Lael received the Liz Jackson Award and scholarship from the Asian American Alliance. Liz Jackson was an iconic Asian American leader who founded the Asian Fest celebration in Indianapolis and Asian Services of Indiana. She was a supporter of immigrants and a leader in the nursing profession as well. She recently passed away. The Asian gentleman who introduced Lael was close to Mrs. Jackson and got very emotional. His voice got even shakier when he read some of what Lael wrote in her application. Mike's chin was wobbling too. This is the part Lael wrote that really choked everyone up, "I know my career goal will be complete when I am able to personally help orphans that are in the same orphanage where I came from. As a Chinese American adopted girl, I feel like I have a responsibility to make a difference in the country that gave me life, even if they were not able to keep me." If you've read about Lael's hats for orphans project, you know that Lael has already made that difference. But I have a feeling she is a long way from being done.
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and his wife Winnie, who is originally from the Phillipines, presented the award to Lael. When Lael saw the First Lady of Indianapolis she said, "I want to look like her when I get old." I guess Mrs. Ballard would consider that a compliment?
And then there is Arden. She also got her share of publicity recently, but for a different reason. She fought leg cramps and a tough opponent to pull off a huge win and as a result her tennis team beat last year's sectional champs to advance to this year's sectional final. The local paper wrote a great article about Arden's win. I'm pretty sure her Dad can recite it word for word.
By Jake Thompson
AVON — With her teammates tensely and nervously awaiting the outcome of every point, Plainfield’s Arden Allen came through for her squad. With the Quakers’ match in Thursday’s tennis sectional semifinal against conference rival Mooresville tied at 2-2, Allen overcame leg cramps and enormous pressure to down her opponent 7-5, 6-4 and advance Plainfield into today’s sectional final.
“I was like ‘This is my night, I’m going to win this no matter what,” Arden said. “I didn’t want to lose my last match if this was our last match.”
I had been wanting to adopt again, actually begging, ever since we adopted Bret, but for four years Mike told me we didn't have the money. When we first decided to adopt Bret, Mike told me that would be the last one. Of course I had a plan. I literally prayed, and prayed that Bret would bond with Mike over me. I knew if she did, emotionally he wouldn't be able to resist another cute, tiny, perfect little orphan. God must have not of minded, because I did nothing any different than I did with my other three kids, but Bret was the first to STRONGLY prefer him over me. I could hold her, but she would much rather him be the one carrying her and if she was scared or tired she would have nothing to do with me. The first night we switched hotels after leaving her city in China I made the mistake of taking her up to the next hotel room without Mike. She thought she had lost Mike and she ran down the hall screaming so loud people came out in the hall to see what was going on. When he came up to the room, with big sobs she fell asleep in his lap. I felt awful, because it really did mess her up for awhile. Then, on the long flight home, Mike looked down at Bret sleeping on his arm and said, "I think we might do this again." Mike had no idea I had been praying like that and I didn't think I should be tellling him it quite yet.
So, fast forward more than 4 years after adopting Bret. Mike was in the process of changing jobs. He kept telling me how much money they were going to offer him. I kept telling him if he gets offered $15,000 more than that, it was for my adoption. He kept saying we were not going to adopt, because they were not going to offer him that. He said "This is how many years I've been out of law school and this is how much they pay." I kept right on praying for $15,000 over what he was suppose to get offered.
Jesus replied, "Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. Matthew 21:21
I knew about every 3 to 4 months our agency got around 30 new kids' pictures and I was at the top of the list to look at them. Back then that is how China was doing their adoptions.
Bret was 4 1/2 y.o. when we got her and I loved adopting that age. Plus, I was 46 y.o. and too old for a baby. Imagine my horror when I looked at the list of kids and didn't see any ages 3 to 6 or even 7 y.o. I wanted.
We did see 2 babies. They were at the same orphanage, same age, same special need (VSD heart) and both VERY, VERY cute.
Mike was very adamant he wanted Lyric and not the other baby. He also gave her the name Lyric. For 3 nights I couldn't sleep, because I was too old for a baby.
We did all our paperwork and she turned 2 y.o. on her adoption day.
The best way to describe Lyric is fun,
easy, but not quiet! Her first 6 months home she woke us up through out the night talking in Chinese, in her sleep. Mike said, "She is killing us!"
As her kindergarten teacher put it "It is hard to get mad at her, because she is always talking about whatever pertains to the subject."
Lyric with her cousin Gabrielle when they were about 3 y.o. This year in school they are in the same 4th grade class.
This is the referral picture that made Mike say "I want this one." She is the only one he had ever named and we are getting #12. When Mike and I went to the Civil Affairs to meet Lyric I knew, as our guide put it, "She not typical Chinese orphan." Most are quiet, scared or even crying. Lyric was running all over the place. Her outfit was too small and she had on no underwear. Her tiny butt cheeks were sticking out. I was kidding, but I asked our guide if she was OK. She said "She OK, just spoiled. She go home with different nannies at night." The other baby, we didn't pick, was also getting adopted with Lyric. To this day I have no idea why that baby did not get the same attention as Lyric. Lyric's nanny cried and cried and when we visited the orphanage a few days later as we drove up the big orphanage kids were chanting "Ya Ni, Ya Ni." The orphanage director and her nanny ran out and grabbed Lyric. Lyric was tickled pink to see them and lunged for her nanny. That too is very unusual for an orphan. Lyric has a way to make lemons into lemonade and is happy where ever she goes to this day.
And this was Lyric last week.
I took this picture of Bret Friday night. I did all that blogging below, but I didn't post any recent pictures to show how all Bret's surgeries have come out. We are really pleased! Bret had a small surgery right after we got her which was about 10 years ago. Then several more in the last few years.
This was just the other day. She has had the same group of girl friends about all through grade school and now middle school. She goes to church and school with them. They are good, good girls and have great parents.
About 3 years ago we tried dermabrasion on Bret's burn scars. It didn't turn out like we hoped. It was the very first time I ever experienced a panic attack. I walked in the recovery room and saw her skinned face. The inside of my body felt like one big burning sensation. I didn't know if I was going to pass out or throw up, but I had to sit down. Bret looked at me like she needed help, but I had to leave the room before I lost it. I knew if I stayed I would scare her to death so I told her I had to let her Dad come see her.
They also worked on her arm where it was burned.
Then, we went for expanders in her neck. A silicone balloon expander was inserted under the skin near the area to be repaired and then gradually filled with salt water over time, causing the skin to stretch and grow. For about 3 months she went to the hospital every week or two and they used this needle. Bret was and is a favorite patient. The nurse told me after the procedure, "adults would lay on the table for at least 30 minutes and whine." She said she would come in to check on Bret 5 minutes later, but Bret would already be gone. She said she would ask, "Where is Bret?!" Bret did not so much as make a sound the entire time. She is one tough cookie.
I think this was after the doctor inserted the two expanders.
The expanders got bigger and bigger. Bret wore a scarf when she went out. She stayed home from school the entire semester and was tutored. These flowers were from her teachers.
Bret with my niece. Bret takes it all in stride and never complains!
They took out the expanders and she was cut from ear to ear taking out all the scarred skin.
Ain't no thing like a Bret Bai Ling. OK, I don't say that, but her dorky Dad says it all the time.
Bret's referral picture. Bret was 4 1/2 y.o. when we got her and her special need was burns. I don't know how or when it happened, but I believe she wasn't being watched and she pulled something so hot down on her she almost didn't survive. I had a volunteer from the orphanage tell me she remembered seeing her lying in the orphanage and they didn't know if she would make it or not.
When we got Bret we had never adopted one this old before, and I had no idea how I was going to feel. We walked in the room where she was sitting on the orphanage director's lap. She sat there softly sobbing. She wanted no part in going away with these two complete strangers. I took one look at her heart breaking and it made mine break too. I instantly fell in love with her and thought she was the cutest thing I ever saw. We both sit there crying for about 20 minutes. The director finally gave up, because Bret wasn't going to stop crying. We took Bret by the hand and she was forever ours.
This story kind of surprised me, but last week Mike took the kids to a college campus for NEVER2YOUNG. It was an event for middle schoolers for Christ. He said after the concert Bret was leading the way, but she was going the wrong way. She got way ahead so he yelled for her to come back. I think she "may" have gotten a little assertive. After all, her pride was at stake. Mike said he told Remi "man she is cocky." Remi says "Yeah, she is the only one allowed to talk back to Mom."
And this is the way her report card always looks.