Sunday, February 12, 2012

What an amazing year...

We have sent the following letter to our friends and True Children's Home. We thought you all would also enjoy an update on our little Mimi.

Our daughter Marin (Xi Xin) has been home with us now for one year. We celebrated her gotcha day on January 18. Every morning, when we go into her room to greet her and take her out of her crib we pass by a little pink boot, which is the doorstop for her door. Marin was wearing this boot on Gotcha Day and it has become a symbol of the care, love and generosity bestowed on her by the nannies, volunteers and support staff of True Children’s Home. Our little girl was not handed to us barefoot, cold, and hopeless, but warm, (beautifully) clothed and diligently cared for.

We had been through the Chinese adoption process before and our experience was so positive, our daughter Helena so truly amazing, that we felt the need to return to China. We prayed for guidance on whether we were equipped to handle the challenges of a child with special needs. And after much soul-searching, the counting of our many blessings and the support of our loving family, we jumped in with both feet…knowing this time we would rely much heavier on our faith.

In January of 2011, our second adoption trip, we had no prior knowledge of True Children’s Home. So when Jenny and Michael handed us our little bundle and then proceeded to tell us about their organization, we saw this surprise as nothing short of a miracle. Marin had been financially and physically supported through a well-performed surgery as well as her post-surgical care. What a blessing for Marin and for us to be given this truly amazing gift. All the care given by True Children’s home, from the surgical repair to the one-on-one bonding, made her transition to her life as Marin relatively simple and much less traumatic than we could have imagined.

With her big bright beautiful eyes, Marin is thriving. We just celebrated her 2nd birthday. She is a happy, confident little soul who loves and is loved by all who know her. Marin is very affectionate and spontaneously offers warm hugs to her family members. Her grandparents (she is fortunate to have both sets) adore her and she gets very excited at the arrival of her Nana, Grandma, Granddad and YeYe. She likes playing by herself, but also enjoys the company of her sister, cousins and friends. She loves playing with her dolls, her pretend kitchen, as well as browsing her library. We recently started taking her to a group music class and she beams with joy as she sings and dances along with the other adults and children.

Her speech is coming along very well and with a rapidly growing vocabulary, has little trouble communicating her wants and needs. Her repaired lip and cleft were examined several months after we came home. Our surgical team here in Salt Lake was very impressed with the repair and other than ear tubes placed last summer, no follow-up should be required until she’s five or six years old.

The little pink boot will remain a fixture in Marin’s room. As she matures and becomes more aware of her world, we will share with her the story of this little boot and how it is part of her story, her beginning. A beginning that first stumbled but then was lovingly lifted up by the generosity of strangers. Marin’s story is an incredible example of the blessing of charity, love, generosity, and the impact these virtues can have on a new life.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


It was exactly one year ago...we had just finished an amazing day of site-seeing with Val's sister Tricia and bro-in-law Scott. We were in Bressanone, enjoying a breathtakingly beautiful autumn day in South Tyrol. Scott and Tricia were to return home to the States the next day and we were reminiscing about the wonderful week we had spent together with Val's sister Beverly and Italian bro-in-law David. David and Bev had graciously guided us through the Venetto, the Dolomites and Slovenia. And the trip had been enchanting. As we crossed the street in front of Bev and David's flat, Bev greeted us with the news that we must call home at once. Caroll, Justin's Mum, had received an urgent call from the adoption agency who had an immediate need to talk to us. Filled with anticipation and concern, we made several calls and after an hour or so, while sitting in Bev's little kitchen, we watched the screen of our laptop download the image that brought us to tears. Those eyes and that smile were immediately burned in our brain. Xi Xin was her name, and four months later she would become our daughter, Marin Irene.

Although at first we couldn't believe this surprise. We were expecting months more of waiting and we had just spent all our money gallivanting around Northern Italy. How could this be? Were we truly ready to take on the challenges in store for "number 2"? But in hindsight, it was a perfect time for us to get word. Surrounded by family, away from the pressures of every day life, and recharged by the easy pace of the Dolomites, we digested the news, walking the streets and trails around town, contemplating what this dramatic news would bring and the game plan for the months to come. And what it did bring, more than anything else was joy, pure joy to our hearts. What a blessing you are little Mimi, a true blessing.

With summer waning, we are loving the September weather. Perfect, sunny 80 degree days, and cool 50 degree nights (serenaded by the crickets). It is our favorite time of year --now, for an even more special reason). Much of the summer was spent close to home, but we did make it up to Northern Washington for some Rn R as well as Grampa Al's 90th birthday celebration. Marin poured on her charm and captured yet another heart, with her wit and warmth. We played at the beach, but you can see, not necessarily IN the sand.

New words are now coming too quick to count and Mimi is even working on the first couple lines of the ABC song. The sisters continue to bond and include little Ping more and more in their little games. Marin is still tiny, but over 20 lbs and wearing 12-18 month clothes. Lena and Ping both weigh in at 37 lbs (for the time being).

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Happy 18th Mimi!

Today our little Mimi is 18 months old. Its hard to believe that we have only been home with her for six months. We know our little angel so well. We love her so much. She is us and we are her.

Although the wet Spring was never ending, the time did pass and with summer finally here, we are enjoying all our outdoor activities. Marin loves to be outside. She loves to ride in the back pack, swing on her swing, cruise in her jogger, and play in the pool. She can't get enough dancing and she shakes it everywhere from the kitchen to her car seat. In reality, there isn't much Marin doesn't like to do and she is game to try something new. Mimi is always in the middle of the action with her ready smile and sparkling eyes.

We have had a busy couple of months. Most notably trying to raise a toddler and a puppy while keeping a four-year-old happy, entertained and still feeling important. For the most part, the sisters get along great. Marin does like to push Helena's buttons, but they also manage to have a lot of giggles together. And the phenomenon of wanting to try everything your big sister does is well underway. Marin always does these things with her little Mimi flair...for example climbing up on her sisters chair, but not sitting on it, but rather turning around and precariously dancing on the edge like some sort of bar floozy.

A word on her physical and cognitive development...Still in solid 12 month clothing, her motion makes up for her lack of stature. Marin doesn't walk, she sachets. She moves her hips and lower body from side to side, while keeping her upper body totally still. She can do this at a very rapid rate and it is impressive to watch and very difficult to try and emulate. We will miss it when it goes, but for now it keeps us grinning. Her vocabulary is growing rapidly and so is her comprehension. Her latest words are "Lena", "hi doggie", "up", and "damn-it Ping" (just kidding). She had ear tubes placed about a month ago and we haven't seen any complications. Her speech is starting to reveal some challenges in the movement of air through her mouth and nose and we will soon be addressing this. For now, it is just so precious, especially when you hear that little voice singing "ashes, ashes, we all fall down."

As an involved family member, Marin has hit the ground running --taking part in all our adventures. In addition to lots of bonding with her Nana, Granddad, Aunt Kelly, Uncles and cousins, she helped us co-host a reunion for Helena's orphanage travel group. It was fantastic weekend and Mimi did her part to make all our out of town visitors feel welcome.

Oh Mimi...where would we be without you?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

We love you "Mare-Win"

Yes, our love for our little Marin grows (as she does) every day. She has been eating like a horse and sleeping like a trucker (she prefers the car or the kitchen rug). We truly can't imagine life without her. We can imagine a life with a little more sleep in the morning and less drama at nap time, but it wouldn't be our life.
Helena is starting to adjust to life with a little sister and it is really cute to see the two of them as they laugh and play and build their sisterly bonds. Lane is a great big sister and whether its sitting in the tub, running interference for Dad, or watching a little Kipper the Dog before breakfast, she has come to expect her little companion at her side.
We have had a busy couple of weeks with lots of visitors. Val's parents, sister Bev (from Italy) and sister Tricia (with husband Scott and the kids from Minnesota), were all out for a visit. Marin had fun getting to know her cousins from the North and also basked in the warmth of her aunt (and God Mother) Beverly as well as her Grandma and YeYe. Part of the reason for the visit was to take part in Marin's baptism. We were so happy and blessed to have so many family members here for the occasion and little Mimi, ever the charmer, took it all in stride.
We were also very excited to welcome Justin's English cousin Jordan ("Georgian" to Lena) and girlfriend Sophie for a visit. As we were driving up to Park City to meet up with Jordan and Sophie, Helena asked me, "Dad, when you see him, will you give Georgian a hug?" "Yes," I said "a big hug." Hot off a tour of Asia the two young Brits entertained us with stories of biting dogs in Indonesia and biting bugs in India. For family, the visit had great significance. Jordan now holds the honour of being the first of the UK Read Clan, to meet the next generation of the America Read's --Jake, London, Helena and Marin.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

One month and counting...

It has been just over a month now since we first gazed into those amazing eyes of our dear little Marin. After all we have been though since that first encounter in Guangzhou, it feels more like a year. With the false start of our hospital stay, we are only now really getting into a regular routine. It feels good and it is a nice time of year to just take it easy and see to the new needs of both our girls.
All the little baby developmental things are coming along nicely. Marin has taken her first steps and is gaining more and more confidence with her legs. She is now eating solid food and her she finds new favorites on her tray every day. She is learning to use a sippy cup, which gives her great pride. Her words are still somewhat limited to "Mah mah", and the occasional "Dah dah", with lots of grunts and giggles thrown in.

So what's it like, living with Marin? Mostly its a lot of fun. She cracks us up constantly. She is a very good-natured, easy to please, little soul and we thought we would fill you in on some of her funny little quirks. She is very affectionate and likes to cuddle. She is also very expressive and claps her little hands when she is particularly pleased. She also likes to groove to the music. Whether you are singing I've Been Working on the Railroad or Paparazzi, she likes to sway her little body to the music.
She does not like to go to sleep alone, and we are often held captive, crib-side, until she nods off. If we are stretched at nap time and choose to drop her and run, this is the result 7 times out of 10: First of all she will take a very deep breath (and you wonder if she will start breathing again), then she will cry and cry. Her wales are so pitiful, you would have thought you just stole her brand new puppy. Often times the drama is too much and she wins out and we get her up. At that point, two things happen. First, she immediately stops crying and you soon realize it was all one big charade. And then, to rub it in your face, as you carry her down the hall toward the kitchen, she gives an audible little grunt and shrug, as if to say, "huh, I won." Her best naps happen in the car, parked in the garage. Often after taking big sister to school, she will conk out in her car seat and stay asleep for an hour or more.
Generally Marin enjoys car rides, unless the sun is in her eyes (then you hear all about it). When the ride is over, and I go to unbuckle her, she looks up at me and opens her mouth as wide as she possible can. I return the greeting and we laugh about it.
Lena, Marin and Daddy got out into the canyon for some snow-time this week. Marin got her first sleigh ride with her big sister and seemed to tolerate for a while. This quickly changed, when Lena decided to get out and walk and Marin was left to role around in the sled like a piece of cargo. Then, snow-time was over.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's Nice to be home... Again.

First of all, let us wish you all a Happy New Year and welcome in the year of the rabbit. We know to most of you the lunar new year is not much more than a 5 o'clock news mention, but after witnessing all the prep, excitement, and good cheer it generates in Asia, it has become an important new tradition for us to embrace.

If you wondered if we were done blogging, lost internet access, or were just lazy, the answer is... none of the above. We intended to stay in touch more frequently; however, little Marin was hit with an unexpected complication of immigration... new infectious bugs, namely RSV. She was a little trooper getting over her initial Guangzhou cold but relapsed with a vengeance on Super Bowl Sunday and wound up with a new and different virus (the newsworthy kind). After an unexpected ambulance ride and a few mildly harrowing days and some long nights at Primary Children's Medical Center (with great care by the way), we are now all home and everyone is sleeping in their respective beds. Amazingly, Marin can now sleep through the night (almost) now that her oxygenation is normal. Who would have thought?

Her big sis, Lena, is getting used to her new role as team captain. It is an effort, getting used to this new family member, and she has been a real go-getter. It has been fun to watch her tackle her new role (not the baby) as helper, and she is slowly starting to figure out what her capabilities are and what she can and can't do to help. For example, she can pick up Marin, but she sure as hell can't go anywhere with her.

We have a bit of good news. We met with Marin's surgeon today and were very relieved to find that he is happy (and dare we say impressed) with the cleft lip/palate repair she underwent in Guangzhou last July. This means far fewer surgeries for her in the long run and she is off the hook for major surgery for the next few years. What a relief for us since we were preparing for yearly surgery for the next several years. She will probably have outpatient procedures for tympanostomy tubes and a little tissue resection on her upper lip this year but it shouldn't be anything that requires an extended hospital stay. And as she bounces back from her illness, she is proving herself to be a good eater, open to new and different solid foods. This is great for us, given our limited experience with bottle feeding (what a royal pain).

We were so fortunate to have great visit with Val's folks. YeYe and Grandma Pat had some quality time with their newest grandchild. Marin warmed right up to her new grandparents and Helena was also very happy to have them here. She shows such love and affection for her extended family. It is very heart warming to witness.

For now, we plan on settling into a regular routine. This should be a nice change for a while.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Just a quick note to let you all know we are safe and sound at home. And a big thank you for all of your encouraging words over the last two weeks.

After a near flight miss in HK, a sleepless night in SF and an hour delay into SLC, our transit clock stopped at 31 hours (give or take an hour). The eleven hour HK to SF flight was by far the most painful. Catering to the whims of little Marin, we basically sat in a virtual sensory isolation chamber for 11 hours, with a bad meal thrown at us couple times. We joked that we would take 11 hours of labor in a delivery room, over this ordeal any day (even if Justin was birthing the baby).
As you can see from the pics, the rewards for enduring were very sweet. It was such a welcome site to see our family and friends, waiting to meet us with open arms. Marin certainly felt the love and she took all the attention in stride, with big smiles for everyone. And holding our Helena felt especially precious . We are now recovering from some brutal jet-lag, which we hope to pass in the coming days. We will be back to give a full report on our progress, but for tonight, we will let the pics tell our happy homecoming story. A special thanks to the Cannons and Scherers for coming out to greet us.
Its good to be home.