Two weeks home

I can’t believe we’ve already been home for two weeks!! It seems like such a short amount of time and yet it feels like DoubleShot has been with us for much longer. We’re slowly finding our way and working toward being a family. This week, even though my husband has gone back to work, we’ve been creating lots of bonding opportunities. Jeff works from home so is always around, even if DoubleShot and I are keeping ourselves busy.

DoubleShot and I both enjoy Candy Crush. I downloaded a desktop version so that she can play her own game while I have mine on the Facebook app. We sit side by side and first use up all of her lives and then use up all of mine.


We’ve been playing lots of games! In Taiwan, we played hours and hours of Uno. I like Uno but I prefer the Euro style board games. We’ve discovered DoubleShot enjoys them as well!


IMG_20150815_121447Ticket to Ride


This week we tried our hand at hotpot. DoubleShot was so excited to see us gathering all of the ingredients! She took this photo of us while we were waiting for the broth to be ready.


Unfortunately, the hotpot broth was way too spicy for her and she could only eat a little bit. The past couple days have been too hot for us to try again but today is overcast. We’ll make hotpot again tonight with just a simple broth and lots of veggies, jiaozi, and noodles. I can’t wait!

Yesterday I took DoubleShot to the library. We took her last week but it was still too early. She wasn’t feeling comfortable enough yet to ask for anything, so had just followed us around wide-eyed. But yesterday she picked out some of her own books. When we headed to the checkout counter, she grabbed my arm and gestured back toward the children’s department. I asked if she wanted more books so we headed back that way.


She picked out a ton! Between the two of us borrowing books, our library bag was overflowing. We will need to get DoubleShot her own library card and library bag for future use. The library is my favorite place in the world and I am thrilled that DoubleShot is enjoying it as well!


We’ve had a few challenges as well. When DoubleShot started warming up to me, she started getting aggressive. She’s very exuberant and energetic. When she wants my attention, she yells “hey!” and will grab my arm or punch me in the shoulder. She would shove me in the back or try to push me while we’re walking. I don’t believe it’s malicious. I think she’s crying out for attention in the only way she knows. We’ve been reminding her to be more gentle and redirecting her hands but that was only partially successful.

Finally, I sat down and wrote out the TBRI rules from the teen video (more on that later). I labeled them as our family rules and tried to translate them into Chinese. God sent me a gift and I was contacted by another homeschooling family who speaks Chinese and offered to communicate with DoubleShot if necessary. It was perfect timing! I emailed her the rules I had translated and she corrected my Chinese.

Our family rules:
1 – No hurts. Baba and Mama will not hurt you. You will not hurt Baba and Mama.
2 – We all stick together. We work together. We play together.
3 – We all have fun.

We showed them to DoubleShot and then put them on the fridge. Now whenever she gets physically aggressive, we can point to the family rules. So far it has helped!

Our other challenge was mentioned in my week one post, trying to balance DoubleShot’s emotional reliance on her MP5 player with her need for more sleep. We made the decision to allow DoubleShot to continue using the MP5 player at night and that we would curtail usage once we had reached the one month home milestone. Hopefully, by that time, DoubleShot will be bonded with us enough that the loss of her MP5 player would be a blip in the road instead of creating a major meltdown.

Well, yesterday that issue was resolved for us. The MP5 player was well loved but cheaply made. The power button on it broke off and Baba could not fix it. He made a genuine effort, showing DoubleShot that we care about her and want her to be taken care of. However, he was unable to repair the player and it has now been retired.

We spent extra time with DoubleShot last night before bed. We read a picture book aloud (she giggled through the whole thing), gave her a snack, and just spent time laying on our bed hanging out. She calmly went to bed. I passed out and didn’t wake up until 6 this morning but we never heard her moving around or crying. I’m headed downstairs in 15 minutes to wake her up for the day and we’ll see how she does today.

Overall things are still going really well and we love having her here! We’ve had challenging moments and moments of pure joy. My favorite moment this week was Tuesday night when DoubleShot and I lay on my bed while chatting with a friend on FaceBook. DoubleShot likes to send a bunch of stickers in the chat window and my friend is so awesome that she spent time sending a bunch of stickers back. DoubleShot got a huge kick out of that, especially when I let her take and send my friend several pictures. DoubleShot tried to get me to take a selfie but I insisted that she be in the photo as well. Here’s the resulting photo.


This is the first photo of DoubleShot and I where she is smiling without being prompted by the photographer. Genuine laughter!! It completely made my day.

My little sonar

A couple days ago, DoubleShot started doing something interesting. Quite frequently, she calls out to us. “Hey!” Sometimes it’s loud, sometimes quiet. It’s frequent. “Hey!” We respond back with another “hey!” Back and forth, back and forth. We’ve turned it into a game. I’ll raise or lower my pitch, sing the responses, “hey, ho, hi, hehehe.” She’ll respond back the same.

My husband jokes that she’s turned into our little sonar. Ping. Ping. Ping. “Are you still there? Are you available? Are you paying attention? Do you hear me? Am I visible? Now? What about now?”

Yes, dearie. We hear you! We are here for you! Yup, still here!

It doesn’t matter if we’re at home or out. She does the exact same thing. I am so grateful that I’ve been praying for patience. Before DoubleShot, this kind of behavior would have driven me up the wall. But God has given me a gift and I am able to respond with kindness.

On our walk on Sabbath, Jeff and I even started voicing the meaning behind the behavior when she pinged us. “Yes, DoubleShot, we hear you.” “Yes, we are still here for you.” “Yes, we care about you.” I’m not sure how much she understands, but hopefully some of our affirmations are getting through.

One week home

We have officially survived the first week home!! It’s been an adventure with both ups and downs, though overall I’d say things are going well.

We are still not on a regular sleep schedule, though we are working toward that. DoubleShot is either still on Taiwan time or is forcing herself to remain on Taiwan time. She owns an MP5 player that she uses late into the night. We’ve debated taking it away from her or restricting use but at this point we’ve decided to let her keep it. She’s definitely using it to comfort herself with all of the other changes going on.

We are slowly moving up both bedtime and waking. When we first came home from Taiwan, we were going to bed around one or two in the morning and waking up at one or two in the afternoon. Now we are in bed with lights out by 11:15. Jeff and I wake up about nine in the morning but DoubleShot has to be dragged out of bed. Yesterday I woke her up at 11:30. Today I’ll wake her up at 11. We are hoping that getting her out of bed earlier will force her to fall asleep earlier. If she doesn’t start getting more sleep, we’ll have to reevaluate her MP5 nighttime usage.

At this point, everything is about bonding. When we did all of our pre-adoption training and research, Jeff and I decided that we would focus on bonding first and foremost. A lot of “issues” will work themselves out once we have that bond to draw from. Without it, we are just caretakers. So far, DoubleShot does not know how to ask for anything. She may not trust us to meet her needs or she may not have the confidence to ask. I am not sure of the root cause, but I have noticed she asks for nothing. With connection, we will earn her trust and give her the confidence she needs to know that she is important to us. Her opinions and thoughts and dreams matter.

I’ve had another thought floating around the past couple of days – I now completely understand why parents post on adoption boards and are panicked about English acquisition and schooling. At one week home, our communication is limited to grunts, a few simple English words (mostly interjections), and very little Chinese. One day earlier this week, DoubleShot and I were having some short back and forth dialogs in Chinese but she’s since clammed up. I can see why parents panic about both English and schooling. “Why isn’t my child trying to speak English yet? How in the world am I going to educate her by the time she’s 18? There isn’t enough time!!”

I have had to stop and remind myself that we’ve been home a week. No, she’s not speaking English yet. At this point, I’m trying to get her to speak at all. But we’ve only been home a week. I know conversation will come. We plan to homeschool DoubleShot. Again, at this point, homeschooling is not really an option. We have to build DoubleShot’s confidence levels so that she will start communicating with us on some level before I can teach her math and science and other life skills.

Bonding, bonding, bonding. It’s all about the bonding.

Emerging English?

Our daughter has been mostly quiet for the past couple of days. By “quiet,” I mean she’s not using her words very often. She makes plenty of noise! But yesterday we received a voluntary Chinese sentence – “不要!” This was in response to telling her we’re going to the park – “Don’t want!” I’m glad she felt comfortable enough to tell us that she didn’t want to go but that didn’t stop the outing.

We’ve also heard a couple new English phrases:
“oh no”
“hurry up”
“oh my…”

Apparently I was taking too long with my turn at the game so she was urging me to “hurry up.” So amusing. As a side note, she does know some English; she had English tutoring at her orphanage before adoption. I’ve never told her to hurry up! I’m not sure how much English she knows, but assume that she’s like my Chinese skills in that her receptive skills are much better than expressive. I’m also assuming that she doesn’t want to use English yet until she’s confident that she’ll be understood.

It’s interesting to recognize that my own feelings mirror that of so many other parents. We’ve only been a family for eight days; we’ve only been home for five. And yet it feels longer than that. We’re slowly finding a routine, even knowing that baba goes back to work on Monday.

DoubleShot is still sleeping. We’re waking her up earlier each day, trying to nudge her toward a normal wake/sleep schedule. Yesterday I woke her up at 12:45. Today the goal is to have her out of bed by 12:15. I’m hoping to make it to church this weekend, which starts at 11:15. I’m not sure if that is within reach or not!

First few days – a photo post

I understand now why bloggers disappear right after picking up their child. It has been a whirlwind! DoubleShot has been with us for six days and today is day three at home. For now, I’m just going to post some photos and will hopefully be able to write a real blog post soon.

First photo with all three of us

Later on day one – in front of the orphanage

Day two – Tainan Confucius temple

Day two – Baba and DoubleShot on the bullet train back to Taipei

Day three – Hello Kitty Cafe – she wasn’t really a fan!

Day four – Visiting Taipei 101

Day four – Dinner at Swensen’s

Day four – Headed home

Day five – Jenga, a huge hit!

Overall, things are going really well! We are so blessed to have her in our lives!