid day naps where the whole house stops...and lots of ABC's and 123's.  Our oldest three are doing so amazing!! They are terrific older siblings.

We are learning so much about Shep!! He loves music (like his Mom!!! maybe a future worship leader?!?), puzzles, riding his bike that his Grand dad got him, swimming at Cha Cha's (our aunt's house), he is even starting to like our dog Pretzel!! He is a very smart, agreeable and sweet little boy.

He is very attached to his Big Sister Sophie.  He absolutely adores her.  Our social worker was surprised he wasn't more attached to Sadie with her being Chinese.  I told her...oh...he likes Sadie all right...he wants to kiss her all the time!! LOL!! He must think she is pretty!! ;)  We have to tell him Sadie is his SISTER, not a girl friend!! HA!!! Too funny!!

Shepard does like Silas....but you can tell he feels some what of a competition toward a boy.  This must  be something he picked up from being in an orphanage.  We have explained it to Silas and are working on helping him learn to bond with Shep on Shep's terms...and helping Shepard learn that he is not in competition with Silas for attention.  It's a process and we will find it with the Lords help, wisdom and direction.  They will be big buddies before you know it!!

Last Sunday we took Shepard to church for the first time...and he did wonderful!! He clung to us with his dear life...and when people wanted to see him...he was very shy...and wanted mom and dad.  For an adopted child...this is VERY good to see...especially with strangers!! It means he KNOWS who his mom and dad are and feels safe with them!! Bonding is taking place and it is a very good thing!!! He made it through most of the church service.  He LOVED the music...and after shouting out loud during the sermon....restlessness set in and Mark took him out to look around.  We have taught Shepard some sign language...and he kept giving Mark the "all done" sign...and saying Bye Bye to everyone.  LOL!! He was done!! It was a success though and we will slowly ease back into things.  We will be sensitive to his needs for sure before we just jump back in and serve.  Our ministry is our family right now...and in due season...we will know when and where to proceed!!!

One of the biggest blessings is we have had so many people contact us with interest in adoption and adopting.  What a blessing it is to us to be able to share, encourage, mentor, and support others as they pursue walking down this road.  Mark and I truly have a desire to see an organized effort in mentoring others through the process of adoption, helping families raise funds, and providing support after the adoption.  We are praying about ways to make this happen.  If YOU are someone interested in adoption...let us know and we'll be glad to help you get pointed in the right direction!!

That's it for now!!! I don't want to bore everyone with all the normalcy of life...but I do want to keep you all posted!!! I do have one prayer request....we have had several people ask us if we can do photos for them. Since we had to borrow $11,000 for the final portion of our adoption expenses...we do not want to say no...we want to say yes because we do NOT want to be in debt.  Pray that we would find the best way to do these photos without being separated from Shep...and to where we can raise the rest of the money we owe for the adoption.  We sure appreciate those prayers!!! We know God will give us wisdom.  We just want to be sure we move in the right way and at the right time!!

Also...Mark has a "product" he has been working on since December and we are waiting on the first prototype to come in.  Once it comes in...we will be submitting it to some companies praying that it will be picked up for their stores.  Please pray for favor regarding this.  Maybe this would be a way God would choose to help provide as well!! :)

Thanks a ton!! We love and appreciate you all!! We will keep you posted as we have more new and interesting news!!
Mark & Buffi

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Home One Week

We have officially been home from China one week! What a great week it has been.  We have been so glad to be home and try to work on finding our new normal with four children.  We've had several questions about the I thought I'd try to answer.

How is Shepard doing? What about the language barrier?
Shep is doing great!! He is a trooper and fits perfect in the family.  He does well with change, praise God, and has a pretty agreeable personality.  He likes to keep his shoes on all the time...although...we have caught him running around barefooted without realizing it! That's great and means he is getting more comfortable!!

His "special need" was considered developmental delay and while we didn't see it a whole lot in China...we can see it here at home now that we are watching him run and play.  He is developmentally much more like a 4 year old than a 5 year old.  While he WANTS to do all the things a 5 year old would do...he can't always do it without getting hurt.  He has fallen several times while running in the yard. He has quite a few "owies" on his elbows and knees!! ;)  His gross motor skills just need a little work.  He is totally capable and there is not an inability to do things...just a delay!! We will definitely be working on that this summer!!

Language is definitely more difficult with him than it was with  Sadie. Sadie was only 3 and didnt speak very much.  Shepard speaks a LOT and just goes to town telling us something in his most urgent voice and we stare intently trying to understand.  But we don't.  All of us are using lots of body language!! :) Thanks to Google Translate we are able to communicate to him what we are trying to say and help him understand what is going on.  It's been a wonderful tool!!

We have found out several things he does not like to eat that has surprised us.  Things like chicken nuggets, scrambled eggs, bread, ground beef as well as a list of other things.  We are slowly figuring him out.  When all else fails...we get out the noodles and dumplings.  Those are winners EVERY time!! :)

Overall...he is doing wonderful!! He sleeps well.  He has slept with us in our room most nights.  He slept in his room two nights, which was great!! He woke up between 3am and 4am to come into our room...which is totally ok!!! He also takes naps in his bedroom. As long as we tell him through Google translate what is happening...he is great!! God knows what we as a family can and cannot handle!! We are very blessed and we look forward to every day getting more and more familiar with each other!!

I cannot praise our other three enough.  They have just all grown up over night it seems.  They have been a tremendous help with Shep.  He loves them and they love him!! They all three jump to help him and will make accommodations for him through this transition.  We are SO PROUD of them!!! Sophie has become like a second mom to Shep.  He loves her a ton and she is SO MUCH FUN for him!!! I don't know what I'd do without her!!!

Sadie and Silas have done great too!!! Silas has even taken on the huge responsibility of watching Shep outside in the yard for brief moments in our absence.  This is huge growth for Silas.  Prior to our trip...we were asking Sadie to watch Silas in our absence!! LOL!!! It is amazing the fact that you get what you expect! Really!! Before our trip to China...we expected Silas to need to be watched.  Now...we expect he is capable and responsible enough to help us...and HE IS!!! it has been such a blessing for him in this way!! Really beneficial in helping in grow up!! :)

Mark went back to work on Friday.  We all went in with him to show Shep where he would be when he was gone...and also to meet all of Mark's wonderful co-workers! (Mark is SO blessed to work where he does and with the people he works with!! They are such blessings!) Anyway...we wanted Shep to know what was happening and he did GREAT!!

After he has had moments around a lot of people...he seems ready to say bye bye.  He definitely lets us know.  But he has had no trouble wanting to go with Mark and me at all!! Such a blessing in this transition!!

We've had a few days off together and tomorrow starts our "official" back to normal schedule!! Praying we can find lots of things to do each day that will keep everyone entertained and  happy!!! :)

Here are a few pics of our day at the park this week!!! Again...thank you all for continuing to pray for us and encourage us through this journey!!! You all are such blessings to us!! We love and appreciate you!! Have a great week! Blessings!!
Cute little curious look!!!! 

Walk at the park

Here we are...without me! :) I'm taking the pic!

Swimming with JieJie (Big Sister)

Hair cut with Mama 

Help Nana walk with her walker

Wake up and play with Jie Jie and Gu Gu

Writing ABC's - I think?

Monday, May 27, 2013

We're Home!!

As 5am approaches this Memorial Day morning...I'm reflecting on the last few days that we have been home.  I haven't been able to blog since we've gotten home, so I thought I'd share with you our journey home.

Hind Sight...I am so relieved to be sitting here in the comfort of my own home.  The air conditioning keeping things just comfortable enough!! It's the simple things we missed while in China.  Easy Communication, Comfort Foods, fresh fruits and veggies, ice in our drinks, drinking water from a faucet, brushing your teeth with water from a faucet, Air Conditioning, Fresh Air, Good Smelling clean laundry, a yard to play in, Running room, our family and friends.

We have been so blessed to have spent the last three weeks on our journey in China...but it is SO good to be home.  Thank you so much to all our family and friends for your love and support while we were gone.  Words do not communicate effectively just how much you mean to us.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all your prayers and encouraging emails while we were gone!! And after coming many of you have been gracious to help us get settled.  You will never know what a blessing it is!!

We left Guangzhou China, Friday morning (5:30am) May 24th to head back to Alabama. Of course, this was Thursday afternoon our time.  It was crazy early to leave and hindsight...we would have rather left Thursday evening because it made for a VERY long trip home!

Our Flight from GZ to Beijing was about 4.5 hours, From Beijing to Seattle - it was about 10.5 hours. We had a 10 hour - Yes TEN HOUR - layover in Seattle, and it was brutal.  We were exhausted.  It gave a whole new meaning to the phrase "Sleepless in Seattle!" was SO GREAT to be back in America where the airport was air conditioned, and we could eat chips and salsa and drink coke with LOTS OF ICE!!! :) (again...the simple things!)

After that long layover...our flight with Alaska Air to Atlanta was a Red Eye flight.  From 10pm to 5:30am Atlanta time.  This was a pretty good flight.  Only about 4.5 hours (time zones make it look longer).  This airline was SO WONDERFUL after using Hainan Air.  Whew.... it was NOT our favorite!! :)

We left Atlanta at 8:15am and arrived home in Huntsville at 8:09am.  (time zone difference).  It was SO GOOD to land home!!! We were all so relieved to know that we made it safely through all 8 flights and while there were some close calls while we were gone...God was SO FAITHFUL to protect us!!

That made for a total of about 41 hours of travel time.  Need less to say...we were all exhausted.  Considering how tough it was...our kids did AMAZING!!! I was so blessed to watch them.  They were troopers and not one time did they complain about the travel...other than the basic...ready to get this over with! It could have been a night mare...but they did so wonderful and Mark and I were so proud of them!!

We saw first hand just how Sophie is truly growing into a wonderful young woman!! She is strong, independent, conviction oriented, loyal, and very thoughtful and sweet hearted!! We saw so many strong qualities in her on this trip!! It's amazing how she has grown since our last trip in 2007.  We are so proud of her!!

Silas was such a joy to have on this trip. While his carefree ways sometimes had us on the edge of our seats....seeing him enjoy the adventure and step up to the plate in certain ways was such a blessing.  Being a boy...maturity comes slower than with girls...but we really saw great strides in him on this trip!! He is SUCH a joy and we are so blessed to have had the opportunity to bring him with us this time around!!! We know that seeds were planted in his heart by the Holy Spirit that would have never been planted had he not gone with us!! He is going to do mighty things for the Lord - We just know it!!! We are so proud of him!! :)

Sadie got to visit her "homeland" as our guide, Michael, from Beijing described it.  How many children adopted from another country get to visit their homeland? Very few do...and we got to witness first hand God stirring things in Sadie's heart that we know will last a lifetime!! This little girl is SO STRONG...and such a trooper! She is very helpful and selfless!! She is tough and can handle so much!! Sadie provided so much help as well on this trip and we are blessed to have been able to see her experience it.

While in Chongqing...she did have a brief moment of sensory overload and broke down crying.  We feel it was a good moment and I got to love on her and just talk things out with her in the hotel room. It would have to be overwhelming experience all the sights, sounds, and smells of another country...especially...a country where you are from. was so good for her!! We are glad to provide her with the opportunity to go!! We look forward to revisiting our trip over the next few days to talk about all that left an impact on us!!

Shep...well...what can I say about  Shepard? This little boy is SO PERFECT for our family.  God truly has a plan and it is a blessing to stand back and just let HIM work it out!! Shepard is a total joy!!! He is very agreeable....light my guess would be to say he is a Sanguine personality.  You can tell he has been given his way a lot. But he is pretty quick to obey and is just a delight to be around.  He makes us all laugh with his contagious laugh!! (Much like Mark's laugh is so contagious!)

Since being home...we have found out he is TERRIFIED of our dog, a Miniature Schnauzer, and our dog is afraid of him. (We will be working on that!) But he has adjusted to his new home and family pretty good.  There are definitely hurdles we will have to overcome in finding our new normal...but we  know God has a very special plan for this little one and we are blessed to be able to help direct and raise him in the direction and ways of the Lord!!

I know this has been a long post.  But I have been so "informational" in most our posts while gone.  I just wanted to share some of my thoughts and feelings!! We are so full with all that God has done and we are excited about the future and what He has planned for our whole family.  Our hearts are open and we have no  plans other than to follow HIS leading and direction.  Our prayer is that somehow God would use us to further His Kingdom on this earth.

If there is anything we'd like our family and friends to take away from following our is that God is a good God.  He really does have a plan for our lives and He is so very faithful to lead and guide you.  We pray that you would listen to your heart and the things that the Lord places in your heart.  Don't be afraid to say YES to things you know He is calling you to do!! Step out in obedience and don't worry about the details.  Just follow his leading through the passion in your heart!! There will be ups and downs...and you may not know how it's all going to play out....but this I will find more fullfillment in following HIS will and plan for your life than doing anything else on your own!! 

It has been our JOY and honor to share our journey with you!! We look forward to watching God work to help close out the rest of this particular chapter.  Thanks for your continued prayers!!! We would never want to do this without our family and friends!! Thanks guys for everything!! We love you all!!!
Mark & Buffi

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Note To Our Family & Friends As We Arrive Home

Dear Family & Friends, 

After a year and a half of waiting, praying, longing, hoping--- little Shepard is on his way home! We are overjoyed at God's grace, but we also realize this will be a season of adjustment for our family. We know that each of you receiving this letter has-- in some way-- supported, loved and prayed for us. Because we know your care for Shepard and our family, we want to share with you some information that we hope will best equip everyone around him to assist us in laying the strongest and healthiest foundation – emotionally, physically and spiritually.

In many ways, Shepard will be like the children who entered our family through birth; we will seek to bring all of them up in the instruction and discipline of the Lord. But there will be a few, initial differences in the way we have parented in the past. 

We are confident of this: God’s design is PERFECT! His plan for parents and children is a beautiful and meaningful picture of His love for us. Attachment between a parent and child occurs over time when a baby has a physical or emotional need and communicates that need. The primary caretaker (usually mommy) meets the need and soothes the child. This repeats between a parent and child over and over to create trust within the child for that parent; the baby is hungry, cries in distress, mom nurses & calms the baby – which teaches her that this person is safe and can be trusted. By God’s very design, an emotional foundation is laid in the tiniest of babies, which will affect their learning, conscience, growth and future relationships. The security provided by parents will, ultimately, give children a trust for and empathy towards others.

Children who come home through adoption have experienced interruptions in this typical attachment process. The loss of a biological mother and father at an early age can be a major trauma on their little hearts. Shepard has experienced the loss of familiar and comforting caretakers as well as the sights, smells, and language of his birth country. When Shep comes home, he will be overwhelmed. Everything around him will be new and he will need to learn not just about his new environment, but also about love and family. He has not experienced God’s design for a family in an orphanage setting. His world is turned upside down. He may struggle with feeling safe and secure and he may lack the ability to trust that we will meet his needs. The good news is that we can now, as Shepard’s parents and forever family, rebuild attachment and help him heal from these emotional wounds.

The best way for us to form a parent/child bond is to be the ones to hold, snuggle, instruct, soothe and feed him. As this repeats between us, he will be able to learn that parents are safe to trust and to love deeply. We are, essentially, recreating the newborn/parent connection. Once Shepard starts to establish this important bond, he will then be able to branch out to other, healthy relationships.
 Shepard will have, what may seem like, a lot of structure, boundaries and close proximity to us. Although it may appear that we are spoiling him at times, we have been advised that it is best that we meet every need quickly and consistently. He may show his grief and confusion in many ways, and we are prepared to help him through it and prove that we are a forever family. You may also notice us tighten our circle a bit, stay close to home, and we may seem a little less available socially, for a while. Please know that these decisions are prayerfully and thoughtfully made choices based on our personal research and instruction from trusted adoption mentors. We will be doing what we believe is best to help him heal from those interruptions in attachment as effectively as possible. 

Why are we telling you all of this? Because you will actually play an awesome and vital role in helping our Shepard settle in, heal, and lay a foundation for the future. There are a few areas in which you can help us:

The first is to set physical boundaries. It will help us immensely if adults limit what is typically considered normal, physical contact with Shepard. This will (for a while) include things like holding, excessive hugging and kissing. Children from orphanage settings are prone to attach too easily to anyone and everyone – which hinders the important, primary relationship with parents. Waving, blowing kisses or high fives are perfectly appropriate and welcomed! Shepard should know that the people with whom he interacts are our trusted family and friends.

Another area is redirecting Shep's desire to have his physical and emotional needs met by anyone (including strangers) to having us meet them. Orphans often have so many caretakers that they, as a survival mechanism, become overly charming toward all adults. A child struggling to learn to attach may exhibit indiscriminate affection with people outside of their family unit. It may appear harmless and as if they are “very friendly” but this is actually something that isn’t good for the child. To share this is difficult for us because you have openly loved on our other children and we have loved on yours as well, and treasure that connection. Please understand that we want nothing more than to have Shepard hugged, cuddled and cherished by ALL of you. But until he has a firm understanding of family and primary attachments, we would be so grateful if you direct him to us if you see that he is seeking out food, affection or comfort.

Also, please feel free to ask us any questions at any time. We are learning, too, and are grateful that you are seeking with us to help Shepard feel loved, safe, and secure. We are incredibly blessed to have so many loved ones around us. We couldn’t ask for a better extended family & circle of friends for our precious Shepard. Thank you so much for your love and support over the past year. We are truly blessed!!!
We look forward to seeing you all once we arrive home!!!
Mark & Buffi