Monday, June 15, 2009

Those Bright, Shiny Moments

In our home we celebrate Gotcha Days, anniversaries of those bright, shiny moments in China when we first held our children—when we became theirs and they got a family. Each anniversary features a cake, balloons, and a few presents, but unlike birthdays we keep them within the family since they could as accurately be called Family Days or just about anything with similar meaning. We’ll continue the tradition as long as it doesn’t seem obligatory and it has been interesting to watch how our girls have embraced their Gotcha Days as they have gotten older. Each celebration has unfailingly turned out to a big day all around and at least somewhat unique to their complicated stories; that you had to be there at the beginning to completely understand is part of its special charm.

Clara-Li, Henry, and DorothyToday was Henry's first Gotcha Day and the completion of a wondrous year. Not long ago at a series of exams with our medical team, our surgeons pronounced the results of Henry's first cleft surgeries last fall to be "spectacular" and "much better than we could have hoped." There will be more surgeries, all with challenges, but Henry's new palate has not developed the holes common in cleft procedures closing much smaller gaps. Today his new upper lip looks tighter than it really is and, important for later, its center is exactly in line with the center of his face.

His receptive language, or understanding of our speech, is age-appropriate and then some. For his part, Henry can now make most vowel sounds along with the consonant sounds for b, h, m, n, and w. He can even form some words; first the ever useful uh oh and now Ma, Da (for Dad), hat, ball, hi, bye, my, up, 'nana (for banana), and wa wa (for water). Eventually his ability to form difficult hard consonant sounds like those for k and q will determine whether he will need surgery to assist his speech by lengthening his soft palate before he enters kindergarten when we already plan more reconstruction of his nose and lip.

Henry can occasionally be as fussy and sleepless as would any two and a half year old with late teeth sometimes pushing out in odd places, malformed from the same genetic material from which the front of his hard palate was built. But he could not be a sweeter little boy; happy in his world of little toy trains, soft stuffed animals, and his family who loves him.

… So there we were, then just the four of us, one full year ago, having determinedly sped from Beijing west toward China's earthquake zone to scoop up our little Henry from the Pingliang Social Welfare Institute, as if that was the most natural thing in the world and, in every way that matters, it actually was.


Jon and Debbie said...

Congratulations! What a beautiful family! I so enjoy reading your writing; you are amazingly talented.


mumma to many said...

Henry looks so happy and yes a busy year you all have had!
It has been a pleasure to watch your family grow as ours had on the other side of the world!
I am so happy for you all.
Hugs The Kelsall Family in NZ

Anonymous said...

He looks so happy and healthy. Happy Gotcha Day, Henry!
Susanna in CA

The Montieth Family said...

It has been a pleasure to follow your continuing journey of love with Henry. What a beautiful post about your family and your Gotcha Day celebrations. It looks like Henry likes that drum! :)

KC said...

Happy "gotcha day" Henry! Andy, I hope someday between hurricanes and events at the college you can find time to compile all of your China journals into a book. It would be outstanding on every level. We look forward to seeing you, Trish and the kids in July!

Kev & Family
Monkton VT