Today marks one year since Caroline so bravely entered the Civil Affairs office and walked right into my arms. Today is a year since a beautiful Chinese girl named Yuan LiYun became our daughter. It’s amazing to review the last year and trace her progress, adjustment, and growth.
I remember feeling so overwhelmed and frustrated in November because continually conversing through Google Translate was difficult, and I was so ready for conversations with eye contact. I was ready to leave our awkward silences in the car far behind us and to be able to ask my daughter about school, her homework, friends, and activities. For a long time, our after-school car convos were limited to questions like this:
“Hi Caroline! Did you have a good day?”
“What did you have for lunch?”
“Do you have a lot of homework tonight?”
Caroline’s English has improved dramatically in the last few months, and she’s beginning to read books on a 3rd-4th grade level. I certainly couldn’t pick up a language that quickly! Our communication is on a whole different level now, and we rarely have to dart to the computer now for translation.
As recently has April, I would struggle to find Caroline breakfast food she’d find satisfactory. In China, they often eat dumplings or noodles in the morning. She wasn’t used to, and didn’t particularly like, common American breakfast fare. Now she’s enjoying cereal, yogurt, fruit, pancakes, bacon, and muffins. This doesn’t seem like a big step forward, but it is in this mom’s mind!
While Caroline remains very guarded emotionally, she’s begun to share more with us and even wrote for the first time in our Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards that she loves us. She’s warm and affectionate and often initiates hugs with us now. In fact, she even enjoys our “family hugs” which got started a couple years ago. It’s when one of the littles asks for a family hug and we all huddle up and lean in for a tight embrace. We might do this 3-5 times before we put the kids down. Caroline readily jumps in for these….and I’m not sure I’d say that many 13-year-olds would dig this expression of family love. 🙂
What I’ve noticed most in the last year is Caroline’s transition from spunky young girl to blossoming young woman. If you look at pictures from last summer, you’ll notice how much she’s changed and matured. (You can find links to some of last summer’s posts and her adoption video on the Adoption and Orphan Care page under the Categories tab above.) In some ways, I’ve grieved this quick growth because I missed nearly all of her girlhood. But I’m thrilled to see her grow and thrive after such a stressful transition in her life.
Caroline made this cute backpack last week during a sewing session at a creative arts camp!
I explained my blog to Caroline a few days ago and asked if she would like to write anything to share. I told her how hundreds of people had prayed for her and and followed her story, and that they’d probably love to hear her thoughts on the last year. Below is what she wrote this morning…I’ve left it unedited with the exception of a few notes I inserted for clarification.
As you’ll read below, she’s still unsure about God and Jesus Christ. She’s in a great summer Bible study, and she told us the other night that she thinks she might be ready to believe soon. We covet your prayers for her salvation. I know that my life and heart drastically changed after I became a Christian my senior year of high school. I know the healing that only God can bring about, and I know there are many wounds in Caroline’s heart that could be filled with the security, redemption, love, and peace of Jesus. I long for her to have eternal hope and for her to grasp His incredible love for her.
After reading her letter, I’d love for anyone to leave a comment for Caroline if they feel comfortable. Whether to offer encouragement, congratulations, “Happy Gotcha Day,” prayers, or even your own testimony of faith, I think she’d be touched to hear from you. I know only a very small handful of my readers usually comment, but this is one time I ask you to not be shy. 🙂 She has no idea how many lives she’s touched through her journey so far.
We are so proud of Caroline’s accomplishments and her courage to leave everything she knew to start a new life in our family. We feel honored that God chose us to be her parents. And now I’ll leave you with her thoughts on the last year…
Today is I had been came America one year! (It’s actually one year since we met…we traveled home 10 days later.) I know that’s really excited! Me too!
In this year, I need thank you for my Daddy and Mommy. Thank you for they adopt me for their daughter. I have a happiness family. I believe something is control my life, but I don’t know. In here, I know you will said God. Next, you be really sad… I don’t trust God! Because education of China is atheism. I live China 12 years. Now I 13. But I try. I going this way. And I really stubborn.
One thing about food, which I really hate, but Americans really like. Cheese. In China, most people don’t eat cheese. So now you can understand why. (PS: I don’t like chocolate too. But I not hate it.)
The 2nd thing is my English is pretty bad, sometimes speak the wrong way. But I geting better, right? For that, Dad and Mom find many way to help, like tutor, and now is read 4 books each month. Then I will get a new Chinese book. That’s good idea! Just for the book, I have to keep read!
I go to middle school next year. I nervous about it because I don’t know every thing! But I know I can do it! Secondly is my age, in China the elementary school are six-year system. When you 13 year old you start going to middle school, that’s normal. But in America is different, when you 11, you go to middle school, 13 year old you’re in 8th grade, so when I tell people my age, they’re surprise, but my English is too bad for 8th grade. (Based on her previous education and the advice of other adoptive families, we held Caroline back two years, so she just finished 5th grade.) That what I’m worried the most.
In a word, the first year pretty well! I had lots good friends, sweet little sisters and brother, grate family. I really gratified. (I think she means grateful?)
Love, Caroline Brown