Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Marking One Year with Ethan

Wow, just typing that title brought tears to my eyes...this is not going to be an easy one but then again nothing much really has been easy this past year.

When I make that statement, it is not a negative one at all.

Please try to imagine what it would be like to be taken abruptly from the lifeless vacuum that our boy was languishing in to the life that he has now, within the bosom of our family. You can only imagine what that would be like. If you are someone who has no concept of what it is to adopt a child from such a situation then you would think..."Hey, that kid hit the jackpot!" Believe me when I tell you, we have heard that statement or similar statements plenty of times. I guess that there is a kernel of truth in those words but it is so much more complex than that. The lifeless vacuum was all that Xiao Zhi Qing knew for over two years and even though it was not serving him well, it was what he knew. He did not know us, these strange, funny looking, strange smelling, weird sounding people that came in with their little girl (also adopted from China) to bring him home to become part of their forever family. That little girl that they brought with them only wanted to boss him around and then be very jealous of him all at the same time.

Is it hitting the jackpot to lose your birth parents at 6 months old, to be born with two severe congenital heart defects, to live in two institutions and have several different caregivers in the course of 2 1/2 years, to be severely neglected for a long time and to end up leaving the country and culture of your birth without your consent, even if for your better good? I would say that Ethan did not hit the jackpot but I would also say in all modesty that his luck changed for the better on that difficult day one year ago.

During those first very difficult days, I honestly have to say that I questioned whether I was equipped to parent a child with the kind of deficits and "autistic like" behaviors that "Ethan" demonstrated. I, along with Marc took it literally a moment at a time and my Mother, who was with us on the trip was smart enough and sweet enough to say nothing and just gently encourage me to keep going. I later found out that she was as afraid as I was, she did not want to scare me. She did not realize how scared I already was. We gingerly sidestepped any discussion that would address the fear that we both felt.

When it was time to come home, Ethan was swept up into the loving arms of family and friends who not only wanted to have him be a part of them but to support all of his and our efforts to make him whole.

He came home to begin the arduous tasks of teaching him to eat, walk steadily, regain his inborn reflexes, speak, run, jump and develop into a boy that would meet his potential.

With us by his side, he has mastered most of those tasks and is presently gaining speed on his development and speech, with the help of an amazing public preschool program for speech and developmentally delayed children.

He has developed a strong sibling bond with Katie and a true love for his big brother Justin.

He has developed a strong attachment to us over the course of the year. First to his Daddy who is his hero, and more recently to Mommy. I cannot tell you what his hard won devotion has meant.

Most importantly, he has taught us the amazing gifts of patience, acceptance, hard work and unconditional love. There is no one in this world that can infuriate me and inspire me within a five minute space of time like he can. Ethan has maddening habits brought about by his tough start but I think that his most difficult qualities are the ones that helped him to survive his darkest days and still serve him well in his day to day life. Ethan is also hysterically funny and is as cute as the day is long. Believe me when I tell you that he uses those two qualities to charm all whom he meets.

I want to take this opportunity to thank a few people who have helped us so much over the course of the past year.

First to my husband who is my rock and is steadfast in his love and nurture of me and of our children.

Thank you Mom and Dad, you have both been such a source of support to us and are devoted to the children. Dad, thank you for taking up the slack in the business while I tended to Ethan's therapies and while I commit myself to the raising of these children. I love you both so much.

Thank you to my mother in law and father in law, Brenda and Al who will drop anything and everything to watch the children if we need them and are devoted to them as well.

To Justin for also helping fill in the gaps when needed and for being such a loving and devoted big brother and to Judy, our future daughter in law, for taking on the new role of loving big sister in our family. You cannot even imagine how J and J light up the Dynamic Duo's life.

To the DD's "Honorary Grandmother", Aunt Shirley who totally loves our children and to Marc's Uncle Howard who is devoted to them as well.

To my sister, Jane who has huge soft spot for our mischief man and whose love and support I rely upon a great deal. Love you Missy Lil Sissy!

To my friend Shannon and her loving family. Shannon and Al are Ethan's godparents and are devoted to him as well as Katie. We love you guys!

To my friend Kira, who is Katie's godmother and has been there for me for the past 15years in every way possible. She is my biggest cheerleader other than my family.

To my friends, Kim, Mary and Sherri who kept me off the ledge while I was in China. Of course that is not said literally. I was not ready to jump but they sure helped me keep my sanity during some very dark days.

Thank you to my FCC South Florida Family and my blogging friends whom I love very much!

Most of all, thank you Ethan for teaching me to be more than I ever knew that I could be. You have taught me lessons in life I never even knew that I needed to learn and you along with Katie and Justin have given me the greatest gift of all....to know the pure love of parenthood.

Happy First Forever Day ~ Ethan Frederick Zhiqing!

Ethan - One Year Ago

Ethan - Celebrating One Amazing Year with our family!





22 comments:

Tamara said...

Wow Lori! What a difference a year makes. I am so glad to know that he is meeting all his goals and achieving so much.
You are a one lucky Mommy!

Candy said...

Ethan has come so far with the help of his loving family. He is a strong and determined boy. Cute as a button with the most amazing smile. So hard to believe that's it's been 1-year already. But then I think about it and remember that you were in China when Rachel turned 2. Looking forward to watching Ethan grow. Happy "Forever Family" Day!

Minouche said...

Lori,

Just looking at the pictures we can see how happy and healthy Ethan is under your love and care..:o) You and Marc have done a WONDERFUL job taking care and loving your SON unconditionally, one day at a time. Ethan, Katie and Justin are lucky to have you and Marc as parents! What a blessing to be cared and loved by people like you! :o)
Congratulations for all the progress you all have made in the past year! :O) What a beautiful family you have! You are all lucky to have each other! :o)

much love,

Minouche

Gail said...

Well this one made me cry. The profound love for your son is so obvious by the words you write. My husband and I just had a conversation about an hour ago about, "Do we get the child we were meant to have?" I think it's easy to romanticize the adoption of a child and hope it will all be easy and uneventful. The reality of it is that both of my children have helped me to grow and step out of my comfort zone in parenting and what I thought I could or couldn't do as a parent. You made a commitment to Ethan as his forever family. I always smile when people tell me that my children are lucky, when I know that I'm the lucky one to be their mom. I know you feel the same. If I was in the same room with you, I'd give you a big hug Lori. Happy Forever Family Day. You are all so fortunate and very blessed!

love,
Gail

Monica said...

Happy Forever Day Ethan!

Lori, you & Marc are amazing parents who's love, attention & determination have allowed Ethan the time & space he needed to grow into trusting you.

Will keep your fil in my thoughts & prayers.

Monica

Shari McConahay said...

Those two pictures are just amazing! I can't believe the difference when you see them side by side. Seeing Ethan progress over the last year has been a joy to watch to see this miracle of The Mischief Man unfold! When he smiles THAT smile and I see him together with his sister, I think it is obvious that YOU and MARC are the ones who hit the jackpot! : )
Congrats and Happy 1 Year Forever Day!

Shari

Angel said...

Happy Anniversary! Ethan has changed so much in a year. You all have been so brave and determined this past year. What a wonderful family you have.



Hugs,
Angel

Jane said...

Sister - I still can't believe it has been a year. Ethan is an enormous gift to our family. He is a true reminder of how important nurture is combined with nature. His capacity for love in spite of all he endured in his early years brings tears to my eyes. Here is to many more celebrations for Ethan and our whole family. Kisses and hugs to you all and we can't wait to see you soon. Missy Lil' Sissy

Tammie said...

You already know that I'm crying, & darn there are no tissues in sight.

Ethan is an amazing little boy to have come so far in this last year. Of course, he has been able to do this because of all the love & support you & the rest of his family have given him.

I'd say that the pictures show it all to the world. But I know better. The world has yet to meet Ethan. He is going to wow us all as he continues to strive under his family's loving guidance.

Happy Anniversary!

Kelley said...

I can't believe that it's been a year already! It seems like just yesterday you were waiting and waiting for Katie Starr! That was just a beautiful post, and the pictures are amazing! What a difference a year makes!

Vivian M said...

Congratulations on all your family milestones, hard fought for and hard won accomplishments and successes, and on your first anniversary with Ethan. He is an amazing little boy who has come home to an amazing family. I am looking forward to seeing more growth and changes in the coming year! And I hope you had a slice of that amazing cake!

Mary said...

Happy 1 Year Anniversary...so glad you made it (wink!)! As you and I have said many, many times: Adoption is not for the faint of heart. But as with anything that is truly worthwhile, you put your all into it everyday, taking one step at a time, and then...before you know it, you are able to breathe - things get better - and you actually start to let yourself relax and enjoy yourself. With time the once huge mountains become small hills, and we find that we have strength that we did not know that we had. Adoption and parenting are journeys and the reward is the daily smiles, kisses and 'I love you, Mommy' that we get from our sweet children.
Huge hugs to you guys!

Oh...and by the way...how do you know I wasn't trying to push you off that ledge?! Mu-ha-ha-ha-ha (evil laugh!)!

MaLeah said...

Just one look at the two photos side by side shows a world of difference in 1 year for your Ethan. And isn't Katie's hair just beautiful? It has grown a ton. I've kept up with your family since Katie's adoption. My husband and I really want to adopt from China one day. We're expecting our first birth child on 4/13 and couldn't be more excited! I just love keeping up with your blog! Keep up the good work!

M3 said...

Wow, how has it been a year already? I swear I just blinked and the time flew by. What a wonderful precious anniversary. Big hugs to Ethan and to the whole family.

Teresa said...

Wow! What a beautiful post. Crying here!

It is obvious that the love you have for Ethan is what has fueled him this last year. What an enormous change in looks he has undergone. He looks as healthy as a horse! His countenance has changed drastically too. Until you posted the pictures, it wasn't obvious. Now the pictures tell more than any words could express.

I love following you blog. It gives me someone to look up to who has already raised a great child into a man and is now raising 2 children to be great people.

Linda Louie said...

Dear Lori:

You and Marc have done such a wonderful job with both Katie and Ethan. Katie was a very easy child because she had wonderful foster care. Ethan on the other hand had nobody to love him for 2 1/2 years. When we picked him up in China, he was so sad and Katie picked up on that and took him under her wing. He has done so beautifully this past year, and this past 3 months he has been blossoming with talking and eating. The love between the children is unbelievable. The children have given so much to our family we adore them.

Love, Mom

Julie said...

Two years WOW. may you have many, many more happy ones. He is such a sweet boy I think you are all lucky to have each other to love!

kira said...

Marc & Lori, you guys are such warriors!! I know how much you have fought to get Ethan the help he needed and it is so fortunate that this wonderful child found his way to you... two very capable and understanding parents. Congratulations to Ethan too on all of his achievements... since the moment I saw him, I knew he would be ok... he possesses many great qualities and that spirit is what sees him through in challenging times. I love you guys. You are truly special people.

Carol and Taylor said...

I just adore seeing the changes that a family's love has on our kids. They're like wilted flowers finally exposed to sunshine and rain. Of course, the same can be said about the changes that loving our children has on our hearts. I'm so happy that you found each other.

Happy One-Yr Anniversary

tumbleintodreams said...

Your post made me cry. And the photo are worth a thousand words! Goooooo Ethan! I'm so happy to share our children's past and I look forward to watching all of Ethan's anniversaries. sherri

Beverly said...

happy anniversary. he is a cutie as is his sissy!! and happy bday to your first son.

Heza Hekele said...

WOW. Just, wow! A picture is worth a thousand words! What a difference one year and a loving family can make!