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November 2007

Wow! I missed the October update! Time is indeed speeding by since we've added one more tiny busy body to the mix. Since my last update Jude has continued to settle in well. His love for mama has expanded to include daddy now and a select few of his siblings, but I'm not going to name names here :) It's awesome to see him embracing his baba so lovingly... when Chris comes home from work, Jude can't seem to squeeze him hard enough, all the time saying "baba, baba". Truly a blessing to witness.

Some of the biggest changes we have seen take place recently are in the speech department. Boy, does this little man like to TALK! And there is always a purpose when he says something, no silly babbling for him. He is adding new words constantly, always functional words and he has just recently begun to put his first two word sentences together! The first time was the other day when he and I were playing on the bed and I was feeding him a drinkable yogurt through a straw. He loves to make up little games so he was having me put the straw in my mouth and then he'd try to pull it out. He thinks this sort of back and forth game is hilarious and he just laughs and laughs. Soon he thought I was going to stop playing and he said (and signed at the same time) "more" "please". Not only sweet, but he has good manners!! His current list of words is as follows: mama, baba, mei mei, Velvet, horse, dog, noodles, eat, hat, sticker, hot, bath, bye bye, cracker, candy, outside, night night, please, thank you (or his variation of thank you ;)), shoes, pee pee, poo poo, balloon, book, pop pop (lollipop), feet, nose and ball. His newest word is "where" which he says with his hand held out, palm up, with a quizzical look on his face. This boy is a crack up!

Physically Jude is catching up too; but a bit more slowly than I had anticipated. Although Jude is my seventh child, he is my first experience with a child with physical limitations. I think I had been a bit unprepared for how slow and sometimes painful the progress would be. Thankfully, I think I can say with some confidence, the most difficult months are behind us. Jude was quite weak when we adopted him, lack of muscle tone in his abdomen had caused his chest to bow out and his spine to protrude. His hip flexors were very tight from remaining in a constant sitting position. His legs had atrophied from lack of opportunity to move freely. He had learned ways to compensate for his lack of strength and once he came out of his casts this all became painfully clear. We have been working with a physical therapist once a week and she has been a Godsend in both working with him and in explaining to me ways to help him at home. One thing he needs is time: time to crawl, pull up to standing, time to explore, time to play outside and time to do things that he didn't have much opportunity to do in the orphanage. Another thing he needs is someone to push him and encourage him when he wants to give up. Sometimes in PT his little legs are quivering by the end of our session, but his sweet face is beaming with pride when he gives Miss Debbie a 'high five' for a job well done. Right now he is getting much more balanced over his feet, he is learning to bear all of his weight on his own and is beginning to comprehend that this walking thing might be a bit easier than crawling! Jude is still in his boots/bar 22 hours a day, a hinderance to faster progress. Amazingly he has learned to do many things in his brace, including: climbing on the furniture, climbing the stairs, and he is even trying to stand on his own in the brace. During his two hours of 'free time' we usually let him enjoy a long, leisurely bath (one of his favorite parts of the day) and then we try to do some practice walking. The PT had expected that he would be walking by now, but due to his compensatory behaviors (hyper-extended knee, etc) it's taking a bit longer than anticipated. We do see progress every week, no one is in too much of a hurry. We know he'll be ready sometime between now and the time he goes to college :)

Jude has such a sweet demeanor. He loves to be cuddled, played with, and just generally loved on. He's quite particular about the company he keeps though and won't go to anyone that is not in our immediate family, much to the dismay of his GG and aunts. We know this is a good sign and that in time, he'll have love for everyone in his extended family as well. He does not like strangers and often refuses to even acknowledge their presence. He definitely isn't ready to be going into the nursery at church anytime soon!! He gives kisses to mama and baba without prompting and gives hugs happily when someone gets a boo boo, especially when he's the cause!

"Ball, Ball, Ball!"

Jude & mama enjoying the pumpkin patch

Readoption day!

The cutest little fireman

Loving on baba

"I LOVE pop pops!"
He still pulls his sisters' hair and hits, but it's less and less frequent and only happens when he's very tired. He still does not like to be told "no" and gets a very stoic look on his face when he feels he's been wronged. If we wait long enough to tease a smile out of him, he starts cracking up and grins from ear to ear, laughing at himself. Socially, he seems advanced for his age and I suspect that the nannies at his orphanage played with him often, if only through the bars of his crib. He is sleeping well, usually falling asleep on our bed and then we move him to his little toddler bed that sits next to my side of the bed. Often we find his best buddy Velvet laying next to him, on guard duty, of course. When it's time for bed he has to have his special pillow, occasionally a favorite stuffed dog and prefers to have mama laying close by. He was doing well going to sleep on his own until we went out of town and we've regressed a bit, but mama's happy to snuggle with her littlest until he's back to feeling secure again.

Since the last update we have celebrated some major events and ventured out on some fun outings. On October 25 we went to court to officially adopt Jude William JiaMing as our son and heir to our (not so huge) estate along with his siblings. It was a lovely day and the ceremony was so simple and sweet. The judge took some time to talk to us and was thrilled to be a part of the process to officially add our son to our family. We feel so blessed to be his parents, for almost 5 months, and now it is reflected on his official birth certificate and soon-to-be certificate of citizenship. As Anna, a friend of mine put it, "now the legal records will match the records of your heart." How true :) Halloween was a big hit with our little guy, who was dressed as the cutest little fireman I've ever seen. Thankfully he really loves hats so he kept his costume on all evening without protesting! When we first started trick or treating he was a bit anxious and was content to hang back at the curb with mama, just watching the big kids. But after a bit I decided to let him get a taste of the true Halloween experience and it didn't take long for him to figure the whole "say trick or treat - get candy - put it into bag for later" thing. He even started saying, "Treeee" when the person would come to the door! Then he'd flash that precious smile and say, "dye dye" and wave as he gripped his loot in his tiny little hand. On the way back to the street he'd make sure that his candy got into his bag and happily hold the strap over his arm. He enjoyed trick or treating so much that he never got fussy, even when he was dead tired. We went up to one house, he put his candy in his bag, his head started to bobble so I put his head on my shoulder and he was asleep before we got back to the street.

Jude has been an amazing blessing to all of us. We are grateful, on a daily basis, to be the family that God chose for Jude. We are in awe of how God has provided for Chris and I in so many ways; as we are being stretched and molded by Him on a daily basis. Parenting seven children (actually just six at home) is often a challenge, occasionally a nightmare, but always a joy. A true joy that could only come from God's hand. We count ourselves truly blessed by each and every one of our children and pray that God will bolster and encourage us to be up to the task at hand, raising our sons and daughters to be men and women after God's own heart.

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