I figured I would drop in with another fun Riley update. She is nearing her 4th birthday and she is growing and thriving. She talks so much now and her test scores are constantly showing she has caught up to her hearing peers with her language skills! She had developed some sensory issues, which aren’t too surprising especially with her Deafness, we are working through with her OT at her school.

Riley loves to ice skate and we think she may have a natural talent for it! We will see as she grows. She has also been interested in gymnastics a lot and really enjoys those classes. She also loves to learn and seems to be a very bright little girl. She is so silly and always tries to make people laugh.

She still loves beluga whales and we just took her to Sea World in Orlando to let her get up close to them and she got to pet and feed it a fish! This was her second uo close encounter with a beluga; the first was at the age of 2 at the GA aquarium!

Another fun thing for our family now is our gradual immersion into the Deaf community. I’ve been taking ASL courses at my local college as we work to become bilingual with her. The Deaf community has really come along side us to help us make sure she is connected into her culture as a Deaf person and that we as hearing parents are given guidance and support as we learn to sign. We are among a very tiny percentage of hearing parents of Deaf children who learn to sign and look to the community for guidance and support. I believe it’s only like 10-15% of hearing people who will give their child access to sign language in addition to cochlear implants.

We are LOVING IT so so much. Riley was even given her very first sign name and she is so excited about it. She’s been gaining more interest in signing the more we take her to Deaf events and let her interact with my professors and Deaf friends! It’s been amazing. She has also started to understand why we sign and that sometimes her implants stop working and that ASL gives her constant access and communication with us even if she cannot hear us.

We are also in a really sweet stage where she is starting to learn about Jesus and who He is and how much He loves her. Today we asked what she learned at church and she said “I learn bout Jesus.” We asked what she learned about Him and she said, “He love me and love everybody.”

It’s an absolute joy to be her parents and we are forever thankful for the amazing gift you all gave us to help us bring her home! We are currently deep in prayer and consideration about what God has for our family next. We thought we were done with Riley after we had a miscarriage in September of our first and only pregnancy (via “adopted” embryos). However, we are both feeling called and lead to adopt again, but now the questions are when…and where. We have considered India (Deaf toddler specific) and are considering domestic infant again as well. It is a bit nerve wracking to be honest but we are trust that God has a plan and what He is leading us to is bigger than we are.

We know these are major decisions and come with a lot of work, waiting, and hard days ahead and we appreciate your prayers as we seek the Lord and the direction He is asking us to go…and for the courage to say YES and move forward when that happens. It’s just so easy to get in our own way and stuck on our own ideas!

I will share some pictures (some are from our Disney/Sea World trip last week).

Once again, thank you so very much for your gift to our family! I will always try and send updates from time to time 🙂 I’m sure it’s super fun for you all to see the difference you made in the lives of the families you supported.