Katina Marie WeiBo Christofferson

Published October 8, 2015 by megchristo

I know….I have only known Kat for less than 24 hours, but this young lady is remarkable!  She is breathtaking, funny, considerate, outgoing, sporty, and determined.  I was so nervous about meeting her.  I was worried she would hate us. Let me share with you a little about our first day together.

Matt and I left the hotel at 7:00 am to head to the orphanage.  Both of us were so nervous we could barely speak.  At breakfast we kept looking at each other.  Without saying a word we were saying simultaneously to one another, “What are we doing?  It will be fine!  Are we sure?  This will be great, right?!”  I am sure onlookers could pick up our anxiety.  It took about one and a half hours to get to the orphanage.  The day was beautiful.  The sky was clear and the sun was shining bright.  We felt this was a very good sign of things to come because the previous two days in Beijing were very hazy due to the pollution, and you could not see the sky or the sun.  As we were driving our guide said that today is a very lucky day….October 8th.  The number 8 is very lucky.  MJ and I agreed as we feel 8 children will be very lucky too!

Our guide had troubles finding the orphanage.  She said that there are very few adoptions out of this orphanage.  She said that the orphanage director said that they hadn’t had an adoption since 2011.  Once we arrived some very kind orphanage staff led us to a meeting room.  There were some older children in the courtyard when we arrived.  Our arrival created a lot of buzz and excitement.  We waited for about 10 minutes in the meeting room before they brought in Kat.  She bounced through the door saying, “Hello!”  I jumped off of the couch, and we both hugged each other for a good minute before we let go.  She then went over to give Matt a big hug!  All of these worries and fears I had were demolished in the first 2 minutes of knowing her.  We then spoke politely between us, the guide, Kat, and the orphanage staff and director.  We thanked each other for what we had done for Kat and what we will do for her.  We then took a few minutes to FaceTime the kids at home, so they could meet Kat.  They were all very excited and happy to meet their new “big sister”!  I think the orphanage staff enjoyed seeing our family too.  When we were leaving children shouted from their windows to Kat to stay in touch and to send pictures.  It was very adorable.

We then went to get our first official picture taken together and to sign paperwork.  Since Kat is 13, she had to sign paperwork like MJ and I agreeing to us as much as we were agreeing to her.  This was a first for us, and I rather enjoyed the moment.  When she finished signing, she looked up and said this was a lucky day!  Matt and I agreed!  How amazing that we all feel equally lucky and blessed!  Eight has always been my lucky number!  I was born on the 8th, we now will have 8 children, and we met Kat on the 8th!  Lucky indeed!  We asked her if she wanted us to call her her Chinese name or Kat.  She requested Kat, but she also requested that we shorten our last name.  LOL!  I said that I had been trying for that for years!  We all got a good laugh out of that one.

We then went to eat a nice Chinese lunch.  We had Peking Duck and other delicious food.  Kat seemed so happy.  She talked about wanting to be a doctor and a Chinese language teacher and a soldier.  You could see her future open up for her right there at lunch.  The endless list of opportunities and possibilities became real for her over Peking Duck, and she was embracing everything.  I loved seeing her mind race with ideas!  I just kept nodding my head yes, and saying, “Yes!  You can do that!”

After lunch we did a little shopping and went to see the famous snack street of Beijing.  I could really see her funny personality then.  She thought it was pretty hilarious that everyone kept staring at me.  She began mimicking them.  She’d look at me with big eyes, and act like she was going to run into a pole because she couldn’t stop looking at me.  I thought this was so funny! Most of the time we walked arm and arm, and we both had goofy, happy grins on our faces.  She also couldn’t get over how tall MJ and I are.  She was constantly worried MJ would hit his head.  She’d cover her head with her hands, look back at MJ and say, “Dad!” to caution him.  MJ would smile and say, “Thank you!” as he would duck a little.  On snack street she got some sort of a glazed fruit on a stick.  She had me try one.  I am not sure what exactly it is because the fruit was very tart.  On snack street we saw tarantulas, snakes, worms, bugs, sea horses, squids, and other interesting eats.  Kat wondered why I didn’t get anything….hummmmmmm….maybe tomorrow I will try snake…..or not!

Well, as you can see we are very smitten with Kat.  She really is amazing!  I can’t believe she came within days of never being able to have a family of her own.  She is a gem, and MJ and I are feeling very blessed to call her our daughter.  I can’t believe that once again fear almost got the better of us.  Now….we know there will be challenges as there is with any child, but she is amazing!  Her soul is so shiny!  She deserves all of the opportunities life can throw at her.  I can’t wait to continue to see her blossom in our family.  MJ and I can’t wait for the kids to meet her in person.  She will fit in beautifully!  They will absolutely love her as much as we already do!

Thank you all so much for the prayers!  We feel them, and hope you will keep them coming!

Dad, Kat, and Mom outside of the orphanage

Dad, Kat, and Mom outside of the orphanage

On the drive to sign paperwork, we decided to take a mother daughter selfie!

On the drive to sign paperwork, we decided to take a mother daughter selfie!

Signing her new name...Katina Marie WeiBo Christofferson! It will take some practice! :)

Signing her new name…Katina Marie WeiBo Christofferson! It will take some practice! 🙂

Snack Street was very interesting!

Snack Street was very interesting!

Why Not?!

Published September 25, 2015 by megchristo

MJ and I have been debating back in forth how to do this…when to do this…if to do this.  Many options have been thought of. The option that best fits our Christofferson style is to announce via our blog.  So here it is….

We are adopting two more daughters from China!

There…that wasn’t so hard.  Hello….are you still there?  Hello?  Yes!  We know that we are crazy.  In MJ’s defense, really it’s me who is crazy….like completely crazy!  MJ just loves me enough, and believes in the strength of our marriage and family to say yes.  😉  He really is perfectly normal and logical.  Me on the other hand…well you know….I think I can do anything….almost anything….actually…I don’t think I can climb Everest….so there’s that.  I do have limits!

A little about our daughters.  We will first be adopting an almost 14 year old girl from Beijing.  We will be naming her Katina Marie WeiBo, and calling her Kat.  Katina is my sister-in-law’s middle name, and I adore her.  The middle name Marie is after a  best friend of mine who is always super supportive and loving of me and my family.  From the videos we have seen of Kat, she looks absolutely determined, funny, and sweet.  What a perfect match for this tribe.  We have been racing against the clock to get to her in time.  Her 14th birthday is on October 13th.  If we don’t have her adoption finalized but the 12th, she will not be able to be adopted.  After a lot of uncertainty, we now know that we will meet her on the 8th, and we will beat her birthday.  We became aware of Kat in the late night hours of August 11th.  We have felt very led to her, so we have moved heaven and earth to make this happen.  On August 7th, Carsten had a bit of an accident.  All ended very well…he didn’t have a scratch on him, and he just needed a couple shots of Rocephin.  However in the midst of the accident I promised God that I would pay him back for the miracle of allowing me to keep Carsten.  I promised that when I could be someone’s hope or someone’s miracle to make it clear, and I would follow through without hesitation.  Then the evening of August 11th I was scrolling through FB before bed.  I saw a post written by a young lady who had been adopted by a family in Maryland as a teen.  She posted using her mom’s profile.  She asked for a family to please adopt her friend in Beijing.  She said that her friend wanted a family so badly, but that she had given up hope because it was too close to her 14th birthday.  She told us that her family didn’t have time to hesitate.  That they must step forward now.  As I read the post I had a complete sense of calm and knowing wash over me.  I knew that this was what we were meant to do.  This was the person we were meant to give hope to…that she would be our daughter.  Calm in the same paragraph as teenage girl seems odd…I know.  I immediately FB messaged her mom to find out Kat’s Chinese name and birthdate.  Oddly enough she was just leaving Iowa after visiting a mutual friend, but we did not know of each other before this interaction.  What are the chances of that?  I then sent an email to our adoption agency asking if they could locate her file, and if we could add her to our adoption (we were already planning on adopting our other daughter, but were in the early, early stages and still looking at 10 months of paperwork and process ahead of us).  CCAI called me the next morning.  Judy from CCAi said, “Wow!  What do you know about this girl?  Her file is 6-7 years old with no updates.”  I told her a little about the why.  She then said, “Megan, if you look at this on paper it isn’t possible.  However if anyone can do it, it’s you.”  We then started the process of beating the clock.  Luckily we have had help from Iowa’s two senators and our congressman.  Senator Ernst’s office has done a ton of pushing on our behalf.  CCAI has so much experience they knew all of the buttons to push and levers to pull. It was certainly a team effort.  I may or may not have also sent a letter to the White House.  They actually had someone call us back.  Overkill you say?  Have you met me?

Our other daughter will become the baby of the family.  She is 2 1/2, and is in Zhengzhou.  She is adorable, and looks like a strong-willed little girl.  Again…what a perfect fit for our family.  We have decided to name her Genevieve Jo Li, and we will call her Eve.  Genevieve is the patron saint of Paris.  MJ and I LOVED Paris, so we have warm feelings towards the name.  Also my sister from another mister’s middle name is Jeanne.  She told me that her mother loved the name Genevieve, and always wanted to use it.  Jo will be after my mother-in-law who is always here when we need her.

We will start our journey to our daughters on October 5th.  We are very blessed to have such a strong village here to hold the fort down while we are away.  I can’t say enough positive things about Sean and Jo.  MJ and I don’t have to worry about a thing knowing that they can handle our tribe of 6 like it’s a normal Tuesday.  However if you would like to bring over dinner or take the kids to the park or anything like that I think they would love the help.   I am so grateful for them.  Maybe we need to adopt a 9th to call him Sean…. 😉  Just kidding!  Eight is Enough….wait…that sounds vaguely familiar. 😉

Please send us prayers and positive thoughts as we embark on this journey.  Please pray for our daughters’ hearts as this will surely be a tough transition on them.

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Here are our daughters.  Remember Kat’s file is 6-7 years old, so her picture is very out dated.  We can’t wait to meet both of them, and bring them home to our family!

The Girls’ Video

Published August 4, 2015 by megchristo

Once I posted Bo’s adoption journey video, I realized I never shared the girls’ video.  I had to search our computer, but finally found it.  I can’t believe how much they have changed in 2 1/2 years, or how fast time has gone.

The first visits to their orphanages changed both Matt and I forever.  Some things you just can’t unsee….not that I think we should.  If you close your eyes to a problem, doesn’t mean the problem doesn’t exist.  I am so happy MJ and I opened our eyes and hearts to adoption.  Elle, Mae, and Bo have only changed our lives for the better.  They are such blessings, and we couldn’t love them more if we tried!  I thank God everyday that they are our children.

Finally….Our Journey to Bo!

Published July 26, 2015 by megchristo

On Tuesday, it will have been one year since MJ, Gabe, Elle, and I traveled to China to officially make Bo a part of our family.  Sooooooo…better late than never…..here is a video of our journey to Bo!

One year later I can’t imagine our family without Bo.  His adoption and acclimation to our family and vice versa has been so….dare I say….easy.  He is an amazingly sweet, clever, and loving little guy!  What a blessing he is!  As always, I am happy, happy, happy to talk to anyone about our experience adopting.  I hope that our video may inspire you to think about adoption, or at least smile with us as you watch our treasured moments.

A huge THANK YOU to three awesome people and photographers.  First to Renee Booe for capturing the wonderful pictures of us waiting for Bo, meeting Bo, and of the four of us 5 days after our first meeting.  She left her family for one week to come and capture these precious moments for us, and left one of my great friends!  Secondly, to Amy Doerring and her son Cole who met us in a Beijing park to snap some super awesome pictures of Elle.  I can’t see or think of Lotus flowers without thinking of our afternoon together sweating our way through the park.  Are you sure Cole can’t wait for Elle? 🙂 Last by not least, to Britney Brown who met us in the Des Moines airport to capture the first time we were together as a family of eight!!  I think you can tell we missed each other….a lot!

Don’t Watch the Watchers

Published July 16, 2015 by megchristo

When Carsten was first born a little over 9 years ago, I realized and feared the inevitable.  We were to become a watched family and Carsten a watched child.  Doctors, teachers, therapists, family, peers, strangers, and even I would take to observing, evaluating, and judging Carsten.  It would take me years to compartmentalize these “watches,” and some days I still work on it.  Trying to figure out when it’s appropriate, when to call off the hounds, and when to ignore it.  It takes a certain amount of self confidence to say, “no.”  It’s an art to figure out when we just let Carsten be a kid, and when we let our family just be.

Then you have the public watchers.  When Carsten was a baby, I remember wondering when we were out in public if people “knew.”  I wondered if they could tell that he had Down syndrome.  I readied myself for people to come up to me and make small talk about him:  he was lucky to have us, what a gift he would be, they grew up next door to a boy with Down syndrome, etc.  Most of the time people were very kind and well intentioned.  It just became exhausting.  I perfected the blank stare off into space look with a kind, aloof smile.  I avoided eye contact at all costs.  I could have walked past the president, and not realized it.  To this day, this is still my primary mode of function in public.  If I walk right past you without acknowledgment, I apologize.  It’s just an automatic survival skill at this point.  It is like a reflex I no longer have control over.

The time that I realized that I had mastered this skill was when we took a family vacation to Hawaii.  Gabe was 5 and Carsten was 2.  We had gone down to the pool to spend the afternoon splashing around.  The four of us were thoroughly enjoying ourselves.  It was getting close to dinner, so MJ took Carsten up for a bath.  Gabe wanted to spend some more time in the hot tub before dinner, so we went to relax in the hot tub.  Then an older lady started up a conversation.  She basically recounted to me the high points of our entire afternoon.  She then talked about her amazement at MJ and I’s ability to bring Carsten all the way to Hawaii on vacation.  She then put the cherry on top, “Bless you.  I don’t know how you do it.”  I remember being puzzled at what she was talking about, and being creeped out that she had watched us all afternoon.  I just smiled confused and said, “We are blessed.”  Then another guy and gal jumped in the conversation talking about our family, and how fun it was to watch us together.  Again I was creeped out.  What if Carsten had had a bad afternoon and been cranky….which happens to all of us.  What would those people have walked away thinking?  I remember walking away with a heavy heart.  Gabe and I went to the room, and I cried to MJ. Together we celebrated the fact that we didn’t even take notice of the watchers.  We did, however, realize that our interactions and attitudes towards each other one afternoon at the pool could define for people their personal truths about children with Down syndrome.  Not only that, but even after a good experience one lady didn’t “know how she would do it.”  That’s when I realized I not only can’t watch the watchers, but I shouldn’t listen either.

Fast forward to today….MJ and I have a beautiful, unique, multi-racial family with two children with Down syndrome.  We are a sight to be seen and watched when we are in public.  Not only have the watchers multiplied, but the voices have gotten louder.  I still do not understand why our family brings out so many opinions and judgements.  How do we affect them?  I just don’t get it.  I still struggle with my abilities to drown out the voices and opinions.  Some days I am better at it than others.  Some days it just down right hurts.

I also now realize that when other families go out in public with us I have to prepare their children for the stares and comments.  I prep them to just smile and keep walking.  It seems strange that I have to do this, but I don’t want them to be caught off guard.  After all they don’t live in our world everyday, so they aren’t use to it like our children are.  I then wonder what will happen to our children when they are adults.  For instance, what will Gabe think or feel when he and his wife and child can go out to dinner without being a spectacle.  Will he notice the difference?  Will he be relieved?  Will he create a family like ours out of choice? I don’t know.  I don’t think he knows.  It will be fun to watch.  Then I will turn into a watcher.  A person lovingly smiling at him and his siblings admiring the life that they have chosen.  A life that makes them happy…..whatever it consists of that makes them unique and beautiful.Family sitting in color

The Lost Years

Published February 22, 2015 by megchristo

As adoptive parents, we accept that there will be a lot of missing puzzle pieces in our son or daughter’s early years.  We know that the same questions we have our child will struggle with 100 times more.  We spend many hours laying in bed preparing ourselves for the inevitable questions…trying to think of the best words to say when the time comes.  Praying we handle things “right”.  Praying for guidance.  We think a lot about our children’s birth parents and previous care givers, and wish there was a way to let them know that the baby they love and think of daily is still loved, safe, and healthy.  We wish that when we went to the pediatrician we had more history to give them vs a blank stare and a shrug. What happens when all of the sudden there is glimpse into your child’s lost years?  That is exactly what has happened to me this weekend.  I have found several videos of Bo’s early years.  Best yet they were of the moments that every parent cherishes…the first steps!  Maria’s Big House of Hope has promised to find me more!  WHAT AN AMAZING GIFT!  In the mean time I have scoured their blog during the time Bo (aka Julian) was there.  Every time I see his beautiful baby face and electric smile, I burst into tears.  Another puzzle piece slides into place!  THANK YOU MBHOH!!!!

http://showhope.org/julian/ As well as complete gratitude, I have felt like this gift has stirred something inside of me.  I am feeling called….to what I am not sure yet.  Perhaps it’s as simple as doing fundraising for MBHOH.  Maybe it’s more.  I don’t know yet.  Perhaps it’s as simple as sharing this with all of you, and urge you to once again consider adoption.  There are so many children that just need families to take the leap of faith and say YES!  Part of the reason I have been so emotional this weekend is realizing that Bo had such great love and attention for a period of time, and then he was called back to the orphanage where he was one in 850 children.  He sat there for more than 4 years….waiting….hoping…..longing to feel that kind of love again.  It’s no wonder Bo doesn’t want to leave my side.  Sigh….  Please consider adoption.  Please.  All these children want is love….the love of a family.

Hope

Published February 20, 2015 by megchristo

Today has been a tough day for several reasons.  It was one of those days that you start to lose hope and faith.  Then the day turned on a dime.  Isn’t it amazing how that can happen?  It all changed with a FaceBook message from my friend Renee Booe.  She had told me that Show Hope contacted her a few weeks ago because of her posts of the pictures she took of “Gotcha Day” with Bo.  They thought they may have cared for Bo at Maria’s Big House of Hope.  She reached out to me at that time to get Bo’s Chinese name and DOB.  We had no record that he had spent time at Maria’s Big House of Hope, so I really didn’t hold out that much hope.

Then late this afternoon Renee said she heard back from Show Hope, and to check my email.  I opened my email, and there was a BEAUTIFUL email from Show Hope.  The lady that emailed me, Cathy, said that they had indeed cared for Bo.  When he was in their care, he went by the name of Julien.  She said that he was very loved!  That I can completely relate too.  Bo is so darn loveable!!!  She also said that knowing he now had a family would be of great comfort and celebration for his nannies.  I sent her back an email thanking her and the staff for taking such extraordinary care of Bo.  I have spent many days wondering how it was possible that Bo survived.  With all of his scars, how did he find the will to live?  Now I know!  He knew love!  He received great care!  He was nursed back to health!  He had hope in his heart because he knew love.

Oh did I mention they attached a picture?  The first picture we have of our precious son.  Are you ready for some cuteness?

Bo Bo at Maria's Big House of Hope

As you can imagine, I quickly emailed them back thanking them!  Of course I had to attach pictures of Bo now, so they can see his shining face again.  Hopefully my email brings as much happiness to them as their email did to me!

Hope….what a beautiful thing!  Thank you Show Hope!  Thank you Maria’s Big House of Hope!  Thank you!!

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