Namie family

Tracy and Stephen Namie sit with their two adopted daughters, Tatum, 11 months old, and Jordan, 7, in their Catonsville home. The Namie family will celebrate Independence Day with the 1st birthday of their daughter Tatum on July 4th, whom they adopted from China as an infant. (Photo by Nate Pesce / July 2, 2012)

On the eve of adopting their second daughter from China, Stephen and Tracy Namie looked out their hotel room on a late December night in Nanjing and saw fireworks bursting on the horizon.

To this day, the Catonsville residents don't know why those fireworks were set off in the city on China's eastern shore.

But the moment fit the fabric of their expanding family perfectly.

The next day, the Namies, including daughter, Jordan, now 7, welcomed Tatum into their family.


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Tatum will celebrate her first birthday July 4.

"We promised her fireworks every year," Tracy Namie joked.

"She might not get them this year," her husband of 13 years responded. "She's a little young. They might spook her."

Still the family will participate in Catonsville's Fourth of July Parade and use Tatum's response to the blaring fire trucks to gauge her readiness for the popping noises above later that night.

For the Namies, this year's Independence Day will be a combined celebration of Tatum's and the nation's birthday, complete with a cookout with some local relatives that could become a tradition.

"Someday, she'll want pizza for her birthday, and we'll have to say, 'Sorry, that'll be on the fifth,'" Tracy Namie joked.

Aside from some crankiness following two surgeries to repair a cleft palate and cleft lip, Tatum has adjusted to her new family and community swimmingly.

"It's gone amazingly well. She's an extremely happy baby," her mother said. "She's just filled with joy."

In other words, Tatum is living up to the name her parents chose after seeing her wide smile in adoption photos.

Tatum means "cheerful one who brings joy," according to her father.

The Namies pursued adoption because of infertility issues and expanded their family in 2005 with the addition of Jordan, then 10 months old.

"We were very excited to go through the process again," Stephen Namie said. "We always knew that we wanted more than one child."

A shake-up in China's adoption regulations slowed the adoption of a second child as the Namies would have to refile adoption papers each year, they said.

After three years of waiting, they looked into other options, including adopting a child with special needs.

"We did find from an agency that those referrals were moved along a little faster," Stephen Namie said, citing a need in some cases for the child to get proper medical care promptly and smaller demand for children with special needs.

"It really was a decision not to be made lightly," Tracy Namie said. "We really had to take some time to think and pray."