At Holt, we are blessed to receive photos and updates from adoptive families nearly every day. We love seeing how children grow and change when they are nurtured by the individual love and attention of their family. Sometimes, adopted children change so much in a short period of time, it’s hard to believe we are looking at the same beautiful child we helped to find a family for just a short time ago. That was the case last month when Wendy Matthews sent two photos and a short update about her daughter, Allye James.
On December 21, 2015, the Matthews family traveled to China to formally welcome AJ into their family. On that special day, Wendy snapped this picture of her four children:
A year later, in December 2016, Wendy shared this photo of AJ:
Wendy also shared that AJ is doing great! AJ started at a Chinese-immersion Kindergarten this year and has blossomed as a happy, independent and loving little girl. Here is an excerpt from Wendy’s celebratory “Gotcha Day” Facebook post, which describes AJ’s incredible transformation:
“Today is a special day for our family. One year ago on 12/21/15 we met Dang Bao Yu for the first time. Like the births of my sons, it was a moment that I will never forget. It was an 18-month pregnancy and ten plus years in the making. Most of you know that I gave birth to twins who weighed less than 4 lbs combined. Little did I know how much that would prepare me for adoption. Looking back I realize it was God’s plan all along. The adoption journey is an emotional one and ours came with highs and lows and unexpected turns. Sort of like our time in the NICU and the first few years of our twins’ lives. Adoption is a leap of faith and I truly believed it would work out. I did sometimes struggle to understand why things were happening as they were throughout the process, but it would become crystal clear after we met ‘Yu Yu.’ I was nervous in the days (especially hours) leading up to ‘Gotcha Day.’ I was grateful to have our boys there although I stressed about the added expense during peak travel season. It was important for my husband and I that all three of our boys see where their sister came from and get a little dose of reality about how fortunate they are. Bao Yu was traveling by train with her orphanage director to our meeting place at the civil affairs office in Taiyuan City, China. Waiting for her made me feel like an expectant father in a waiting room circa 1960. I greeted her as she entered the room and her caregivers were telling her I was ‘mama.’ I didn’t cry, but I do every time I reflect on that moment. After an obligatory hug, Bao Yu cried inconsolably and walked right back out the door. She was outta there! We didn’t expected a Hallmark moment, but even my pocket full of Skittles didn’t work! Luckily, after a short while, a stuffed panda, a coloring book, and three older brothers convinced her to give us a chance. Months later when we could better communicate, she would share with me how scared she was that day. She remembers it vividly and even laughs a little about it now. Within days (ok an hour) she was acting silly and soaking up the attention. She took great pleasure in arranging her brothers single file and directing them in follow-the-leader. All without knowing a single word of English. It warmed my heart to watch my boys follow her every command and take turns pushing her in the stroller. They have far exceeded my expectations in adjusting to our new family. There is not a single doubt in my mind that this girl was meant to be with us. I’m not sure which of my loved ones helped arrange this deal, but I know it was a match made in heaven. AJ is courageous, sweet, happy, loving, playful, talkative, independent, bossy, stubborn and loves all things Paw Patrol. Adoption has been life changing and I am so thankful God picked me. Would my life be easier without a five year old? Probably. Will I be old as dirt when she graduates high school? Yup. Would I change a thing? Not on your life. If you think she’s the lucky one, think again.”
Congratulations on your first year together, Matthews family!