Can you believe that as of June 14th, we have been home with Willow for 2 months? She has been in her forever family of 6 now for 2 months and about 2.5 months since she first met myself, my husband Tyler and her brother Cooper. It feels so much longer than that and at the same time, some of it feels like yesterday.
She has come a long way even though she started out doing amazingly well with us from the beginning. I'm so grateful for that because I know that isn't always the case. When I think about how much her world was completely flipped upside down and how incredible she handled that, I'm just blown away. I would of for sure been a complete wreck. Maybe the fact that she has down syndrome, it could of helped with that transition. Although I know not all transitions for kids that have down syndrome don't go as smoothly which is completely understandable. I would imagine most kids are confused, scared and wondering who the heck is this person that I've never seen that is feeding me, holding me, bathing me, etc? Going into this process, it was best for us to expect the worst and hope for the best. So that is what we did. We were pleasantly surprised. Like almost every single day since we got Willow, Tyler or I have said, she is just So Good! She is our easiest child in most ways. For the moment ;) I definitely don't want to jinx us but I think all children go through seasons where you have more hurdles or where its just more smooth sailing. Regardless of being a typical developing child or having special needs, they all have them. Those hard seasons and those smoother seasons where you just want to freeze the stage/age they are in because you just enjoy it so much.
Lets just look at this sweet face! I took these pictures of Willow right about the 2 month mark from her family/gotcha day in China which was March 28th of this year. This is one of my favorite matilda jane dresses that Libby got to wear last year. I'm so thankful I held on to many of Libby's clothes for this sweet little girl that I knew was coming.
She loves doing the signs to different songs. She especially loves, "Jesus loves me" and "If your happy and you know it." When any kind of music comes on, she loves to dance. It's like her little body just starts swaying and moving and she just can't control it. She starts skipping around and just gets so excited when music comes on.
This right here sums up the JOY that she is. You can't help but smile and just give Thanks to God! I know adopting a child with Down Syndrome is not everyone's calling but I pray that our story creates ripple effects all for God's Glory. I pray that not only more families would open up their hearts for adoption but to also consider down syndrome adoption. Let me tell you first hand, there is Nothing Down About It. It is heartbreaking how many of these worthy beautiful and perfect children are waiting for someone to give them a home. A family. A chance. Each of them deserve it and I can promise you, you will be blessed so much more than you could ever imagine.
I love how she was so carefully collecting the flowers.
This is her doing the Jesus loves me part to the song. I was so excited to capture these sweet images of her. I know she will be grown in a blink.
Here are some more observations and different things I want to note about Willow at the 2 month mark.
What she LOVES:
Music & Dancing!
That's at the the top of the list for sure. I mean, the 2 go hand and hand right?
She loves to be tickled, thrown in the air, spun around. She can't get enough!
She could swing all day in her swing in the backyard!
This girl can eat and she gets a little HANGRY when it's been too long. She will let you know too. She is our best eater as far as eating the biggest variety of foods. She isn't very picky but if she doesn't like something, she will just throw it off her high chair. That is something we are working on.
Baths and Swimming!
She loves baths but I think she loves swimming even more. She really has no fear in the water which is a little bit scary. She jumps right in with the biggest smile, mouth wide open. I'm trying to teach her to keep her mouth closed. lol.
At first when we held her, she was just kind of dead weight and hard to hold on the hip. Now though, she wraps her legs around you like a little monkey. This girl loves to be carried and snuggled.
Willow will hug just about anybody...if we let her. We are still working on those special hugs just coming from Mommy and Daddy so she knows who we are. She is quick though and sometimes it just happens. If you give her attention, chances are she will lean in for a hug.
Remotes and Phones!
Like most children her age, she loves to get her hands on a phone or a remote. It doesn't matter if she only has the remote for 1 second either, she manages to always change the channel. lol. She has deleted several apps on my phone and sent random texts and even made some facetime calls to people. She loooves taking selfies on my phone too. It's hilarious to watch her do it.
I hope my other kids don't read this later and get their feelings hurt but she loves her some Aiden. She adores all of her siblings but she often wants Aiden the most. I knew Aiden was going to be an amazing big brother to her. Little ones are often drawn to Aiden and Aiden loves them as well. Willow just started to recently cry if Aiden gets out of the car. She doesn't do that with anybody else but him. It's really sweet!
Willow loves to be outside. Especially in our backyard because that is where her swing is and the playset. I used to be hesitant about her getting on the play set without me being one step behind her but now she goes all over the play set without any assistance. Of course I'm watching her but she climbs all the way up to the second level by herself and goes down the slides. I have confidence in her too, she does it well. She pretty much enjoys anything outside though. She loves the outdoor toys and playing with chalk. Bubbles are a big hit outside as well. This girl just prefers to be outdoors doing something.
Toys that make sounds and light up!
Right now she looooves any of the singing stuffed animals we have. She loves this trolls karaoke toy that she sings along with all the time. She also has this dancing robot toy that lights up and plays music. And lets not forget the singing alphabet toy that is magnetic and goes on the fridge. She will play with all of these types of toys for long periods of time.
Those are all things that really jumped out to me as "LOVES" of Miss Willow in the first 2 months that we have had her. She is pretty content and happy doing just about anything so there are more of course but these are what came to me first.
Here are some general subjects that I will elaborate on every couple months so I can look back, because I know I will not remember everything.
She loves food, and often shovels too much in her mouth. She isn't too picky either. However she does not like pineapple and a couple other fruits I have noticed. She loooooves Mexican food, especially beans and rice mixed together. This girl can consume a large amount of food. She will also double fist some popcorn. She is serious about popcorn, guys. LOL! She also really loves yogurt. She likes anything with noodles but she does not care for macaroni and cheese that much which makes no sense at all. Who doesn't love macaroni and cheese? ha!
She has always from day 1 slept like a champ. Sometimes she cries a little when we lay her down or sits up and starts playing with one of her stuffed animals but for the most part, she lays right down and goes to sleep. She sleeps in a pack in play in our room so when I lay her down, I stay in the room till she dozes off. When she wakes up though, she climbs right out of her pack and play to come find me. Obviously I'm always close by, either in the room or right outside of the bedroom. But if she doesn't see me, she goes right to the couch and sits down. When Willow wakes up the morning or after a nap, it takes her a good 30 minutes to really wake up. She sleeps about 11 hours at night and takes about a 2 hour nap each day around 1pm.
There is the obvious challenge of having 4 kids now and Libby not always treating her nicely, but that is more so Libby's doing. As far as challenges specific to Willow, right now we are not facing anything major. There are little things like when Willow throws her food she doesn't want on the ground (as I mentioned above) Sometimes she pushes or hits Libby (mainly to defend herself) but overall nothing is like a really big challenge yet that we are struggling with. She does love to go to just about anyone so after the first couple weeks we realized that we needed to reign her in more and keep her closer to us. I feel like she got that pretty quickly too. We encourage her to give high fives now and that is what she mainly does. She is a grabber. If are in any kind of store, she will try to grab anything she can get her hands on and she has a tight grip too. So it is those kind of things. She really does cooperate most of the time if we tell her not to do something. She is a stinker too though. lol. She will purposefully take Libby's blanket and run with it through the house giggling up a storm. Of course it's not funny to Libby but they are definitely acting like sisters. I see them playing a lot more together too than I did earlier on so that is really encouraging.
This is where she really just blows us away. Everything from how quickly she is understanding the language to her climbing up and down stairs by herself, how she brushes her teeth, her front roll overs, etc. I could go on and on. She is so so smart! I can ask her to point to her nose, eyes and mouth and she will do that now as well.
We started teaching her sign language from the very beginning. She picks them up so quickly. Pretty much after showing her 1-2 times. I remind her of signs of course so she will do it and not just whine for something. Her receptive language is incredible. She can do several things after I ask her to do something, such as throw that in the trash or go get yours shoes. She really does get it especially if it is something she hears often or just part of the usual routine. She is also speaking some as well! She says her name, Willow and its absolutely precious. Other words she says often are Mama, Night Night, Poo Poo (Yes she says that word) Bubba, Hi, Bye Bye. Oh and recently, No No! She holds out her little finger too and gets a serious look on her face too. haha. You can't help but laugh. Those are probably the most frequent words that are clear enough for other people to understand. When she sees a dog, she will say Roo Roo. Its the cutest thing. She makes a lot of other sounds too that she uses over and over for something and will try and repeat words and sounds that she hears.
She is still 25 lbs and 32.5" tall just like she was in China. I thought for sure she would of gained weight especially with all that she eats. It must be because she is so much more active now. I'm not quite sure the reason but her weight and height is the same. Her hair is definitely growing and getting thicker, that I can definitely tell.
Willow came to us immediately and never looked back. With saying that though, our love grows for her by the day. She gets more comfortable with us as time goes on and we are both just learning each other and discovering new things about one another every day. We missed those first 3 years of her life so we are playing catch up now. God is so good though because I have drastically seen the steady growth in all of us. Willow is definitely starting to understand that I'm her mama. Little things she does or looks she gives me, shows me that she is figuring it out. We are over the moon for her and I think she is pretty fond of us as well. When she reaches up for me and says, Mama, my heart just melts. She knows my name and she is starting to understand what exactly the name Mama means. That will take time. She absolutely feels like my daughter. It feels like she was always meant to be with our family. God gets all the credit too here. I remember the fluster of emotions I felt in China and lots of overwhelming thoughts I had and God has completely calmed those and shown me so much about the BIG LOVE he has for all of us through Willow.
We have had her first well appt with the pediatrician and she did awesome. All of her blood work came back normal which was a huge praise. We are so thankful for her Pedi and the wonderful resources we have around us in Mckinney.
Willow has also been to an ENT doctor and we will do a follow up again in about 4 weeks. She does have some fluid in her middle ear and it likely isn't new fluid. The fluid is causing her hearing to sound muffled so she probably will need tubes. She did okay on her hearing test but not great. She was not a fan of going in that little room for part of the hearing test so that could of been part of it. We will go back and re-check her hearing and see if the fluid is still there in about 4 weeks and then make a decision on whether she needs tubes or not. Either way, its a simple procedure if she does.
We will have some more appointments in the future but nothing immediate that needs attention right away.
Overall so far, it really is going great! After missing those first 3 years of her life, we have a lot to make up for. Lots of cuddles, tickles, and playtime. Love is what she needs and I think she is loving her forever family too. She may not realize that we are a forever deal, but hopefully soon she will. I want her to feel so safe secure and loved and never have a doubt in her mind that we wouldn't be there for her. Because we always will.
Stay tuned for a post with all of our family pictures we had taken last Sunday! I can't wait to see them all and share them with you all.
Here is a little peek from our session, that you might of also seen on Instagram! I couldn't love it more. A HUGE thank you to Sarah Hamilton Photography. Go check her out! Being a photographer myself, it means so much when you can actually be in the pictures as well. I'll go over all of our wardrobe, getting ready for the session and how it all went very soon!