Welcome to our story...

God has richly blessed us with a big, fun family...
We have 10 children... 3 homegrown & 7 born in our hearts!

Blake... our oldest is 25 and has a heart for the Lord. He enjoys; church, family, mission trips, making music, playing guitar & drums at church, and writing.

Brianna Faith... is 21 and has a compassionate & tender heart. She's a wonderful big sister. She began talking to us about adoption when she was 11 yrs old. She is "Faith in motion"

Brent... is 17 - he's an awesome guy! He's in highschool. He has a special heart for family and God. He loves sports! Brent loves to laugh & is full of life!

Bethany Lidia... now 15, joined our family in August 2006 at 9 yrs old. She's from the beautiful country of Guatemala. She started school for the very first time (at 9 yrs old) and is now in 9th grade. Lidia's passion is sports & dancing!

Benjamin Ross... 15 yrs old. We first saw his picture in April 2007 & came home in May '08. Ben is deaf, but his special need is that he needed a family. Ben loves making home-runs & hanging out with family & friends. Ben is from Tianjin, China.

Briella Xiyao... our beautiful 15 yr old daughter from Fujian Province, China. She joined our family in July 2009. She's always wearing a big smile! She has a passion for the deaf & very proficient in sign language. She loves basketball!!

Bellamei Ying... our Inner Mongolian princess. Bellamei is 14 yrs old and held my hand for the first time on July 18, 2011. She has melted into our big family seamlessly and it is truly an honor to be her mommy.

Brinley Grace FuChuan... is 9 years old and joined our family in July 2007. She's from Jiangxi Province, China. She has the most gentle, sweet spirit... she's an angel!

Bayla Shea Chao-Yu... our youngest. She's 9 yrs old, 5 months younger than Brinley. Bayla's from Hunan, China & came home at 11.5 months. She's bright, funny (and spicy!) We can't get enough of her hugs & kisses.

and our caboose... Braxton Emanuel Jordan - 8 yrs old? (see post below) He's from Guangdong Province and is now officially our son!

This 1 min video shows how we've GROWN!

Back home from Chapel Hill...

Ben's surgery was a success! He is recuperating nicely. He was just giddy with excitement all the way to the operating room. Today is the 3rd day after surgery and he's just been hanging out at home. We go back to Chapel Hill on Monday for a follow up. Then back on Jan 9th for the 1st activation. He is very anxious to get this bandage off his head, which will be in 2 more days. He's handling everything really great. He's a super kid. We are so thankful God paved a way for us to be his family, and for the gift of Ben getting to hear. Stay tuned for updates...

Pictures of our room at the Ronald McDonald house...


Ben thought the hospital pajamas looked a bit like karate clothes...

Bayla & Brinley playing in the waiting room at Chapel Hill Children's Hospital...

Ben in the recovery room...

Leaving tomorrow for Chapel Hill...

12-7-08
Well, tomorrow I will be taking Ben to Chapel Hill. His cochlear implant surgery is the next day (12-9). Bayla calls it his "ear-plant" surgery. He is so excited. He's been counting down the days. We'll stay 2 nights in Chapel Hill... we hope to be able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House this time, if they have space available. It'll just be me, Ben, Brinley & Bayla. Mike will stay back to work and take care of the rest of the kids. Ben's biggest question is... what sports will he be able to play? I do remember the doctor saying he should never play football, or soccer, since there is too much chance that his head could get hit. A 15 year old boy at church who also got his implant at age 11, plays baseball and basketball. He had the same surgeon as Ben. So, I'm anticipating Ben will get approved for the same... we'll see. He really likes sports, and he's pretty athletic. Ben will have his 1st activiation on January 9th, where they'll turn on his sound. I think they will start with lower frequencies at first, then we return back to Chapel Hill every 2 weeks a couple more times for complete activation. In the next few months, it looks like we will be going to Chapel Hill at least 8 times. Please join us in prayer that Ben's surgery goes well, and for his introduction to the hearing world.

Since I haven't posted an update for awhile, here are some pictures from; the fall festival at church, Brinley's 5-year old birthday party, decorating the Christmas tree, Thanksgiving, and more.

2 beautiful princesses, ready to go to the Fall Festival at church....



2 goofy guys, going to the Fall Festival...


All princesses LOVE cotton candy !



Brinley turns 5 !






Putting up the tree... Ben's 1st Christmas !!!!!!
(Lidia's retains her "chief-of-staff" position for the decorating department)




Lidia with her teacher after the D.A.R.E. graduation at school


AND A FEW PICS FROM THANKSGIVING
Blake and me...

My sister Wendy and my Mom...

Bayla with Aunt Wendy...

Bayla with Aunt April...

Ben must have taken 1,000 pics !! (well, it seemed like it anyway)



That's all for now!
Blessings <><
Lisa

School days...

School started August 25th. Even though Ben's bus comes at 6:30 in the morning, he runs down the driveway with sheer glee everday! He always prays at the dinner table every night (which is such a sweet blessing) and he never forgets to thank God for school. I was nervous about the early bus time, since he's not a morning person, but here it is already Oct 2, and he's gotten up every day joyfully at 6:00. He rides on a special bus for kids in the exceptional childrens program, although it looks like a regular school bus. There is always an extra aide on the bus, which is good because Ben usually sleeps the whole way home (45 min) and the aide wakes him up. The bus driver and aide are very nice, and seem to be hand picked to work with special kids. Ben waves goodbye to them everyday, until the bus is out of sight. I was very impressed with all of Ben's teachers, from his main teacher for the deaf, to his speech/language pathologist, the ESL teacher, and the interpreters that go with Ben when he leaves his class... like to go to recess, lunch, music, etc., where he and another boy from his class (Taylor) join a regular hearing class for those activities. Ben gets homework everyday. I'm learning a lot about teaching Ben. Since my ASL experience is only 1 year & Ben's is almost 6 months, at times we must break out the ASL dictionaries & the english/chinese electronic translator. It gets even trickier when the two ASL dictionaries have different signs! There are concepts that have seemed challenging to interpret, like subtraction with regrouping, math word problems, odd & even numbers, ABC order (he didn't know the american alphabet) and much more. But, Ben and I have gotten through it all... and in fact, he's brilliant. To my surprise, one night the teacher sent home 2 little books, and part of his homework was to read them to me. It was only a few weeks into school and I wondered, how will he sign this to me?? His written english was zero at the start of school. He's never been taught the signs for connecting words like "the" or "is"...because ASL drops all those types of words. In fact, the way Ben will learn written English is by sight. Meaning, he must remember each word by sight, instead of sounding it out like a hearing person. Well, I was impressed! I just had to video it.
video

More Miracles...

7-24-08
I just knew God had a plan for Ben. Not only is he a happy, bright, super-cute boy...not only am I so blessed because he tells me "I love you" and gives me hugs....not only did we get approved for the grant that will handle all of his hearing loss costs...but now, after seeing a top surgeon and spending 2 days at Chapel Hill Hospital, the doctor has determined that Ben can get a cochlear implant !

Ben is so excited about this. He kept asking after every test if the answer was yes. I reminded him that this is a "process" and to be patient. When we got the green light after his last test, we went outside the hospital to call Mike who was back at the hotel with the rest of the kids. Mike & the kids stayed with us through the first day of testing, but we decided staying back at the hotel and swimming was a better choice for the 2nd day, so I told him I would call when we were done to come pick us up. Ben & I walked outside where we could get a signal. I got Mike on the phone & immediately gave the phone to Ben and I told him to tell Dad "yay!". Ben grabbed the phone and did his "tarzan" shout with joy in his voice. He stunned everyone around us...and I was just cracking up :o)

So, our next appt is Sept 3rd and I believe surgery might be around October. We were hoping to stay at the Ronald McDonald house, but found out that they only allow 3 people to a room...we had 7 with us, so the Hampton Inn gives special rates to people who have a referral but can't stay at the Ronald McDonald house. We met lots of other Chapel Hill families there who had come to town for follow-ups or testing. We spent time with one family in particular who has 2 children with cochlear implants. Both parents are hearing. The kids are doing so great.

I am posting some pictures here of our trip to Chapel Hill & swimming at the hotel. Brinley's 1 year "gotcha" day was yesterday, so I just sent in her 12 month report with pictures. We had to send a family picture and we hadn't taken a new family picture since Ben came home so here's our newest family picture...it's always a hysterical challenge to get us all together!
(click on picture to enlarge)(right click on picture to print for yourself)

















...it's grueling, but we do have some fun at it !!!!!!!!

Summer Happenings...

7-13-08
Well, we are in the middle of summer and everything's going so well. We've been quite busy around here. The kids have completed 2 weeks of summer camp at Parkwood, with 1 week to go, which will be 7/21-7/25. Brianna goes white water rafting in W.V. this week on a 3 day trip with the deaf youth group. Bri has been an excellent camp counselor/interpreter. Ben completed all his testing for school. He did the tests in Chinese. We took a family "field day" trip to UNC Greensboro to check out the campus there for Brianna & to find out more information about the program they have for the interpreting/teaching degree. That was interesting and fun! It was good for Brent, Lidia & Ben to also see what college is all about. Brianna started her new job at McDonald's, so she works 2 evenings a week at the chinese restaurant and a couple days a week at McD's. Grandma & Papa Mack came for a visit...and I launched my home business, selling books, dvd's & cd's on Amazon. This week will be especially interesting because thurs & friday we will be at Chapel Hill for Ben's evaluation. We hope to be able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House. This leads me to share something that happened today...

After church, we went to McD's for lunch. After that, I took the kids to Sam's. Bayla & Brinley absolutely love going to Sam's due to all the free samples of food they get to eat! It was Ben's first visit there. He's so interested in everything. Anyway, we are in the line to check out and I'm signing to Ben, as he's helping me put the items on the belt. He helps me a lot, by the way, he pushes the cart around w/the girls in it. He lifts heavy things for me. So, the lady in front of us asked me if he is deaf. We got to talking...her little girl Jada who is 7 was with her. Jada is deaf with a cochlear implant that she rec'd at 2 yrs old. She has excellent speech & hearing skills. Well, we ended up hanging out a little after we both checked out and discovered that Jada's surgeon was Dr. Buchman, which is who Ben will see this week at Chapel Hill. We also discovered that Tiffany (Jada's mom) is also an optician like me. Jada's mom was very positive about their experience. They showed Ben how easy it is to put the processor on or take it off, and something *clicked* with Ben. He's seen people at Parkwood with implants, but none of the kids his age have one. I think he kind of understood what it is, but today he was more interested. Maybe since I told him he's seeing the same doctor as Jada, he had a heightened interest. He asked me if Jada was really "talking" to me. I explained to him that Jada is deaf like him, but with the doctor's help and with the implant, she is able to hear & speak. He looked at me and signed "I want that". I also explained to him that some people cannot get the implant, like one of his friends at Parkwood, and that's okay too, because deaf people are beautiful. So, as we're walking out, I asked him what would be the first thing he would want to hear if he is able to get one. Here's what he said... fireworks, a balloon popping, the dog barking, watching a movie with sound, lightening, a baby crying... he seemed so excited. I need to try to make sure he understands that we need to be happy with whatever God's plan is for him. We have been so very blessed again... we have been approved for a NC state grant for Ben's hearing needs. This is SO big. This grant will cover all of his tests this week. He'll see Dr. Buchman after his full audiological workup. He'll also have an EKG, an MRI, and an ABR. If they determine he's a candidate and we go the implant route, it will cover the surgery & equipment, which I've heard is maybe 70-80k. Our health insurance may provide some coverage, I'm not sure yet, but whatever isn't covered, the grant will take care of. I'm so grateful for God's provisions.

In closing, here are a few pics from camp this past week. Look at Ben in that soldier pose...last week at church we had God Bless America Day, and it was so awesome. Ben told me he wants to be a soldier. I learned later that he cannot join the military due to his deafness. I learn something new everyday. Anyway, he sure does look serious about his pose! {click on pic to enlarge it}