9 Months

On the 18th we headed out in the morning to go visit Everett and Leo’s home.  This place and these people are so incredibly special and it felt fitting on Everett’s 9 month anniversary to be among people who loved him so well before we ever could.

I worried while in process for Leo that traveling back to China would feel like it did when we we’re there with Everett.  I’m so thankful at how different things actually feel.  The feel is so different because Everett and Leo are so different, but our grief has remained the same.  I have cried one million tears on this trip because everything reminds me of our special time here with Everett.  I actually feel extra tapped into my grief walking such familiar paths I walked with one son and now walk with another.

As we walked through the gate and onto the campus their director met us scooped Leo up.  We went first to their track area and I loved how comfortable Leo was in his arms.  I love that he wanted to tote him around.  There were some kiddos out and about on the track and grassy area playing and walking.  The first thing my eyes noticed were all these rainbow pinwheels they had hanging everywhere.  I stared at the pinwheels spinning while also watching Leo take off running on the track.  I loved the rainbow pinwheels and felt like they perfectly represented our boy on this special day.

Everett was about 21 months older than Leo so he was definitely more developmentally and cognitively  prepared for us and leaving his home.  Everett grieved, but also didn’t want to leave Josh’s arms when we went back to his home.  He understood so well what his nannies had prepared him for…as to what was taking place in us becoming a family.  Sweet Leo is and was very different.  He’s much younger and is developmentally behind a bit and upon seeing his room and friends and nannies he set back into his comfort.  This is everything he’s known and loved and he was perfectly fine with us just moving on and letting him get back to his life.  We reminded our kids that even though Leo had been deeply loved and cared for that kiddos belong in families.  It was extremely hard watching him cry and fight and not understand why he couldn’t just stay.

We visited his room and met his nannies…all of which we’re Everett’s nannies too.  We took them our favorite trail mixes, chocolates made in Nashville, key fobs and books we had made full of Everett’s photos.  I loved watching them flip through the books.  Leo was walking around loving on his friends, eating snacks and kissing his nannies.  This kid is not lacking in affection that’s for sure.  Everyone just made over him and gave him all the hugs and kisses.  His main nanny cried and cried so of course I cried and cried too.  Watching our children be loved by such brave, selfless people is humbling and inspiring and the amount of gratitude we have for them is insurmountable.

As we were leaving Everett’s main nurse came over to tell me one last thing.  We ended up in the sweetest embrace…my head buried in her chest…she was crying…I was crying…and me telling her how sorry I was.  I had this deep, yet unrealistic, fear about going back and all of these lovely and amazing people who had loved Everett so well being angry with us about him dying…like we didn’t do our best.  We really really needed them to know how sorry we were.  We really needed to recognize their loss too in Everett dying.  He was their boy first and I wanted them to know I was sorry for their sadness and pain.  My favorite thing was hearing all the “Fu Shuai”s among all these priceless people.  They kept saying his name and my ears and heart heard it every single time.

We visited Leo’s classroom next.  He went in and immediately started doing his thing.  He pulled up his little chair and got to playing with his friends and play-do.  He tried leading calendar time and also played a few instruments.  He gave his teacher some snuggles and again was ready to stay.  Lots and lots of tears were shed by our little guy and it was heart wrenching.

Since we had seen the rest of the facilities already we decided to head out the playground instead and let everyone work out some energy.  The weather was perfection and everyone loved playing.

After we got back to our hotel Josh shared he’d captured Leo’s first face plant on camera.  And then I died.  Seriously, I could not stop laughing.  Poor kid!

When it was time to leave their director walked us out.  He kept telling Leo all about Josh and me.  He held him close and we took a few more photos of them together.  He got teary eyed…I full on cried and so did Leo.  It was heavy and weighted and I wanted us all to just long-term hug.  Hug and never stop.  It was so emotional and I felt emptied out afterwards.

For lunch we went to our special place for lunch.  I asked Wendy if we could go specifically on the 18th and she made it happen.  They have he best dumplings and we ate there with Everett after a hard morning for him.  I’ll never forget how he started to come out of his shell during that lunch.  It’s a special place and I wanted us to share it with Leo as well.

It was a very emotional day to say the least.  It was a lot for everyone, but especially for Leo.  That night after dinner in our hotel room I cleaned him up and put him in a pair of pajamas that were Amon’s.  I couldn’t help but think how brave he was.  How brave Everett was.  How brave all these people who run their home and care for each kiddo are.  They had all been so gracious to us on such a hard day.  They owed us nothing and yet they gave us everything.  I hope we displayed our gratefulness.  I hope they know how crazy in love we are with both our Everett and our Leo.


  1. Such a beautiful place. Everything looks so amazing. Praying for you guys!

  2. Beautifully said, Laura. And that last picture made my heart catch in my throat. So many hugs for the Kelleys <3

  3. SandI rice says:

    Yep, he’s a Kelley all right……look at that hand in the air! ‍♂️

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