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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tongginator Day

Three years ago today, on a blustery and drizzly February afternoon in Nanchang, five Bethany families met their precious daughters from the Tonggu SWI in Jiangxi Province. We felt so very nervous -- construction projects in the hotel kept us on edge as we waited for the arrival of our daughters. When you're tense, banging hammers can sound very much like banging doors! Then the girls arrived -- first Erie, then the Tongginator, next Jo-Jo, then Toes and finally Red Fish. And the family love stories began...

In March, the Tongginator will celebrate her fourth birthday. She's so much herself and yet so different from the tiny, developmentally six-month-old baby we met three years ago. During this time with us, she's overcome tremendous hurdles to become the "big girl" we now see before us. She, and all of her China Cousins have tremendous spirits that we can only watch and admire.

Our Tongginator is such a wonderful blessing in our lives.
It has not all been red threads and ladybugs (which is a whole other post), but it's felt right. I couldn't say this three years ago, but now I can -- our daughter is healthy, happy and secure.

She is also beautiful. She is also kind. And she is loved.

Ten Lessons our Tongginator learned these past 3 years:

1. love makes everyone feel safer
2. Momma and Daddy will always be there for her, even in the middle of the night
3. how to move independently: roll, crawl, walk, hop, climb; and even to run, to dance and (as a work in progress) to swim
4. how to express herself -- sharing her thoughts and even identifying and labeling her emotions: first with facial expressions and sounds, then sign language, then words, later with songs, and now sometimes even with just a look in her eyes
5. healthy food is always available and helps her grow big and strong
6. Jesus loves her
7. first, that she needed Momma and Daddy for everything ... and now, not for everything because most of the time she can "do it myself" or "choose for myself" (she just entered the plaids and stripes clothing stage)
8. learning is fun, and opens up whole new worlds, but it is also sometimes hard work
9. you have more friends if you share and act with kindness
10. good manners, obedience and being polite gets you further than acting rudely or being disobedient

Ten Lessons Tonggu Momma learned these past 3 years:

1. being patient 24/7 is harder than I ever before imagined, but, when I manage it, provides the sweetest rewards
2. comparing children to other children is a total waste of time
3. placing your marriage above your children is incredibly important, and also very challenging to do on a day to day basis
4. I don't have to enjoy playing "Polly Pockets" or "tea parties" to be a good mother
5. my daughter is her own person, and I need to embrace it (hello world of ribbons, dresses, dance classes and "accessories")
6. giving to God (in time and money) is a much greater sacrifice when you have children
7. I need to get better at picking my battles
8. adoption isn't just a process before you meet your child ... it has life-long rewards and challenges that I am just now beginning to face
9. I shouldn't "become TV" for my child, entertaining her every second of every day, because that develops in her a sense of dissatisfaction and limits her personal creativity and problem-solving skills
10. this is a heck of a lot harder -- and a heck of a lot more rewarding -- than it looks


bugs parents said...

Happy Tongginator Day!!!

Donna & Joe said...

Congrats on being a mommy for 3 years now! I LOVE your list of lessons learned. The one on being patient 24/7 will be my biggest struggle, but I'm so looking forward to being a mom that not even this has me worried.

Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog post about "who's out there". It's been so much fun to connect with everyone.

By the way, your daughter is totally adorable!

Donna :)

Janet said...

What a great post....on a special day!!!

Special K said...

Happy T Day!
Good advice from a BTDT mom.