Saturday, December 30, 2017

Little miss update with lots of smiles and laughs!

Lots of giggles, smiles & laughs

Little miss enjoying a dinner date with big sister at Kneaders!  She absolutely LOVES to go out to eat!   She is super picky when eating at home and we never know what she will be willing to eat...sometimes even her favorite foods she will completely reject..but take her out to eat and you'd think you took a whole football team out to dinner!

When I tell people she is a BIG eater I get the feeling they think I am exaggerating!  Well....I snapped a picture of her to prove that I certainly was NOT!

We paid $5 for her at this buffet and she ate THREE LARGE bowls of spaghetti with marinara sauce!!   After finishing off the third bowl she said she was 'all done.'  We get to the car and she smells donuts and says, I want a donut!  Yep...I told you she is a big eater.

We ate at about 3pm.....don't worry....but 5pm she was telling me she was 'still hungry' and she wanted us to make her a bowl of noodle soup.   So now you see, I was not exaggerating in the least when I said this child is a HUGE eater!  

Just to be fair, this was not the most food this child has ever eaten.  She has eaten far more than this before!  Luckily there are buffet restaurants that think children are small eaters so it doesn't have to be expensive ;-)

All Ready for Church on Christmas Eve

She is growing up SO fast!  We are continually buying her new shoes or clothes because she grows out of clothes very quickly.  When she came home she was wearing a size 5/6  
One year and four months later she is now wearing an 8.  We have been buying size 10 because they are only slightly too big and it gives her room to grow into them.  

If you had met Little Miss when she first came home you would be completely shocked at how far she has come in the last year.   When she came home she only spoke when absolutely necessary.  
I hungry, thirsty, go potty, drink of water and a few other things.

She was very shut down and preferred to zone out and stim with random objects like bobby pins, hair clips, or any object she could find.  She would just flick her finger on the object to make noise in her ear.  If you spoke to her at all when she was doing this it would either frighten her terribly or she would become very upset and cry.  It took us a long time to figure out what was happening.  She was so dissociated from her surroundings while stimming that it would frighten her terribly.  
We began to realize that we had to stop her from zoning out to stimming.  Slowly we started having her interact with us for longer periods of time.  All the bobby pins and hair pins went 'bye bye'  
We ask her to use her whole hands when touching things so she can understand what the item is and what it is used for rather than thinking that everything she touches is just an item to stim with.

Slowly but surely she began learning.  She has surprised us many times when she will just all the sudden do something on her own. 

One day she came home from school and just unzipped her own coat.   That may seem like an obvious thing that a 7 year old would do but for her it was NOT!  Trying to get her to unzip a coat would result in a crying meltdown or freezing and obstinate refusal.

One day she was downstairs watching Barney on Netflix and I took some folded laundry up to my room and was putting it away and I hear the toilet seat in the hall bathroom go up.  It took me a second to realize we were the only two in the house.  I paused and the next thing I realize she was going to the bathroom!!!!  You have no idea how BIG this was!!!  She had to be verbally prompted and helped to do every step of going to the bathroom for over a year.  I quietly snuck around the corner to watch her and with very little verbal prompting from me she was able to flush, wash and dry her hands and everything!  We had a HUGE celebration and made a big deal out of such an accomplishment.  She still struggles at times and needs verbal reminders to flush or turn the water on but she has made HUGE strides.

As you can see with this water bottle...she used every item to stim with instead of learning what it was actually used for.  She would just flick her fingers on the edge of it.  It has been very hard to stop this behavior but it has made a WORLD of difference in her ability to learn.

She is now aware of where EVERYONE is.   I will give you a rundown of a typical morning.

She is walking down the stairs into the kitchen.  

What is mommy making?
Mommy is making your hashbrowns  (she repeats, mommy is making hashbrowns)
What is daddy typing on 
Daddy is typing on the computer ( she repeats, daddy is typing on the computer)
Where is Kenzi?
Kenzi is still asleep in her bed  (she repeats, kenzi is still asleep in her bed)
Where is Camdyn?
Camdyn is still asleep in his bed  (she repeats, Camdyn is still asleep in his bed)

(Dad gets up from the table and starts to go upstairs)

Where is daddy going?
Daddy is going to the bathroom (she repeats, daddy is going to the bathroom)
She hears the shower turn on and says, daddy is getting in the shower
She hears me pouring water and says, what is mommy making?

She is aware of everyone in the room and she knows if someone leaves, she knows who it is that is leaving and she wants to know where they are going or what they are doing.   

For someone who has a child who has been blind from birth but who was raised in a family this may not seem like a big probably happened more naturally at an appropriate age.  
For Little Miss....this is HUGE!!   She has finally started to come out of her own world and she is finally becoming interested in the world around her!!!  

We honestly wondered if this would ever happen.  She wants to know what everyone is doing, where they are going and she will ask repeatedly where is daddy?  He is at work.  Where is daddy?  He is at work....  We are so thrilled that she is learning so much.   Her language is improving by leaps and bounds.  We can understand most of what she says now whether in Mandarin or English.  

I want her to retain her native language and so generally when I talk to her I try to say everything in both Mandarin and English.  We have her listen to Chinese music and t.v. shows as well as in English.  She seems to prefer to speak in English but she LOVES it when she sits on my lap and repeats sentences with me in both English and Mandarin!  
I am certainly a very beginner in Mandarin and in order to form a semi-correct sentence I have to use google translate even though I know all the words forming a sentence properly is still hard for me but it is helping me learn as well.

She is a Daddy's Girl

She absolutely LOVES her daddy!!  He is the fun one that twirls her around, teases with her and plays with her.  Her latest favorite game is to say,  I eat chair and Daddy says "Don't eat the chair, chairs are yucky."  Then she says, "Chair is Y-U-M-M-Y"  and she giggles and laughs.  She will say this about everything...I eat dog food or I eat car....  

She has an adorable sense of humor :-D  

She also has a silly word that she made up..... Bobo   When we say something like...come eat your dinner...she will say, "Come eat your bobo"  then she will laugh.  I have no idea where this word came from but she thinks it's hilarious.

She is learning days of the week

She is just now starting to learn a little about time.  She is learning what day of the week it is.  She obviously struggles a little bit but she knows if everyone is home for the day that is either Saturday or Sunday.  She knows we go to church on Sunday.  We talk about what day of the week it is and what day we do different things.   She will say, No school on Saturday or we go to church on Sunday.

She keeps us all laughing..

Last week my husband and daughter were sitting in the living room talking and Little miss pipes up and says in a silly voice, I'm scared.   My husband asked her, Why are you scared?

She says,  I am scared of the dark!

Everyone just busted up laughing and she thought she was pretty funny too.  I have no idea where she got this idea...probably from a t.v. show but obviously she is not afraid of the dark :-D

She loves to say,  I Quilarious = I am hilarious

I sit on chair quessage = I sit on the massage chair

She loves to bark like the dogs and then tell them to be quiet!

If we ever mention California she will repeat it over and over...for some reason she LOVES that word.  

I eat a lot of brussel sprouts and if I ever say that word, the next thing you know she is going around saying.... Grussel Scrouts over and over :-D

I need to document all the funny things she says because she is quite the entertainment that is for sure!

She is loving Christmas music and asks me to turn it on as soon as she wakes up in the morning...we may have to find a new genre of music after January 1st.  

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Light the world by living with forgiveness and love always in your heart

Live always with Forgiveness and Love in your Heart

As I progress on this journey of International adoption I feel as though I mature just like maturing from childlike perception into an ever increasing and expanding awareness.  I do not have all the answers, I am not an expert by any means, but I have gained much knowledge and perspective as I have walked this journey with my daughter.  I have gained the greatest perspective listening to the stories not only of other adoptive families, but actually learning of the stories of birth parents in China, those who have lived with grief in their hearts at the loss of their precious child.

There are many times when comments from well meaning strangers cause my heart to sink....In my mind I think, "If you only REALLY knew."  The comments of well meaning but very uninformed people can be hurtful to adoptive families and children.  While I do not hold any ill will toward these well meaning people, I simply wish that they could understand reality as the truth would bless their lives as well. 

One such comment "She is such a lucky girl"

When I think of my daughter and the life she has lived...lucky is not a word I would use for any part of it.  For any child, whether adopted at 2 minutes old or 17 years old the loss of their parents, the people with whom they share DNA, those who gave them life and brought them into this world is an unspeakable tragedy for all involved.    Yes, my daughter has a loving family, however, luck has nothing to do with it.  God has placed her in our family for a purpose and to be honest, I am not fully aware of all the nuances of why we were the ones chosen and blessed to be called her family.

I do not believe in 'lucky' but I do believe in blessings from a loving God

While you may feel that our little girl is blessed, I must boldly profess to you that it truly is WE who have been immensely blessed!

We feel blessed to have her as a part of our family.  Every aspect of this adoption, even the trials and difficult aspects have so richly blessed our lives!  She has brought a lot of joy, laughter, and happiness into our home and we can't imagine our lives without her.  If anything, she has been a blessing in our lives.   I want everyone who knows us to recognize that this little girl has BLESSED US!   Luck has no place in our lives, but the Grace of God does!

The comment I want to focus on today is.... 

"Who could do such a thing (abandon their child)?"

I must humbly admit, that there was a time I have said these exact words...what kind of person could abandon their own child?   I understand the emotion that causes you to ask this question, you see the suffering and absolute tragedy of abandonment and of course your heart cannot understand how this could possibly happen.   

In the beginning of our adoption journey, I too held a bit of anger toward my daughters birth parents.  How could they leave a blind little 3 year old girl on the street and walk away....who could do such a thing?   

We are all so quick to point our finger in judgement at others!

As I matured in this adoption journey, I began to read the absolutely tragic stories of birth parents who were forced to abandon their children...and I realized, I had NO RIGHT to judge.

I do not live in a communist country with a STRICT one child policy where women are forced to have abortions if it is discovered that they are pregnant with a second child.  I do not live in poverty, I have not lived through what these parents have gone through.  I have not walked one single footstep in their shoes and have no idea what circumstances led up to the abandonment of their precious child.  I know in my heart no matter the circumstances, that neither you nor I could possibly imagine the painful and unspeakable sorrow they must have felt.

I do not know the road they have walked, I do not know what was in their heart or mind....To be blunt, it doesn't matter, I have no right to judge them.  

Maybe her mother grieved and cried as her child was carried out into the dark of night never to be seen again....
Maybe she lingered and kissed her sleeping child's cheek before turning away with a tear streaked face and overwhelming grief.
 with tears streaming down her face, maybe she turned back in utter grief for a last look
 Maybe she has been haunted by the image of her child's face emblazoned in her mind.  Maybe she thinks of her precious child every day of her life in grief and heartache.  Maybe, just maybe this abandonment was not her 'choice'.  It was the result of a draconian one child policy in the country in which she lives that forced her into a position none of us could ever comprehend.

I do not claim to know the answers and I am sure the circumstances are different for every child who was abandoned.  The one thing I do know, is that, I have no right to judge my daughters birth parents or the choice they made. 

There are many days I wonder if her  birth mom is thinking of her, does she wonder what happened to her precious little girl?

As I have overcome my judgement of her birth parents, there are many days I wish they could see her today and how far she has come.  I wish they could see her laughing and singing, I wish they could see her typing on her brailler, or walking with her cute pink cane, I wish they could see all the milestones she reaches each day, I wish they could hear her beautiful little singing voice, I wish they could hear hear sweet laughter, I wish they knew of her joyful sense of humor.  No I do not hold any resentment or ill feelings toward her birth parents, I do not know their circumstances.  I pray for them, and I do wish that they could know their daughter.  

I don't know that anything would ease the heartache or grief they have suffered, but still, I wish that they could have some peace of mind that she is safe and loved.  Adoption, in any of its forms comes from intense grief and loss and there is nothing that will ever mend that.  A mother's love for her child  can never be erased and the loss a mother suffers I cannot even imagine.

All I ask is this...Do not judge.  Do not judge anyone for any reason.  You do not know their story, thoughts ,feelings, motives, or their heart.  Things are not always as they appear to be.  I do not know my daughters birth parents but I feel a connection with them through this sweet little girl.  I am grateful to know that my daughters separation from her parents is not permanent and there will come a day when she will be reunited with them again and we all will be connected through our love of this little girl.  Our families will always share a sweet connection through this little girl and I know that God can take this tragedy and make beauty where ashes once were.  All will be made right and nothing will be lost to this little girl, not even her birth parents.  

"Charity Never Faileth" General Conference October 2010

"A young couple, Lisa and John, moved into a new neighborhood. One morning while they were eating breakfast, Lisa looked out the window and watched her next-door neighbor hanging out her wash.
“That laundry’s not clean!” Lisa exclaimed. “Our neighbor doesn’t know how to get clothes clean!”
John looked on but remained silent.
Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, Lisa would make the same comments.
A few weeks later Lisa was surprised to glance out her window and see a nice, clean wash hanging in her neighbor’s yard. She said to her husband, “Look, John—she’s finally learned how to wash correctly! I wonder how she did it.”
John replied, “Well, dear, I have the answer for you. You’ll be interested to know that I got up early this morning and washed our windows!”
Are you looking at others through your own dirty window?  
There is no way that we can know the heart, intentions, or circumstances of another person and therefore instead of judgement and criticism, can we not share kindness, compassion, and forgiveness as we would want them to do for us.
When we judge parents living in a communist country with a heart-wrenching one child policy that is enforced with brutal force, we simply add to the grief, sorrow and pain that fills our world.  This judgement does no service to these children who have suffered through not fault of their own, nor their birth parents.  Judgement never brings light or happiness into our own life, or the life of others.  
We have a choice, instead of passing judgement, we can choose compassion, we can choose forgiveness and we can choose to be a light in an ever darkening world.  

Be a light in the world, shine bright in the darkness, spread love instead of hate, forgiveness instead of judgement, charity instead of selfishness, humility instead of the light the world so desperately needs. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

International adoption a joyful journey on a broken road

Airport Sept. 8th 2016 with Big Sister

Just over one year ago we arrived home with a little six year old child who had become our daughter merely a week or so before our arrival home.  I thought I was completely prepared for International adoption, I had read all the books, I studied reactive attachment disorder, I researched institutional autism....  I knew exactly what I was going in to......or so I thought.

There truly is nothing that can prepare you for the journey of loving a child from a very hard, traumatic past aside from living through it.  The journey is different with each child and therefore even previous adoptions and experiences may not prepare you fully for the next.   It is a daily journey with each child and it takes a lot of courage, patience, long-suffering, kindness to manage each day.

We were completely and utterly alone in this journey, I don't say this to condemn others, but merely to point out that there is just a simple lack of understanding or knowledge in the general population about the very significant special needs of Internationally adopted children. 

Our needs as we arrived home were FAR more dramatic than those bringing home a new baby.  We had to purposely allow the fridge and cupboards to dwindle to basic non-perishable items.  The house was scrubbed clean, but very empty.  We traveled for 36 hours straight on our journey home with a child who was terrified because in all reality to her, she was traveling with complete strangers.   When we drove into the driveway and walked into our home, we were starving, it was 4:00 pm and after a lengthy trip with a very traumatized and frightened child we were exhausted to the bone.

We were able to rummage up some spaghetti and pasta sauce from food storage in the basement to feed ourselves before collapsing in a rocking chair with an overly tired and frightened child.  It wasn't much of a homecoming, there was an emptiness and silence in the house and yet weary excitement that we were finally home. 

We did need time alone to bond with our daughter, we did need a safe and quiet space for her to relax and feel safe.  We did need friends, neighbors, family and others to respect our quiet and safe space but we didn't expect to find ourselves as isolated as we had become.  It was lonely to say the least.

In all my study and preparation I was not prepared for what institutional autism looked like in real life.  The previous two weeks my daughter, rocked back and forth rapidly, stimmed constantly, screamed, refuse to interact other than absolute necessity for water or the bathroom.  She was completely lost in her own world.  Anyone not familiar with institutional autism...she would appear SEVERELY autistic.....and yet...she was not!

In the coming weeks....because she is completely blind and now living and the exact opposite time zone her sleep patterns were severely disrupted.  Jet lag is NO joke!  We woke up at 3am starving for dinner and could not sleep, we were feeding a crying six year old dinner at 3am.  I know eating is not helpful for jet lag but you do not refuse food to a child suffering from trauma, loss and grief...I found myself cooking frequently in those early days at 3 or 4 am. 

Six weeks home and I was still severely sleep deprived, caring for a child who still thought waking up at 3 am was totally normal.  My nerves were shot, I was exhausted to the bone and desperately needed some support, even just a friendly person to talk to.   All that preparation and yet, I wasn't prepared at all.

Among the rough sleepless nights, meltdowns, grieving for hours and sitting in a chair with her on my lap for hours there were also times of laughter, joy and amazement that this little one brought into our home. 

We watched as she slowly but surely learned to trust, she started to laugh and smile and in fact, she began speaking, not just words of necessity but she started teasing us and making us laugh.  Now, I can truly say that I know exactly what adoptive families always say, International adoption is the most broken, heart-wrenching, beautiful, joyful journey you will ever take!

There is one wish I have....that more people would come to understand the profound needs of children from institutions and the families who adopt them.  It would have made such a difference to have a support system in place of people who brought meals, came to visit, could lend a listening ear or even offer to run some errands or offer help as I was holed up at home for the long haul with a scared, grief stricken little one. 

I also wish people would understand that she needed her space, she needed time to realize that these people who 'kidnapped' her could be trusted and would love her.  She needed to learn what love really means and that it is NOT random strangers telling you they love you or trying to hug you and invade your personal space.   Extended family should be respectful that they are strangers to these children and they should be kind and helpful but avoid physical expressions of love until a true relationship is established. 

It is a rough road to walk, and the misunderstanding of all those that make up your community just makes it harder and far lonelier than it ever need be.

There were days I didn't know how I was going to make it through, there were days I wasn't sure I would ever sleep again, isolation and loneliness were difficult to bear......but as the days, weeks and months progressed I started to see what a blessing this little girl was in our lives.

Many people have told us that we are so 'amazing' for adoption her or that we are amazing people.  I am no more amazing than the next person.  Why am I amazing for adopting her?  She is an amazing, sweet, talented little girl who has brought laughter, joy and happiness into our family and we are blessed to call her ours.  There is nothing special or amazing about me and it did NOT take an amazing person to adopt her.  People almost act as if these children are less worthy of a family and therefore it must take an amazing person to be willing to open their life and their homes to a child.  I honestly and truly hope this is not the case.. I would hope that ALL would be willing to open their homes to orphans! 

As the one year mark has passed, I will admit....many of my expectations of where she would be now were not fact, probably none of them were.  This was a lesson in itself.   I expected her to be able to use the restroom on her own, to be able to speak to us like a typical 5 year old (even though she is almost 8), I thought she would get her own food from a special drawer made just for her......

If I focus on all the things she has not done, I miss all the amazing accomplishments she has made.  She went from only speaking absolute necessities to speaking in small sentences, even putting two thoughts together in sentences.  She has learned to tease us, she has learned to clean up her own toys and put them back in a toy box,  she navigates the house well without any assistance and can come and find me wherever I am if she needs or wants something......

I learned that if we put children into an 'expectation box' we miss out on celebrating all that they accomplish and seeing the beauty of each step of opening up and learning to trust and love despite developmental delays or academic deficits that may persist.  It isn't about a child's math ability, reading ability or academic is more about a child's ability to learn to trust again when they have experienced the ultimate betrayal in their life, about a child opening up to love again, when love has hurt them before.....  there is so much more to life than 2+2=4

As I stand looking back on the past year, I can say I am thankful for every moment, for every sleepless night, every messy diaper, every difficult part of this journey because it has changed me has made me a better person than I ever would have become without it.  I feel blessed to have walked this journey with its tough climbs and its joyful moments all wrapped into one beautiful experience. 

I have learned to take life as it comes, to love without expectation and to accept her exactly as she is and who she will become.  I do have high expectations for her because she has immense potential but I know that no matter what she chooses to become and no matter what obstacles we may face.....we will always love her exactly as she is. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

One Year Later....Gotcha Day Aug. 29th 2016

Civil Affairs Office Meeting Daddy

She was all smiles in the Civil Affairs office when we first met her...I don't think she fully comprehended what it all meant.  As we took her to dinner that night..she ate more than an entire professional football team!!!  Literally..I am not exaggerating!!  Okay, only maybe a little bit.  But she was very withdrawn and in the coming days she would grieve hard!  It isn't all roses and smiles...but it is a beautiful road to walk with a child. 

First Family Picture!!

I cannot believe it was exactly one year ago that we were in China having our first family photo taken for our paperwork.  I have this little dress hanging in the back of her closet to remember the little dress that she came in for 'Gotcha Day' or Family Day!   It has been an amazing journey that has completely changed my life...some days have been incredibly hard, others have been filled with joy and laughter.

It is has been amazing to watch this little girl transform over the last year.  When we had her in China she would rock back and forth flick her fingernails in her ear and cry if she had to leave her bed for any reason.  She would cry Shui Jiao everytime we went somewhere...meaning she wanted to 'sleep' or go back to her bed. 

She no longer rocks back and forth at all....she only cries if she gets hurt or if someone tries to make her do something she doesn't want to open a door as horrible of a thing as that is ;-)

Her First Cane

She had only been home a few months but she loved to go outside and pick leaves, she loved to pick tomatoes out of the garden and eat them like apples....

"I wanna pick a tomato"

She learned very quickly how to say, I wanna pick a tomato...then she would say..."All done pick a tomato" when she was finished eating it.  She still asks to pick a tomato but not as often as she did last year.  

First Hair Cut

Daddy took the poor child to Sports Clips and when they were finished with big brother he asked them to cut her bangs....BIG MISTAKE!!!  Mommy had to fix the uneven mess they made out of them :-/  Don't take little girls to a men's hair cutting doesn't end well.  But she is cute no matter what. 

First Day of School One Year Home!!!

She has grown SO much!!  In the last year she has grown 6 1/2 inches and has gained almost 9 pounds!  This girl can EAT!!!!  When she came home all she wanted was to hold bobby pins in her hand and flick them with her finger in her ear and she hardly spoke unless she needed water, food or potty.   

Now she says...

I am still hungry
I want to play with a toy
I want to watch little Einsteins
I want to talk to mommy
I want to get the mail with me  (it means get the mail with you)
I want to go potty on the toilet
I want to go to Kenzi's room
Come here daddy
I want skittles in a baggie
I want craisins in a baggie
I want to listen to music
Fold your arms  

And the list goes on and on....she LOVES to sing songs, repeat what everyone else is saying and she is learning so very quickly we are all amazed at her progress.

When I get a chance I am going to make a First Year Home Video to share with you!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Strength and Joy Amongst Hardships in Life

Finding Strength Beyond My Own

I cannot believe it has almost been one year since we met this sweet, sassy, strong-willed little girl for the first time!   The journey to our Little Miss was a long journey, nine years in the making....

I have seen how God was changing me, through a painful refiners fire that at times made me call out, God, where art thou?  In moments on my knees because I simply didn't have the strength to stand I could not see what God saw, I did not see the plans he had in store.   Through the trials, tears and heartache he molded me to become the mother of a special needs little girl who needed me to be who God molded me to become before we made the long journey to China to bring her home.

I have learned many lessons in the past two years, through our adoption journey from the submission of our application to almost one year home.   I remember reading the blogs of other adoptive mothers listening to them say how hard and yet how beautiful the journey of adoption is......

A Beautiful Broken Road

How can something be beautiful while at the same time be the hardest thing you have ever done?  It is God's hand in the plight of an orphan that makes a broken, painful, difficult journey beautiful and joyful.  I have seen God's hand in every moment of our adoption journey, blessings that left me speechless because of their magnitude.  

I would like to share the lessons I have learned and continue to learn on this journey and pray that God will use my experiences to bless the life of another on their journey.   It isn't an easy journey, but we as Christians have covenanted to have a heart for the widows and the orphans.

Lesson #1 God is bigger than money

If you think for one moment that I had $38,000 in my bank account or even the ability to pay that much for anything, you would be sorely mistaken.  After some very severe financial trials our savings account was $ZERO!!!

If you think you have to have access to money to adopt, all I can say is, God is bigger than your financial situation.  We did not have the means to adopt....and honestly in comparison to the cost of our adoption donations we received only covered about 5% of the cost.  

The adoption is 100% paid for, we do not have any debt from our adoption!

Where did the money come from?  Honestly, when it was came!  I can't explain it other than to tell you that God's hand was in every moment and the money came as needed in ways we never could have expected.  We stepped out in faith and with each step we took....the money needed came....never all at once, just step by step until all adoption costs were covered.

Grief and Loss in a Child is HARD to witness

You see happy pictures on Instagram, you see smiling faces on Facebook and adoption looks like the happiest most joyful journey one could ever take......and that is all I want you to see.   When our little miss came to us, she was 6 years old and after evaluations from psychologists, special education teachers, therapists etc.... it was determined that she was developmentally 2 years old.  

There are many aspects of International adoption that are have to be willing to take WHATEVER comes your way!  There are no guarantees.  I was not fully prepared for how profoundly delayed she was, I wasn't prepared for months of sleepless nights, cleaning up poopy diapers in the mornings 4 times a week for 7 months, grieving and crying for hours, meltdowns, tantrums........

I was aware of the possibilities but nothing can prepare you to live through it......not only live through it but do so without a single friend in the world.  Isolation was the hardest thing I faced!

No one stopped by to see how I was doing, no one called to see how I was doing, there wasn't a friend to call when I felt it was too hard to handle, no shoulder to cry on when I didn't think I could change another poopy diaper, no friend to cry with as my heart ached for my daughters fears and pain from trauma......

Loneliness was a battle I fought day after day after day while fighting in the trenches for this Little one who was afraid, grieving, and living in fight or flight mode from all she has faced in her life..... 

Among the loneliest hours I found myself on my knees pouring my heart out to God....pleading for patience, for strength, to be what my little miss needed me to be, asking for forgiveness feeling like I was failing her......

I asked God why He chose me to be her mom.....certainly there was a mother who could be so much more than I.   

Pleading for Patience and Strength

I learned the key to praying for patience is not about expecting God to MAKE you is about learning to rely on Him in every moment when you are not enough, praying in every moment when you are weak and knowing He will meet you where your weakness begins and give you the strength to carry on.  It isn't one simple is a constant prayer in your heart coupled with the absolute humility and desire to BECOME what you are praying to become.

God doesn't force it on you......He gives you the opportunity to BECOME and it is up to you whether you will become or not.  I learned that on the fourth day in a row of changing a poopy heart praying to God for patience to serve this child despite how exhausted I felt, despite how upset I felt inside......... The answer to my pleading...

This isn't about YOU!

Is that the answer I had hoped for?  No, but it was truth.......bringing an orphan into your home is NOT about is about serving them in their weakness, in their pain, in their suffering, in their worst moment you are called to be their strength, to be God's hands and showing them love even in their worst most unlovable moment!

It's goes against our fallen nature......and yet.....I found that with God I am able!  I found patience when I didn't think I had any left, I found the ability to calmly change a poopy diaper like I was pouring her a glass of juice, I found the strength to not be heartbroken when she rejected me......It wasn't my patience, it wasn't my was a tender mercy from God. 

Blessings beyond imagination

Blessings from money provided when I couldn't comprehend how, strength beyond my own to watching this precious child of God go from rocking back and forth flicking her fingers in her ears and crying a little girl who is speaking in sentences, asking for things she wants, laughing, teasing, and enjoying swimming in the pool, talking to mommy, laying in big sisters bed all snuggled up longer an orphan...but a beloved daughter, sister, grand daughter, cousin...

Watching this little girl blossom has been a blessing beyond imagination and I wouldn't trade it for anything.....despite the heartache, trials and tears.....with God the joys far outweigh the pain!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Family Valentine Adventure

Family Valentine Adventure

My husband was on a business trip to Houston for Valentines Day!  Apparently one of the 'Big Wigs' at the company is sleeping in the dog house....or at least I hope he is.....for planning a company meeting at the headquarters in Houston for the entire week of Valentines!

I thought since hubby would be gone it would be a lot fun to have a family Valentines Day with the  three kiddos.  I bought tickets to the #AGentriValentine concert and planned a nice dinner at a family favorite restaurant.  My husband left for Houston early Monday morning and I dreaded the long week ahead of getting up early to drive kids to school coupled with sleepless nights because I just don't sleep well alone.....yes I am afraid of the dark :-) and I am not ashamed to admit it

Our First Adventure of Valentines Evening

The Gentri Valentine Concert started at 7:30 and I wanted to plan plenty of time for dinner so we would be able to park close at Kingsbury Hall and not cause too much stress on Little Miss for her first excursion into the city.  I planned to leave at would take 40 minutes to get to the restaurant maybe a bit longer if we ran into some traffic. I figured since we were leaving early traffic would be fine...I was wrong!!  An hour and 15 minutes later we arrived at the restaurant.  Hubby knows I HATE driving on the freeway and in big cities...I may or may not have had MANY episodes of calling him crying because I was lost on my few excursions into the just never ends well. 

However, tonight I was determined to go dinner and to the concert no matter I was going to brave driving into the city. 

Second Adventure of Valentines Evening

We arrived at the restaurant at about 5:45 and there were only about 4 other small groups in the whole was still early so the place wasn't busy yet.  Kenzi and Cam ordered the all you can eat Pizza and I find out they didn't have the regular menu that night....Little Miss refuses to eat pizza or salad and cannot eat a big sub sandwich....that was the whole menu that night :-(

I ended up ordering her an appetizer and a Sub sandwich that we planned on cutting up into a bunch of pieces in a bowl so she could eat it.  Oh the best laid plans....

45 minutes later..... Kenzi and Cam had received only a few pieces of pizza and we had not received our appetizers, Little Miss's meal, or my food!  Our food arrived about 5 minutes before we needed to leave to make it to the concert on time...little miss is a S.L.O.W. eater and so I had to send my son up to ask for boxes, our check, and two brownies to go because we didn't have time to eat. 

I shouldn't admit this but I had not eaten much all day because I was excited for this meal so I was STARVING!!   On the positive side the scale was down this morning since I didn't get much to eat at Valentines dinner.

Cam had to Feed Little miss in the car... Kenzi was in the front seat with navigation helping me find Kingsbury Hall.... while Cam was in the back seat with little miss trying to quickly feed her so she wouldn't be hungry..She is VERY ornery if she is hungry!

I may or may not have almost slammed into the back of another car that stopped for the Trax train...Heaven help us I am not good at driving in traffic.

Handicapped Parking

Hopefully if you read this blog often you are aware that Little miss is blind. 
Before anybody starts judging about this....our handicapped parking sticker is for our personal situation and I am not saying that anyone else needs one or doesn't need one.  Little miss is a V.E.R.Y. S.L.O.W. walker....for three reasons. 

First - she is still learning to trust us and so when she is in unfamiliar places she is very cautious and nervous. 
Second she has very little experience with a cane and so she cannot get any information about where she is going or the terrain ahead of her and it makes her cautious. 
Third -  She came from a remote area in China and living in an orphanage and has extremely limited experience with walking on busy streets. 

We are working with the school district on getting orientation and mobility for her....but for now we are where we are.   I don't use the handicapped parking anywhere close to home, restaurants, or big box stores takes us quite awhile to get through parking lots to the store with her but we do it.  However, when we are in large cities and have to cross very busy streets with cars everywhere it is NOT SAFE for us to walk with a child that walks in S.L.O.W. M.O.T.I.O.N...we can't get across the street before the light changes, not even close.  She becomes agitated and nervous with all the hustle and bustle and sounds and it is just a nightmare. 

I had fully planned on using it so that I would not have to stress about getting  her across busy streets all the while trying to figure out where we were going because I don't know my way around the area at all.

Parking Attendant tells me there is NO handicapped parking and to go around the block to the parking garage

I realize that we were late...I had planned to get there 30 minutes early so there would be good parking left....but with unexpected grid lock traffic and a restaurant that didn't get us our food before we had to leave I did the best I could.  In stop and go traffic we drove around the block and I am not kidding as soon as we are the next car to drive into the parking garage the attendant puts out a sign  Parking lot full

They suggested we drive to the stadium and take a shuttle.  I had no idea where in the world the stadium was or how to get there and traffic was moving at 2 miles an hour stop and go... I just pulled down a side street and parked about three blocks from the parking garage.  

Little miss had to ride piggy back on my daughter so we could get there on time. 
Little miss is honestly almost the same height as my 17 year old daughter and she kept letting go of her neck and not understanding that she needed to hold on so she didn't fall backwards.  The concert was going to start in 10 minutes and we had more than 10 minutes of walking to get there.  If we had let little miss walk we would have arrived at intermission :-P  

We finally got there and in our seats just in time...the concert started a few minutes late. 

I am not admitting guilt I may or may not have parked somewhere that you aren't supposed to park...all I can say is Kingsbury Hall get some decent handicapped parking!  All the close parking spots were for VIP's and college presidents etc....  Really...VIP's and college presidents can't walk like everyone else *roll eyes*

I was a bit worried that we may have a ticket or a boot at the end of the concert but the alternative wasn't great I took my chances.   Hubby called right before the concert started and I told him our story and he said...don't worry about getting a's okay, you needed to park close and did the best you could. 

Best Husband Ever!!

He felt so guilty about being gone for Valentines Day!!

I didn't know why he wanted me to call him after the concert so badly.  It would be 11pm in Houston and he had to wake up at 6am. 
I called and found out.......

He had emailed GENTRI and asked them to wish me a Happy Valentines on stage

That would have made a very stressful evening so special.....they probably get thousands of requests like that so I am not surprised that they didn't respond to him but it really made my night that he would try to do that for me to make it a special Valentines even though he couldn't be there.

When we got back to the car there was no ticket or boot on the prayers were heard! 

Little miss was asking for 'snuggle with mommy' at intermission - she was almost starting to cry when the music stopped and we were just sitting there.  She was tired and hungry and I felt so bad for mommy brought M & M's and a lollipop and that calmed her down.  When she asks for snuggle with mommy that was her way of saying I am ready for bed...once they started singing again she was rocking out to the music and happy...whew! 

All in all it was a great night.....the concert was amazing even though the rest of the night was not so great!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Results from Cornea Specialist Appointment

Five Months with Little Miss

She loves to play the "I Love you Most" game with is so cute!

She has learned so much and grown so much since she first came home.   We remember those early days when all she wanted to do was lay in bed with headphones on listening to Chinese nursery rhymes..... Her language was limited to I hungry, Go potty, drink of water, go to sleep or find it. 
She used to just rock back and forth and jump around in circles all day and did NOT want to interact with anyone.  

She loves to Yell...."David Archuleta is BAE"  all. day. long!!  I am not exaggerating, that is how she gets my attention when she wants something....thank big sister for that one :-)

We have come a long way from just saying those basic, eat, hungry, potty, sleep days!!

Mommy I need something
Help me
Daddy hold you
Mommy sit by you
Toby get off (she says this when she wants one of the dogs off her favorite chair)
Go to Little Miss bedroom
I want a fig newton
I want hashbrowns
Mommy is making food
Good night, I love you
Give Kenzi a hug
I want my toy box
What is this  (usually she says Zhè shì shénme)  She says this All. Day. Long too!!  But she is learning a lot!
I want Chinese Elmo  (she loves to watch elmo in mandarin)
I want mommy read a story
More story please
I want to swing
And a lot more.........

Misunderstandings about the Cornea Specialist Appointment

I feel that I need to clarify a few things about my previous post because many people seem to have misunderstood a lot about this appointment as well as what the result would be if she had a cornea transplant.  

1. Several people questioned us about the surgeon who offered free services for little miss and why would we pay for something that someone offered for free.  You must understand that this offer while so sweet and generous, was made by the surgeons father (who heard her story told by his stake president at a stake conference in Thousand Oaks, California....long story about how this all happened)  He wasn't sure if his son could do anything but just wanted to offer anything that he could possibly do to help her.  Just because you are a surgeon does not mean you perform every type of surgery.    This surgeon was a very sweet and very generous man and I had a wonderful conversation with him and he helped us understand a lot about Little miss condition and where we needed to look for services for her, however, he was unable to provide the services that she would need.  

2. Many people believed that this surgery would restore Little Miss eyesight completely or near completely.  You must understand that Little miss condition is NOT such that her eyesight could ever be restored.  I am sorry if I did not clarify this better but her eyesight would not have been restored with the cornea transplant.  What we were hoping for was some light perception or possibly being able to see some shadows to help her with orientation.  That was BEST case scenario.

Why is light perception or shadows such a big deal?  

Without light perception Little Miss has been unable to regulate her circadian rhythm and therefore her sleep is quite erratic and she runs the risk of developing Non-24 syndrome  Individuals with non-24 can struggle such that they cannot even hold down a job because their sleep is so erratic and they will literally fall asleep anywhere, anytime.  It is hard to explain but if you are curious you can look it up.  

Light perception could allow her to see Christmas lights, enjoy light up toys and help with some orientation in the world around her as well as help her regulate her circadian rhythm and her sleep patterns.   Being able to see shadows of doorways or buildings or things around her could help her orient herself in the world around her a little better. 

This is what we were hoping for in taking her to see the cornea specialist.

Results from the Cornea Specialist Visit
Little miss was SO brave!!  She did really good at the appointment and got some M&M's after

The cornea specialist was amazing...he was so straight forward about everything and we really appreciated that he was so candid with us and yet said I will do whatever you decide.
I feel I need to explain things so that there are no misunderstandings about the ultimate decision that was made for her.

1. The immune system attacks the cornea transplant and in young children their immune systems react pretty violently.  Rejection of the cornea happens in about 20% of cornea transplants.  This can cause inflammation, pain and requires immune suppressing drugs as well as frequent visits to the doctor to manage the immune reaction.

2. He evaluated her 'potential for vision'  this is important because this tells us if there is even any hope of her being able to see after the transplant.  She has little to no potential for vision.  He was hoping to see that she had some light perception that had stimulated the visual cortex of the brain.  Unfortunately both the pediatric opthalmologist and cornea surgeon agree that little miss does not have light perception, or if she does it is so minimal that it is not enough to regulate her sleep cycles or stimulate her visual cortex in any appreciable way.   Even if he could restore some light perception  for her....her brain would likely not be able to perceive it and therefore she would still not 'see' what her eyes were seeing.  This was not the news we had hoped for....we realized that she was not going to be a candidate for the surgery.

3. He said that with her eyes being so small there may or may not be an iris or a lens underneath the white that had grown over her eyes and that would require further testing.  Even if she did have a lens...with the size of her eyes he would not be able to cut enough to transplant a cornea without affecting other structures in her small little eyes. It would be a very risky surgery to perform and more than likely would not result in any more vision for her. 

Ultimately the cornea specialist said:  In her case...the benefit would certainly not outweigh the risks and he would NOT recommend the surgery for her.  We both agreed.

We Did not adopt Little Miss hoping to Change her

 God created her perfectly from her head to her toes....including those sweet little eyes!  God has purpose for her in her life and even purpose in her blindness and she is perfect just the way she is. 

Many people have the misconception that because she is blind she is limited in her ability to do things in her life.  She is NOT limited!!

She can do just about anything any sighted person could do....we may have to get creative but ultimately....she can and will do whatever she wants to do!  Big sister wants to take her snowboarding, she loves going swimming, sledding....and I am sure she will find more and more hobbies as she gets older...


It isn't some amazing feat that a blind child cleans their room, learns to cook or bake cookies, cakes or pie, goes skiing, swims, runs cross country, knits or crochets, enjoys playing wii games, reading books, goes bowling,  goes to college, gets married, has children.....  Her life will be rich and full and she will do whatever she wants to do in her life and we are here to support her in her journey.