"Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." Proverbs 24:12

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.”- William Butler Yeats

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hidden in Plain Sight...a year later.

I recently read this short article written by Mark Clark, and it made my thoughts immediately think back to our precious, Anna Grace Fengqin.

"It was a brisk January 2004 day in Washington DC as the young, nondescript musician emerged from the Metro subway train in L'Enfant Station. Wearing blue jeans and a long sleeve t-shirt, with a Washington Nationals cap on his head, he selected a spot against the wall. He removed his cherished violin from its small case, placed a few dollar bills and pocket change in the case as seed money, and turned to face the morning foot traffic. He began to play. In the course of the next 43 minutes, 6 classical pieces were performed; 1097 people passed by, 7 stopped long enough to appreciate the music and made donations to the violin case totaling $32. and change. The violinist played a selection of classic greats that have endured the ages rather than catchy pop tunes. By the way, the violinist was Joshua Bell, 39 year old internationally acclaimed virtuoso playing his Stradivarius. Three days before he had played to a full house at the Boston Symphony Hall where merely good tickets cost over $100. and two weeks later to a standing room only crowd in Baltimore. He is a Grammy award winning international star who was virtually ignored by the crowd hurrying to work."

Lu Feng Qin, now known as our Anna Grace, was placed by God in our hearts and home, as our priceless treasure hidden in plain sight. Today marks the one year anniversary of Anna Grace joining our family, and becoming our daughter and sister.

As many of you are aware, Scott and I both knew that God had led us to Anna Grace. There was never, ever a question about that. But just days after coming home with her. I questioned many times, "Why?" I couldn't understand why God would want someone like me to take on such a great task, not to mention what was happening to the dynamics in our home. My heart truly ached for her pain, but after days turned into months and seeing such small steps forward with giant leaps backwards, I didn't think I had the strength as a mother to raise such a child. I felt that we were both walking around with a big, black cloud hovering over us, and worse yet, I felt I had let down not only our daughter, but the very God who gave me this precious gift. God knew better.

It is only now, a year later (and still not at the end of the tunnel) that I can step aside from the daily grind and truly acknowledge the mastery of the Creator as I view my beautiful daughter, who was indeed hidden in plain sight to me. At times, I would be the one wanting to just give her a passing glance and pocket change, but it was God who made me realize that she deserved my all. She is His masterpiece, His perfect creation, and shouldn't a priceless masterpiece be worthy of complete admiration and the utmost of care? Especially when I knew she was a gift from the King of Kings?

I've learned so much from Anna Grace. She has taught me patience. She has brought me closer to our Lord than I've ever been at times. She has made me see that He could turn desperate situations (and trust me at times I felt desperate) into loving moments, all for His glory.

I will never forget that day when we walked into the Civil Affairs building in Hefei. I had created dreams and expectations that would be crushed within days. She wanted nothing to do with me. I patiently waited. I prayed and I gave it to God. Nothing changed. I prayed more. Things improved ever-so-slightly. But the look of despise and distrust in her eyes when we were close was very much still alive.

For months we had holding time several times a day. I learned to be able to differentiate her strong willed personality from her attachment struggles. She learned slowly that it was "ok" to be nice to Mama and that her heart would not be broken if she gave into loving me. Each day was like a small teaspoon of sugar being poured into a bucket of the most bitter of drinks. It hardly made a change in the taste, but nonetheless it was working. I kept telling myself it was working. It had to. We were in this for the long haul.

I often found myself telling her stories about little girls that were lost and scared until they found their Mamas and Daddys, and how happy they were when they realized that Mamas and Daddys loved their babies so much and would never let them go once they were united. Even after months of being home, she would not give me eye contact, but I knew that she was listening. She slowly started playing with baby dolls and I would see her begin to nurture her babies as a Mama should. After a few months, she'd whisper to her babies, softly enough for me not to hear (or so she thought) "No scared. Mama loves you."

It was heartbreaking to hug her and feel the tension between us. Her arms always in a ready position to separate us. I felt guilt for not falling immediately in love with her. She was my daughter, how could that be? It was only through prayer and the help and encouragement of many that have gone through this that I realized that it was quite normal to have those feelings. Everyone saw the outside beauty. She is indeed a stunningly beautiful child. I only saw a child that wished I didn't exist in her life. While she continued pouring her "sweetness" upon everyone around her, I kept wanting to give up. To just accept the fact that this would be our lives. Yet, my heart, the heart of a mother, knew that she needed me to hang in there.

Fast forward a year later, we still have some struggles, but oh my! That sweetness is pure as honey and how I love it! Nothing melts my heart more than when she comes running to me with that loud, high-pitched screechy voice yelling, "Big Hug" as she throws herself on me, wraps her arms around my neck and squeezes me to the point of not being able to breath. Those days of being pushed away during hugs are nearly gone, with the exception of when the big attachment monster rears its ugly head maybe once or twice every couple of months.

She loves it when she sees that I put my hair in pig tails (my reason for letting it grow now) and quickly says in a very proud tone, with her million dollar smile, "Anna Grace looks like Mama!" She loves when she can climb into my lap so that I could praise her and tell how how much I love her and how happy she makes Jesus every day. At night before going to bed she often asks me, "Does Anna Grace make Mama's heart sing?" I smile, inside and out, and answer "Yes, baby. Anna Grace makes Mama's heart sing so loud that Jesus could hear it all the way up in Heaven and it makes His heart sing."

There's no doubt that it's been a long, tough year with many tears shed, both of joy and pain. But, I smiled as I awoke this morning and reminded Scott that today was the one year anniversary of the best Father's Day gift he's ever received (she was handed to us on Father's day last year), followed by a very affirmed statement by me, "I love her so much! I can't even begin to imagine our lives without her." To which Scott, with a Daddy's heart, quickly responded "Neither could I." We both smiled.

Happy 1st Forever Family Day baby girl. We love you so much!!!! May God always bless you and remind you that your family is yours forever and ever and ever....and we love you as much as the whole wide world, and back again!


1 year ago on Father's Day, June 18, 2007

The first 3 months home.

(Notice the sadness in her face when I carry her and the arms
"held between us" in case I got too close. Also the smiles always there when held by others.)

Six months home.
(More smiles...but still keeping her distance to guard her heart.)

Finally allowing herself to love and trust! :)

(The picture in the center is one of the first times that
she put her arms around me when I asked for "Big Hug!")

Home 1 year!
Our beautiful and happy girl.

image signature


Mom To Six said...

For some reason, it won't let me leave a comment on your blog, it says unable to process request, so here is my comment...


THANK YOU for allowing others a window to your world- your struggles and your victories in the wild journey that is adoption.

I can only imagine the pain, the heartaches, and the frustration, but in the end- it's worth it, praise God!! It's worth it!!
How must God look at us- don't we have attachment issues too? But He looks upon us as we push Him away and He says, "She's worth it. Oh I love her and she's worth it!"
Praising God for the things He teaches us, even in the valleys.



PS- Happy 1 year anniversary HOME!!!

So much to do, so little time... Make every day COUNT for eternity!

Jennifer said...

Ohilda, you can't begin to know how much I needed to read that today. To hear from someone who's truly been there that it will, in fact, get better. One year...seems like an eternity today, since we've only had Logan for about 6 weeks. And yet, having both toddlers and teens, I know that the first year will be over before I turn around again. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this encouragement to keep on...

The Princess's Mommy said...

Happy Forever Family Day, Sweet Anna Grace! That sweet smile just melts my heart!

I am blessed to know you! The change in that baby girl from that day at the consulate is astounding! You are amazing!


My3Monkeys said...

Oh Happy Day!! Anna Grace truly lights the way with her smile now. You are such a strong loving mama bear. I never had any doubt that it would all work out. Give that little princess a kiss for us!

The Byrd Family said...

I loved this post. I remember this all too well with Emma Jane too. My husband used to tell me that the reason she was nice to everyone else was because she REALLy loved me the most and she was going to take everything out on me because she KNEW I loved her because I kept coming back...day after day...trying to love her. I also remember feeling like I didn't love her the same way I loved Lottie and it broke my heart to even think about it (and even type it out right now) I would pray at night for God to forgive me for feeling that way. She was just a baby and so so scared.

She is beautiful and so is her Mommy!

Starla said...


Oh, what a joy to read your post today! Happy 1 year day! God is so good that he gave Anna Grace you as a mommy, because it took your love and determination to bring her this far.

Tomorrow is our Taylor's 2 year family day. He has been a blessing since day one, and brings joy to me every day. I'm praying that I will one day experience that same joy every time daughter #3 comes in the door. I still have a hard time there, but it is getting better.

Blessings to you, Starla

The Ferrill's said...

Ohilda what a beautiful transformation your little girl has made. Sweet Anna Grace. She has the best mommy in the world...the perfect mommy for her. Ohilda, I'm just overflowing with tears and chills and smiles...God is so awesome!
And the way you wrote this...like her little heart was "hidden in plain sight"...so perfect!
Her smiles and bright eyes tell the story of healing and love.
Happy Gotcha Day Anniversary!
SO blessed to know you!

Waitingfaithfully said...

The Metamorphosis of Anna Grace, it's a beautiful thing! Ohilda, as others have said, (and I have said before), thank you for your transparency and honesty. Your sharing through the darkest days, has made a difference for many, and taught us all much, and for that I am grateful. I wish you hadn't had to struggle so long and so hard--but in your struggles you touched many, and God got the glory--and still does. I loved Holly's comment- Anna's healing process truly has been a picture of our own relationships with our Heavenly Father, who never gives up on us, ever!

Bless you Ohilda for never giving up on Anna, and never giving up on your Lord--no matter how dark it got. The picture of her hugging your neck "BIG" says it all! Anna Grace needed you and God knew that, and He knew what you were capable of even in your most insecure, unsure moments. What a testimony to His love for you and for Anna Grace, and for all of His children! He is faithful!

Happy one year home Anna Grace! You are one brave girl--just like your mama!

Blessings dear friend~


We celebrate one month with our sweet Teddi tomorrow! What a month it has been. Please know that I went to China equipped, much in part to what you have shared along your journey with Anna Grace. My heart is full, and at times completely overwhelmed with the magnitude of my new daughter . . . and all she has packed into her tiny three year old self! Each day a new step forward with God's help, great exhaustion, greater joy! Thank you my friend for your love and encouragement! T~

mom2-4boys said...


Anna Grace has come a long way in your love. Happy One year!!!

God is good!

Tracey and Family

Aus said...

Hey Ohilda - I know Marie posted on HASWCC - but I had to chime in here.

I remember 'back in the day' reading your blog and wondering if you were pretty 'out there' - but - you're the Mama - and I'd support your decisions as being right for your family regardless.

Today - being there - I realize just how much your journey paved the way for ours ... and 'thanks' is a pretty weak word for it!

And when you look at AG's pics - wow - the story is right there on her face and body language...you (and Scott and the rest of your kin) have done a wonderful job of returning joy to a child....and that's maybe a job description of 'parenting' (at least in part!)

Thanks for your Witness - your efforts - and your support....continue in a like and similar fashion!

hugs -
aus and fam

Sherri said...

What a sweet transformation. You have done a much better job than I have at taking pictures of child #6. I really need to take more pictures.... it is amazing to see the progression of her attachment. You could seriously make a presentation at an International Adoption seminar with this display.

Thanks for stopping by my blog!


redmaryjanes said...

An incredible post!
I would love to put a piece of it on No Place Like Home. I think it it will be helpful to others.
Let me know if that's ok.

Julie said...

Happy Anniversary. You are such an eloquent writer of your thoughts and feelings. I'm so glad you and Anna Grace found each other one year ago. Amazing how God works isn't it.

Michelle said...

Thank you for sharing such a deeply personal story. I am so touched by reading this. I am getting in late in your journey, but it sounds like you have had quite a year, full of emotional ups and downs. Your faith, strength, perseverance and obvious love for Anna Grace is so apparent. I believe God chose you for your capacity to love and heal her wounded heart. What a beautiful sight of Anna Grace with her arms wrapped so tightly around you.

Lin Lin & Ping Sang said...

Happy One Year!! I still remember rushing to the computer each and every morning for the latest update. What an incredible journey you were on, I loved reading every word. You are still an inspiration to me, someday I hope to be where you are in my faith. Anna Grace is beautiful...congratulations!!


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