Video of Ya Nan Singing-at 8:30 on video

Our Beautiful Ya Nan

Our Beautiful Ya Nan
From the moment I saw her, I knew she had my heart...

Our Timeline

8-21-12: Saw our Daughter's face for the first time
8-31-12: Decided she is indeed a Johnson
9-17-12: Home Study Visit
9-24-12: Home Study Visit
10-18-12: I800A received
11-5-12: Walk-in Fingerprints
11-28-12: I800A Approval
12-17-12: DTC
12-27-12: LOI
1-17-13: OOT
2-1-13: LOA (China approved 1-29)
2-4-13: I800 received at lockbox
2-15-13: I800 request for evidence
4-26-13: RFE sent
5-1-13: I800 Approved
5-6-13: GUZ #
5-7-13: Cabled
5-9-13: Article 5 Drop Off
6-11-13: Article 5 Approved
6-13-13: Article 5 Pick Up
6-21-13: TA
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Sunday, April 13, 2014


What Happened to the Blog???
When I received an email from an unknown reader about missing the blog posts (thank you so much for the message and encouragement to blog again) I realized that I have left many people wondering what happened to us?! We made it to China (and home) but unfortunately, the blog has suffered the effects of my OCD. While in China I intended to blog every day so that when we returned I could continue to post thoughts and updates. However, the days in China were busy and we tried to soak up every moment of time bonding and taking in the sights and culture. Since I hadn't finished blogging about China, I felt I couldn't blog about being home! I know, it's crazy! So, I've decided to attempt to put aside my issues of chronological order and OCDness and catch up on China posts later. For now here's what's been happening since we returned home 6 months ago.

When we first arrived home, things seemed to transition very smoothly. After a couple of weeks, the finality of being in a family started to surface. As I share about our particular struggles and successes, please understand that this does not equate to regret. And although we have experienced some difficult times that we have chosen to keep private because this is ultimately Maeli's story to share, we know that God has given us such grace and blessings throughout this journey. Our good days far outweigh our hard days. Our dedication to her and our family are much stronger than the difficulties. Many times our struggles are more learning how to function as a family of 5 rather than adoption in general. Add to that we have a tween and teen in the house and it's a recipe for interesting family dynamics. However, I think that being real so that families who are walking a similar journey can have insight is important. I want to be transparent in that this journey hasn't been easy but at the same time the triumphs and victories of creating a family through adoption has been rich and overflowing.

Our biggest hurdle has been sibling cohesiveness. We are still, 5 months later, trying to cultivate positive and genuine sibling relationships. I've decided this process is going to take a lot of time... We have found planning intentional activities for the kids to do together has been helpful in teaching them to play and interact together. We have struggled with finding individual time for all the kids and that continues to be a challenge. Also trying to find time for Ryan and I to catch up, take a breather, and spend time together has also proven to be a struggle. This seems to be the case with other families and we aren't as diligent as we should be in setting aside time. This is a vital area in that needs attention as it's hard to be a team if you can't plan and reflect with your spouse. So please pray for us as we continue to work through this.

Socially, Maeli is very "Americanized." People tend to gravitate toward her because she has such a funny and witty personality. She is great at reading people and it can be scary how complex her insight is about others! Praise God she has common sense! This isn't something you can teach and we are thankful she has a sense of cause and effect as well as great problem solving skills.

Maeli's ability to adjust and persevere has been amazing to say the least. Her language really began to take off after being home 2.5 months. Her receptive language, as expected, has always been strong. We are taking great strides to keep her native language as well. She journals in Chinese, reads Chinese books (buy them in China, they are much cheaper there), and watches Chinese TV (DVDs are much cheaper in China too). It has taken time to find a healthy balance between English emersion and the familiarity of the Chinese language. Ryan and I decided that even though using a bi-lingual approach would delay her English acquisition slightly, it complimented her personality and helped her adjustment more. We know other families that chose different paths and their children did well. I think each child is different and as parents you have to decide as a family which is best for your particular child. We started Rosetta Stone about a week after being home (at her request) and that has been a great resource. We also work on basic phonetics and Frye words for about 30 minutes a day. She does System 44 at school everyday in place of a regular 7th grade Language Arts class. After being home almost 6 months, we rarely use Google translate (only for more complex vocabulary) and she is currently reading on 2nd-3rd grade level.

We try not to force English learning on her but instead incorporate games and activities that require her to use English. In addition, she has an outgoing personality which lends itself to talking often. When we arrived home she connected with a few of her friends from China and that has helped with her Chinese retention. She also goes to Chinese class at the high school three days a week.

One of the greatest blessings has been watching her experience many firsts. The first time she saw the beach and the sand on the shore will be a memory that I will never forget. She loves life and wants to experience and try new things. Seeing things through her eyes is not only humbling but gives a fresh look at things we take for granted...

Here's some photos of a few of things we've been up to: