What do you think of when you see pictures like this?

Doesn't it look like life is just wonderful? Daddy and daughter, united at last. And it looks like they're both having a great time.

How about this?

Awww...they're all playing together so happily and sharing. They get along so well, don't they?

Well, I am here today to let you know that it has been hard the past few days. Sure, we've got those happy moments of glee as Daddy is playing with us or the peaceful moments when all the kids seem to be playing together. But in between there are those hard times as well. Like the screaming and crying because we don't like our dinner, or when we want to brush our own teeth, or when we don't want to wear our shoes when we go out. Going to the bathroom is a big ordeal too. We have gotten over the fear of the toilet but habits are still unpredictable. More often than not we are having to change dirty pull-ups. (And I thought I was done with diapers!)

Now, at the risk of sounding like a really bad mother, I will be honest: I sometimes feel like I was handed an animal, not a child. We have been bewildered at times wondering how we are going to get through to her. We get blank stares and wonder what is going on in her mind. Although she is seven, she acts more like a two-year-old. In many ways Jonathan has already passed her up.

So a part of our time has been sad. Sad because we know this is going to be an uphill climb. Sad because she will not be like our other children. There has been a time of grieving along with the frustration.

However, what is helping me keep on going is the fact that I promised. When she was handed to us, we were told that we still had a few hours to decide whether we wanted her or not. If we didn't feel like she was a good "fit" for our family, we could send her back. We knew that we weren't going to do that, but there were times when I wondered, "What in the world am I doing?"

At the Civil Affairs Office in Nanning, we were formally asked if we were willing to accept her into our family forever. We promised that we would. And that was that. From that point on, there was no turning back. We promised.

I'm glad that we made that decision back then, for it has helped me to remind myself to keep going. And I am sure that we are going to be tested on that promise, over and over and over in the days to come.

But she is now our girl. Forever. For better or worse. And because we promised, we are going to plug through these hard days. I just wanted to share the difficulties in adoption as well as the good times, for I am sure that there will be those moments as well. Just as she is stubborn, so she is also happy (and forgiving!). We have enjoyed watching her personality unfold--the good and the bad.

This has made me realize how committed God is to me, His adopted daughter. I am sure that I have done things that have frustrated and angered him. And I am sure that there are moments when I feel His pleasure. But whatever he feels about me at the moment, I can know with confidence that I will always be His because He promised.