Meeting Simon

We left on Halloween to go get Simon. It was a crazy, busy day to leave our other kids on and we were so thankful for grandmas and grandpas staying with then. It was a Friday morning and the plan was for us to spend a day (but really more because of the time change) traveling, a day resting, and then see Simon on Monday morning. The flight felt so long to me; I could not wait to just be in the country where our little boy was. 

After arriving we were able to sleep (while dreaming strange, stress-out dreams about Simon) and then on Sunday we set out to orient ourselves and figure out where restaurants, groceries, and subway stations were. We also found one of our church's congregations and were able to attend. The familiar music and spirit of that church meeting helped me feel calm and peaceful. 

It was hard to sleep on Sunday night and we were up early. We were supposed to meet our social worker at noon in our hotel lobby and we were there waiting at 11:30. I remember thinking that it was the most stressed I think we've ever been at the same time. Neither of us said anything almost that entire half an hour. Finally, our social worker walked in and recognized us right away. (We didn't blend in very we'll in Hong Kong.) We sat down with her and went over paperwork and then followed her out the door and into a taxi headed for Simon's child care home.

When we arrived we waited in a meeting room for Simon, we didn't talk, but kept giving each other teary looks of "THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING!" After a few minutes his caretaker came in carrying him. He was wearing traditional Chinese clothes and he looked so little and afraid but just like I imagined from the pictures we had loved of him for the past 18 months. As much as he possibly could, Simon knew what was happening. They had told him that he was getting a mommy and a daddy and he knew that meant he was leaving with us. He warmed up to Taylor quickly and me less quickly. We spent three days visiting him in his child care home, trying to learn about his routines and medical needs and helping him become more familiar with us. By the end of the second day he was laughing and playing with us. He was a big fan of Taylor's whiskers and my arm hair (still is). I was a big fan of his little toes and the way he covered his mouth when he laughed. (still am) We were so ready for him to be ours.

His caregivers threw him a goodbye party on the morning of the third day and he said goodbye to everyone he loved. So did we, and we were so grateful to all if them for the love and care they had given our little boy. At that point they knew him better and understood him better than we did and that felt so scary to us and, of course, to Simon. Simon didn't cry as we were leaving, but in the car he fell right asleep in my lap and I think it was his way of dealing with what was happening.

After arriving at our hotel our social worker stayed with us for a while and we tried to feed Simon and get him to take a longer nap. He was acting tired and sad. It was stressful. He wouldn't eat or sleep and I was worried that our social worker was doubting my ability to care for our little boy. (She probably wasn't, but I think I was doubting myself and so it made me feel that way.) I was also not feeling well at all--courtesy of probably a lot of stress and strange (to me) food. I prayed silently really hard and held Simon and he fell asleep on my lap again.

After he was finally sleeping our social worker and Taylor left to make a trip to the grocery store and it was just me and Simon for the first time ever. I could finally just stare at him and touch his hair and whisper things to him that I had been dying to say for months. I was aching so much for time with him, to be close to him. I still kind of am. I miss the first three years of his life, and I'm so thankful for the last nine months and all the years ahead.


What was the process like?

The adoption process for us went fairly smoothly, but it still felt so long--it was a year and a half almost exactly from beginning to end. (which is shorter than it could have been and about what we were told to expect.) The first big step along the way was completing our home study--which is a report from a social worker about our family. It was really our first dip into the whole venture and I remember being so on edge before our social worker came for our first home study visit. We waited in a spotlessly clean house for him to arrive and when he did he was wearing a soccer uniform and flip flops and it was a casual, fun visit. He came back a few more times to finish up the interviews and we didn't clean for him anymore (very much). Once we had our homestudy completed we could fully compile our dossier.

The dossier is the big deal--it is all the gathered documents that are required by Hong Kong in order for us to be officially matched with Simon. Some of the documents in the dossier include notarized copies of birth certificates, marriage licence, diplomas, financial records, the home study and referral letters. It also included written answers by us to questions regarding our faith, our parenting, our marriage relationship, our strengths and weaknesses, our hobbies and interests, our community, religion, education and future goals. I remember all the introspection as I answered those questions making me feel like less than what I should be. When you think that much about yourself, you are reminded of all your weaknesses and of all the things you lack and sometimes that made me really anxious. It's still hard for me. For some reason I slip into feeling like Simon deserves a perfect mother, and that somehow by choosing to be his mother I was committing to the impossible task of being very close to perfect. I know all parents feel extra aware of their shortcomings and really want to be everything they imagine their children need, but with Simon, for some reason, that struggle has been more intense for me. It's been a challenge that I wasn't expecting.

For the dossier we also each had to have a physical, TB test, blood tests and have our doctors fill out a form about our health. It was the last bit that we needed before we could turn in our dossier and somehow we could not get it right. Every time we turned it in to our agency there was something we had missed and we had to go back to have the doctor resign and refill out paperwork at least five times so that the wording and acronyms and signatures were just right. Then we made cookies for the doctors office so they would maybe like us again.

After the dossier was turned in, in January of 2014, we waited for matching approval, which I felt like was the biggest moment in the process (other than travel) and by far the hardest wait. One morning Taylor had called our social worker, Mike, to check about something else and while he was on the phone Mike told him he had just received an email from Hong Kong that we had received matching approval. Taylor called to tell me and I was sweeping the kitchen and totally not expecting the news that morning and I cried all day because it was such a rush of relief and I was basically just a really emotional mess a lot of times while we were waiting for Simon. After matching approval we could breath a sigh of relief that Simon would really be ours. (not 100 percent sure cause things can always happen, but a really, really good chance) 

There were a few more steps during the process after matching approval--mostly paperwork to fill out in order to gain permission from both governments to adopt internationally. After we finished these steps, which took three or four more months, we waited to be told we could travel. In October we knew Simon was getting a visa and that it would be anytime, then we were told on October 20th that we could come to Hong Kong on November 3rd (two weeks later) for our week long stay. We were so, so ready to meet our little boy and bring him home (ready in all the ways we knew how to be ready).

(Simon receiving his teddy bear that we sent him after matching approval) 


A reunion and an anniversary and summer's almost over.

 We had tons of fun a the Cash family reunion as pictured below...coloring, music, pie selling, pie eating, swimming, and some of my favorite people on the planet. 

(getting along is fun to do)

Anna and her pink ukulele 

Violet selling pies, Georgia sampling them.

We also celebrated our 10th anniversary last week. I'll admit that I'm feeling overly sentimental about that fact. It's been a really incredible ten years--in some ways just what I hoped it would be and in some ways so different. I never dreamed up anything even close to what we've done together in the last ten years and I am so honored to be married to this man--he's really good for me. We had a fun date in Provo Canyon zip lining and eating delicious food.

(photo cred goes to Max)


How we decided to adopt

We are asked how we decided to adopt pretty often and for some reason I always end up feeling like I wasn't able to explain things the way I wanted to. I'm not sure why. I think part of it is that getting Simon here is such a long time-line to me and that time-line began before we even had plans to adopt. Another part of it is that so much of the lead up to our decision was what was happening inside us--feelings, questions, prayers, answers to prayers.  It's makes it hard to explain in a nice little conversation or even a medium sized one, so get ready for the long, long answer. 

To me this whole chapter of our lives really started when I was expecting Georgia. Things were not going smoothly and no one could figure out why. I spent the last three months at home and in the hospital on bedrest, but I made it to 37 weeks and Georgia was born safe and healthy. During my pregnancy and right after both Taylor and I separately felt that there was another baby (I knew it would be a cute little boy) that would come after Georgia. We are both religious and believe in a God who gave us families in this life to help us, and who guides us as mothers and fathers of those families. We both took the feelings in stride and thought they were comforting during and after such a rough pregnancy. I wanted so badly to be back to myself and back to taking care of our family after Georgia was born, but I wasn't recovering and a few weeks later I ended up in the hospital again where we realized that I had a uterine AVM (a problem with the arteries and veins in my uterus that causes hemorrhaging.) and needed surgery. After surgery I was quickly back to being healthy and strong, but we were told that having any more children biologically would be life threatening to me and to the baby. I was so sad about that, and I felt guilty being sad because I already had four beautiful children and a recent miracle that both Georgia and I were okay. I felt sad and guilty and I still felt such a strong feeling that there was another child that would be a part of our family and that I needed to do something about it. Some of the time I thought maybe I was crazy. Some of the time I was overwhelmed thinking about how we would figure out the world of adoption. Some of the time I felt really peaceful. Georgia was the sweetest baby to hold and cuddle and I loved those months of her as a newborn; I felt like she knew a little more of what was in store than I did. 

We gradually started learning about adoption and exploring the different paths we could take--first online and then by reaching out and meeting with or corresponding with different agencies and organizations. Our adoption was a line upon line thing. It wasn't us coming across a picture on-line and immediately knowing that this baby was ours or learning about Simon in a dramatic, miraculous way. It was just a long, winding path that eventually put us in the right place at the right time and led us to him. We talked to friends and acquaintances who had adopted through foster care, domestically, and internationally and we actually went a ways down each of those paths. I continued feeling so strongly that this was something we needed to do and I continued wondering sometimes if I was crazy. All the searching and decision making was good for us. Every time we were not on the same page about something, we had to get there and we did. Taylor has a lot of faith and when I was feeling worried he would remind me to trust my feeling and have faith and not fear. About a year after Georgia was born we still weren't sure of the right path. We decided to just give the whole thing a break for a while, except I was going to follow up with one more person at the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network (NDSAN). When I did, we learned about Simon. We asked for and were sent his profile and all the adoption requirements. Everything felt like a good fit and we felt like we had maybe found our little boy. And when we found him it felt really good and right and scary and overwhelming. (It was the most frightening leap of faith I have ever taken and I definitely had my share of freak-out moments all along the way.) The day after we learned about Simon we prayed a lot and made our decision and then called the contact for the agency and began the process of adopting Simon. In other words we began mounds and months of paperwork to make this sweet boy ours forever.

This is a picture I found of little Simon from May 2013, the month we began the process. (His child care home sent us with a CD of Simon's pictures and that was the best gift ever.) 

stay here summer.

This summer has been a stay-around-here summer. No really big vacations, some time with family, but mostly lots of hanging out at home, which has been perfect this year. I wasn't ready for summer to start and I'm not ready for it to end. Here are some pictures of our exciting lives. 

Dress ups--Simon is not scared of them anymore. 

Playing train while I clean the kitchen. They made stops in Detroit, Alaska, and Disneyland, which I thought was interesting. I'm seriously considering never letting my big kids go back to school. They are way better than I am at entertaining Simon and Geo.

Simon got his tonsils out a few weeks ago out and proved, yet again, what a tough little guy his is. Everything went smoothly and we are so happy to have it over with and have our happy Simon back. He was a pretty miserable for a couple weeks, but we made it through by eating ice cream and jello a lot--all of us, especially me, in solidarity.

Bike rides to keep Simon happy when he was sad about his extremely soar throat. Poor baby.

We made it to the children's museum at Thanksgiving Point a couple times. We kind of miss living in close proximity to that place.

We've been making messes in the kitchen with the art stuff daily.

But it's okay because we eat outside, where we also make messes.

And last of all, and this is a big deal...Georgia got her ears pierced so she could be like Anna! She has little, pink, heart earrings and everything is wonderful in her life. And she's really cute. 



Summer has been pretty awesome actually. I was expecting some major stress from having all the kids home, all together, all the time, but it's been really good. Not good for the fast food budget or my housekeeping aspirations, but good for our family, especially me. This summer has given us a much needed break from all the pressures that I didn't realize were bogging us down--extra curricular activities, adoption stuff, Simon's therapy--we've just had less of everything and it's been awesome. We weren't in our new house last summer quite yet, so It's been fun to explore all the summer things there are to do in our new neighborhood and city. (and by that I basically mean that it's been fun to scope out and try every snow cone stand within a five mile radius. What is my deal!?)

Eating snow cones--look who's sharing! 

Also, it was my birthday this last month and I turned 31. For a special gift to me Taylor refinished a bench that we found in our shed when we moved to our new house. He let these kids help him after Simon went to bed. I think I like this picture and the bench the same amount. Both were really good birthday presents.

We also went on a date for my birthday to a magic show in Salt Lake City. I love this man.

And one of our favorite summertime things to do--the Lehi Roundup Rodeo. It was Simon's first time and he was unsure of how excited he was to be there, which made him extra cuddly, which was okay with me.