Friday, February 24, 2012


Gotcha Day, December 12, 2011

Unbeknownst to us at the time, yesterday, February 23rd, marked our two month anniversary home with Cassie. Randy and I had just been commenting on how much Cassie has changed and grown since first setting eyes on her back on December 12, 2011.

She is becoming more peaceful, willing, comfortable in our home, in her home. She is smiling more often, radiantly so. Cassie, while being nothing short of spirited, is delightful, compassionate, tender, funny as all-get-out and absolutely engaging.

Ever so bright, yet with a probable emotional age of a two year old, Cassie loves to cover her face just before one of us walks into the room and by doing so she thinks she is hidden. Yesterday, as a matter of fact, Cassie was talking on the phone with her interpreter from Riley and I heard her say to her, "Where is Cassie?" Then she sat real still and quiet with a slight grin on her face. When i told her she must talk to Yenchen in order to stay on the phone, she began talking and laughing as though she had just shared something very funny. I realized later that, when she asked Yenchen where Cassie was and then got quiet and wouldn't speak, in her mind she had been hiding from Yenchen.

This is one of many, many examples of how a child thinks and behaves who has not had an opportunity at attachment to a mommy and daddy from early on in life. Without attachment, neurological development becomes slowed, hindered, leading to stunted growth in emotional development which ends up, in our case, looking like a seven year old girl on the outside yet in reality feeling more like and acting more like a two year old in her focus, in her short attention span, in her struggle to reason out cause and effect to name a few areas.

And now that Cassie has a family who loves her and who appreciates her for who she is and where she comes from, she now has the opportunity to "catch up" and to get her feet firmly planted and established in the crux of her family, a family who will always be here for her.

When Cassie does not get her way, she likes to say to me, "Mei Mei bu (emphasis on bu) happy, Mommy." as she gives me a real sad look, lower lip down-turned. Bu means "no" in mandarin, so she is essentially letting me know she is not at all happy with how things are going for her at that moment. I happened to be sitting at the computer yesterday when she announced to me for probably the tenth time that morning she was not happy. So I thought to write to her on google translate, "But Mei Mei, you really have so much to be happy about. You have a mommy now. You have a daddy now. You have a big sister now. You have a nice bed to sleep in now. You have a heart that is healed now. You can play now." And for the rest of yesterday she did not make such an announcement again.

Until today that is....

But...Cassie is very bright, and she is catching on quickly to how a family functions and moves. Mentally she is one sharp arrow with an open heart for learning and for loving. It is only recently that i can share with you that we are fast approaching the end of what was, at times, a very dark tunnel. Yes, we are still in the tunnel, but can now see the light at the end. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for Your endless mercy.

The growth we are all experiencing as a family could not and can not and will not happen without a complete reliance on God the Father and Jesus as Lord and Savior over our lives. God has carried us through the days leading up to the adoption of this beautiful child, and He is carrying us now, transforming our minds and hearts in the midst of these trials and hardships.

The greatest harship we feel to be the language barrier we are encountering with this little one who loves her language and who has been reluctant to let it go.  So to serve as a bridge, during the daytime Sonya and I speak little phrases in her mother language, and converse with Cassie the best we can that way.  As we are doing this, we are also introducing the english language to her as well.  Cassie is just now beginning to enjoy the feel of english words in her mouth and on her lips.  She is just now feeling confident enough in our love for her and in her own ability to tackle and master this new language.  It is a delight to watch as pure joy pores over her face as she sings the abcs or counts from 1-20 or when she learns a new little phrase and uses it often.  One of her favorite things to say now as she holds up her pointer finger, "One second."  And she loves to hold up her hand while saying, "I'll be right back."  She also likes the sound and meaning of "I know."

There's so much more to say, but i will end for now.  I haven't forgotten about my promise to share more about my journey of faith back to the Lord.  Someone like me, who strayed so far away from Him, who at one time thought the Holy Bible to be nothing but a bunch of lies or half-truths and who now stands on the promises of God contained within the very same.  My life and love for Jesus are nothing short of a miracle, and i am looking forward to sharing with you what i have learned about Him and His love for all of us. Until then, thank you for your prayers, and thank you for "listening".

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Little Girls in Their Innocence

Cassie and Sonya came to me today and asked if they could borrow my camera to take pictures of each other.  I knew they would be contained to their bedroom, so I readily agreed.  After their little "photo session", Sonya asked if I would put their pictures on our blog.  I agreed to that as well.  And i must say, "Halleluiah and Praise the Lord for the Innocence that still enshrouds my little girls.  Lord, please hide their hearts and minds from evil and keep them pure in Your sight, walking close to You always. Amen."

Thursday, February 9, 2012

About Cassie

So much is happening.  So much to say, yet no time to tell it.  But i want to play a bit of catch up with you all. 

Let me begin by taking you all the way back to January 10th, following Cassie's heart catheterization.  Cassie told the interpreter she knew she had had a bad heart.  When the interpreter responded by sharing with Cassie that Randy and i had worked for one year straight, the primary goal being to get her home to America and to get the help she needed for her heart, Cassie looked up at me from her hospital bed and in very broken english replied, "Thank you."  And gave me the sweetest smile.  I cried....

Two weeks ago while we were out and about Cassie became very insistent that she wanted to "go home".  So I told her that's where we were headed.  Cassie became elated with the news of this and laughed and smiled, but as we drove into our addition, she began to whimper,  "Go home, go home, go home, wasa (mispelled probably-means "I  want to" in mandarin) go home."  I did not understand.  I told her, "We are home. This is our home."
Cassie did not like my response and cried.  When entering our house, she sat on our kitchen floor with her back to me.  Finally I realized i needed the help of Yenchen, Cassie's interpreter from Riley, to help figure this all out.

After a while, Yenchen was able to determine that Cassie was missing one of her friends from the orphanage, and she wanted to see him. "Zhong Dong Bo"  she kept repeating over the phone. Happily, gratefully, this little boy, now known as Jack, lives less than three hours away from us in Michigan.  We visited him on Monday of this week, and he is the same little boy whose family brought him to welcome Cassie home at the Fort Wayne airport back on December 23rd, 2011.

As at the airport, these two didn't quite know how to interact with eachother initially.  But it didn't take them long to warm up.

Seated from left to right: Jack (Bo Bo), Cassie (Feng Mei), Sonya and Jack's older sister Caleigh.

I just had to put this picture in of Sonya and Caleigh as they are both just so adorable!

We spent quite a bit of time outdoors, and i am glad we did because i have learned from it that Cassie doesn't mind at all playing outside in the cold. 
Another adorable picture of Caleigh and Sonya as we walked/ biked over to Caleigh's school to drop her off at afternoon kindergarten.  Pictured with Jody, Jack's sweet momma, as she pulls Cassie and Jack behind her in the wagon.
A very new experience for Cassie as she comes down the school slide

When it was time to go, we lured Cassie away with cupcakes and a promise that we will see Bo Bo again along with their other little friend whose parents happen to be in China right now to bring him home to America. He also lives only three hours away from us.  What a blessing it is for these children to get to see eachother on the "outside" and to get to know eachother outside of the confines of an institution.  Thank you, Jesus, for blessing these children with Christian homes where they can grow up to know You and to know one another through You.

Now on to some random pictures that i've been snapping.
Here's Cassie when she comes to me wanting her picture taken.

And here's Cassie when she doesn't.

Cassie yesterday in our addition, ready to try out her sister's bike

Beautiful Sonya

Cassie, wanting to be photographed.  As a matter of fact, she woke me up yesterday morning asking me to help her get into her pretty dress so i could take pics of her!  Now how could i possibly refuse?

Of course then Sonya needed to get in on the action.

Can you see Cassie's wheels turning?  Somebody's going to get tickled!

But big sister managed to beat her to the punch!  LOL!

When we visited Bo Bo the other day, Cassie very timidly and awkwardly climbed over an open platform to go down a kiddy slide.  Just two days later, notice the difference!

As Cassie was riding her little bike yesterday (of course with me holding it up) after playing hard at our neighborhood park, she said to me, "Mei Mei bu lay."  Meaning, she was not tired.  And I said to her, "I know because your heart is fixed.  Hao la!"  Even Cassie marvels at how far she's come.  She remembers a time when she would have never been able to pedal a bike without growing winded and tired, and she knows it is different now.  Thank you, LOrd Jesus, for leading us to this little girl!

And last night, Cassie finally lost her first top front tooth!  I wasn't there for the first two, but i am here for this one.  I laughed and cried as i held her close to me, congratulating her on such a feat, with such mixed emotion knowing i've missed so much yet grateful i am here for her now to put away her baby tooth in a very safe place to have for her future and her memories.

Cassie, this morning, very proudly showing me the gap in her mouth

This afternoon, after Cassie received a little gift from us for being so brave.  We do not do the tooth fairy but we do try to make these moments memorable. 

Cassie is growing to love it here with us, but we haven't been without our share of trials.  Imagine being a child who has gotten by on her ability to communicate well with children and adults alike and then to have it all stripped away over night.  I believe that when this happened to Cassie with us, what was left was her brokeneness underneathe.  But slowly, she is healing and she is developing and she is learning to trust us.  I remember reading on various adoption blogs, before we brought Cassie home, about how the adoption of an older child isn't easy but it's worth it.  I didn't understand what they meant until now, and there really are no proper words to describe this journey, but i am grateful for it.  I've cried many tears over it.  I've prayed many prayers over it.  And my only refuge is in Christ alone. 

Cassie loves to pray.  She will pray every day a certain  prayer, whether at
meal time or laying in her bed at night, and it goes like this, "God, thank you for Mommy, Daddy, Sonya, Mei Mei.  In Jesus Name. Amen."

Now it doesn't get any better than that!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How God Uses Us

After we got back from China, I received a very encouraging email from perfect strangers who had at one point visited our blog, and in so doing, set a scenario in motion which would lead to this family receiving an unexpected, or in a way not so unexpected, adoption grant.  Read on, and please take a minute to visit their blog to check out how you may be able to help them provide one more orphan a loving home through your prayers of intercession or in some other manner.  And give all praise, honor and glory to God the Father!  Amen!

First off, let me introduce myself. My name is Jon Wenzel and my wife is Jenn. We have three biological children and are adopting a little girl from China. I have been following your journey of adoption for the past month or so. Praise God Cassie is home with your family. It is awesome to see God’s hand on your journey as well as ours.

One night my wife sent me an email of a video of an orphan probably around 8 or so. In the video the orphan girl who is now with a family was talking about what it is like to be an orphan. You may recall this video. Somehow, I clicked on a comment below that took me to your blog. Make no mistake I believe God had intended this to happen that night. When I clicked on your blog I began reading about your journey. I stumbled upon the grant that you received from the JSC Foundation. Wow that was a large check. At the time I was praying to God about where funds would come from. Reading your blog led us down the road of applying to the JSC Foundation the day after I read your blog. To sum it up we received a $14,300 check from the JSC Foundation as well. My wife and I were so delighted knowing that our faith in God was coming true right before our eyes!! We always trusted God had a plan for our adoption but didn’t know to the extent to how all the funds would come together. God is so good!!!!! My wife and I pray that though our journey we can touch those around us. I justed wanted you to know that through your journey you have touched us. You never know how God uses us each and every day.

My wife and I just wanted to thank you. Thank you for your blog and everything that you have shared on your journey. It is awesome how God placed your journey in our paths so that we could get the funds needed to bring our little daughter home Piper. God has changed our lives forever.

If you would like to read our blog and story you can at The post titled “Faith” is how God led me to this journey, and the post “How this journey began” is my wife’s reflection and God’s calling on this journey.

God Bless you and your family. I pray that the bond between you and Cassie grows each and every day and that Cassie will except Jesus as her Savior. It’s an awesome gift you have given this child.

God Bless,
Jon Wenzel

Jenn Wenzel

Isabella Wenzel

Ava Wenzel

Audyn Wenzel

Piper Wenzel (China)