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!


Life is Good

12/27/12 Can't believe it's been over 2 months already since bringing Braxton home! Time sure does fly by. It's been a wonderful time of bonding with Braxton - he is a precious little boy. He loves every minute of every day. He loves to smile & interact. He's picking up new signs all the time and communication is going well. He seems to love us as much as we love him, and he shows us by showering us with smiles, hugs & kisses. He gets along really well with all the kids. Sometimes when Ben goes to bed later than him (they share a room) he sleeps in the spare bed in Brinley & Bayla's room. He loves to play with the girls, and he is afraid to sleep alone. He cooperated for all of the many evaluations needed to qualify for our county's deaf education program. The IEP team & principal/faculty involved all fell in love with him! He finally started school last week and he loves it. He really enjoys the bus! Even though his age says 9 on his papers, his doctors don't think it's accurate. He was only 39 lbs & not on the growth chart. His features just don't look like a 9 yr old. The pediatrician ordered a bone age test & the result said his skeletal age is 7 yrs old. The test can have a deviation of up to 9 mths, and growing up in an orphanage can affect growth, due to lack of good nutrition & stimulation. The dentist & orthodontist estimate him to be around 8. We also agree that he seems more like an 8 yr old. We're not sure what to do about it & have made a couple of calls, but no leads on what to do. It would benefit Braxton if we could change his birthdate back a year. His orphanage guesstimated his birthdate when he entered there, and his China paperwork wasn't created until 2009. He's also had all of the screenings/tests to see if he is a candidate for a cochlear implant, and he is! If he is in fact younger, then that is a benefit for implant success. They fit him with temporary hearing aids, mostly since it's an insurance protocol. The surgeon said with his severe hearing loss, the aids won't be of much benefit to him, but he can practice with hearing the amplification, it just won't be clear or very usable sounds. He liked them for about 10 days and then didn't want to wear them. I think the molds that fill up his entire ears bother him more than anything. He also has pointed out to us that it is not like Ben's. He wants what Ben has. There is also a little boy in his class that has bilateral cochlear implants. This little guy is only 6 yrs old, and Braxton is smaller than him. There are only 4 children in the elementary class for the deaf, including Braxton. The class is for kindergarten through 5th grade. They placed Braxton in 1st grade for now. His educational testing revealed only very basic math skills. He was able to read Mandarin & successfully matched up several phrases (in Mandarin) with corresponding pictures. He's super smart and very focused. So far, he's doing great in school and LOVES when I sign his agenda every night, just like I do for the other kids. His teacher writes a summary every day and it always says that he is a joy. He's motivated to learn. His surgery is scheduled for Januray 4. It is quite soon after coming home, but he has transitioned with such ease and has truly bonded already. The surgeon told us that if we are wanting to implant, not to wait - due to his age. Braxton is counting down the days for surgery, just as he did for starting school. He marks every day off in his calendar. We of course are nervous, as we were with Ben. It is intricate & amazing surgery. Ben did wonderfully & hopefully Braxton will too. The medical team puts us at ease by telling us that most children do great. Here are some pics of his homecoming & some others too...(click on 1st picture for slideshow)

Orphanage visit & more...

Today was quite an experience. Our trip to Zhongshan was so interesting in many ways. First of all, the transportation there & back consisted of taxi's, subway rides, and high speed train. The first taxi was going over 100 mph (it's in kph, but I am sure) on the highway, just weaving in & out. I was totally shocked & then became scared & asked the guide to tell the driver to slow down. We had several subway rides & the high speed train (that was nice). So, the transportation was interesting in itself! We started off by meeting Ms. Zhong and she walked us next door to the school for disabled children, where Braxton attended. The school is right next door to the orphanage. We spent a lot of time visiting Braxton's class & meeting with his teacher. She and the whole class were so happy to see us. She was very inviting & we sat down and chatted through the interpreter. Braxton was by far, the smallest boy in the class. I asked why some of the other boys looked so much older/bigger and the teacher said it's because some are behind, or entered school late, etc. They're not all the same age, but they were all in the 3rd grade. Braxton hugged his teacher & seemed happy to see the kids, although the boys were very rough-type and a few times I saw another boy push or hit Braxton & he smacked right back. The boys were pretty wild, although the girls seemed sweet. I didn't see Braxton sign at all. I had been anxious to see how much sign he knows when with people whose signs are familiar. Nothing. The teacher said he does not sign, that he understands, but does not express himself. He participates in the work, but no signing. I even asked if perhaps he signs during playtime, when not in the classroom setting. Nope. She's been his teacher since he started school there at age 7 and nothing. I am very perplexed by this because he is EAGER to copy our signs and is leaning ASL already. It seems like he craves our communication. It's like he's been waiting all his life for us to come and for him to begin everything new. He already trusts us. He reciprocates affection & laughs and smiles constantly. Maybe he was bullied all the time? Maybe it's because no one in the orphanage could sign with him. This is a mystery to me. The teacher said that when he first started school at age 7, for at least 1 month, he was totally shut down - no participation. We then went next door & visited the orphanage. I checked on 4 little ones that are waiting there for their families to come. It is heart-breaking to see so many babies and children that are without the love of a mom & dad. I wanted to scoop up those babies and love on them. We arrived during naptime. Even the bigger kids take a 2 hour nap after lunch. When it was time to leave the orphanage, Braxton waved goodbye with a smile, and never looked back. He hasn't cried once with us - I see no grieving at all. The only wimper was when they gave him his TB shot (he's negative by the way). He's playful, smiley, funny & communicates very well with us. His laugh is so funny, kind of like an inhaling laugh that babies do sometimes. He likes to clean up the hotel room & likes to be the one to open & close the room safe & he even cleans dishes & cups we use in the hotel. He brings me the cleaned items & shows me with a big smile on his face :) I have no doubt in my heart that this little boy is my son. God's plan is exactly right. I have to admit there were times in the last 10 months that my faith collided with my fear. All I can say is that Faith conquers fear. That's God's promise. Captions are a little messed up - will have to fix later! High speed train ride Crazy taxi! School for disabled children Visiting Braxton's class Wash up area in cafeteria Cafeteria Braxton's class Walking up to orphanage So excited to hand out candy to friends To baby room to check on 4 sweet ones waiting for their families So many many children I just want to pick them up & cuddle them! Now off to see the bigger kids Braxton handed out candy to all the kids Braxton's bed Last time to climb down from that bed His best friend (he's getting adopted!) Buddies Me and Ms. Zhong (one of the directors) Braxton's finding spot..where he was found before entering orphanage Excited to get back on the train & leave Back at hotel & walking down to McDonald's for dinner Happy boys!