Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Long Overdue Post

First of all, our apologies for not updating this sooner.  We didn't realize our Blogger account wouldn't let us access it from the iPad while we were in China.  We had left the laptop at home so we could Skype with all the big kids at home.  We have been home from our long trip for a week now, but we have been busy with all of the adjustments of having a new child, so haven't had a lot of time to post an update either.  Right now, I'm trying to put something together while Lily is taking a nap.

China was great!  We were amazed at all the wonderful people we met and how gracious they treated us.  Sophie was like a celebrity there, and people kept stopping us and asking if they could take pictures of her.  Most of the time she was happy to comply, but it got a bit old by the end of the trip when we were just ready to be home!
Monday August 12th was Gotcha Day.  The nannies from Lily's orphanage brought her to us dressed to the nines!
It was obvious when we visited her orphanage on the previous Friday that Lily was very loved by her caregivers.  We felt really bad on Gotcha Day as one of them ran from the room sobbing as she left Lily with us.   The 13th was considered Adoption Day, the day when the adoption is actually official.  Sadly, one of the adoptive families we met in China (not from our agency) refused their daughter before their Adoption Day and the little girl was returned to her orphanage.   
For the rest of our time in China, we were busy with lots of paperwork, appointments, and basically starting the bonding and attachment process.  It was extremely hot while we were in Zhengzhou (like record heat for them, 110 degree heat index), so it really limited the activities we could do with the girls outside.  Once in Guangzhou, the heat was a little bit less and we were able to go on more outings, like to the local zoo. 
We quickly found out that Lily is a very caring and nurturing little gal.  She helped with the babies and kids that had mobility problems at her orphanage, and it was very apparent that she was used to doing a lot of things that 2-year-olds normally don't know how to do.  She is still pretty independent, but is getting a lot better at letting us do more things for her.  She is also extremely smart, and it doesn't take her long to figure things out for herself.  Sometimes that's a good thing, and sometimes not so much!
We finally arrived home a little past midnight on Saturday 8/24 after traveling around 30 hours.  While we were extremely happy to be home, Lily was in totally foreign surroundings and was very, very scared.  It has taken most of this past week to help her feel more comfortable in her new home.  She is still scared of our dogs, but is getting braver on that front and actually fed our pug a Cheerio this morning before running back to her Dad's safe arms!  She loves all the kids, especially Keira and Sophie.  She is starting to feel comfortable enough here that she will actually play in her room with the girls without one of us being in the room with them.
There have been some sleep issues, but those are getting better.  She still won't go to sleep without me being in the room pretending to sleep.  That has been kind of frustrating.  One night for bedtime, it took an hour and a half before I could duck out of the room.  The past few nights have taken very much less time.  Naptime has been a bit easier, though she hasn't been sleeping very long for naps, certainly not as much as she needs to!
We had heard that it is pretty tough when you bring your new child home, and believe me, that is the truth.  The bonding and attaching process is hard, not only for the child, but for the parents.  It really does take time to build all of that up, and it gets frustrating sometimes.  It doesn't help when you're all having major jet lag and there is a language barrier, either!  Some struggles we know have been because she isn't understanding what we're trying to do and vice versa.  We can't use Google Translate to figure out what she's trying to tell us because of her open palate and unclear speech, so we kind of have to guess on a lot of things.
There has also been a whole lot more sibling rivalry than we ever expected on Sophie's part.  We figured there would be some, but not to the degree it has been.  Things are a little bit better and Lily absolutely loves her "Moshie," as she calls Sophie, but Sophie still has a really hard time sharing her things all the time, or us for that matter.  She still regresses sometimes in her behavior and will act little again, so we have to remind her that she is big.  That has been something that has been harder to deal with than anticipated, and it makes me sad that Sophie would feel that way.  Everyone says that time will help with that.
We started Lily's medical workup this past week.  Our pediatrician is ordering a ton of lab work and studies in anticipation of Lily's upcoming appointment at the Riley Hospital International Adoption Clinic on September 11.  She will also see a pediatric cardiologist to help figure out the extent of her heart problem.  She doesn't have a heart murmur, but we have picked up a definite arrhythmia at times.  It will be interesting to see what is going on there.  Her heart problem is what caused doctors in China to not repair her palate, so hopefully soon we will have some answers on the cardiac front and can pursue palate repair for her.
Well, I think that's it in a nutshell for now.  It has taken me a few hours to actually get this typed out as she woke up shortly after I started typing! 


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

It Started With the Girl at the Water Park....

Tomorrow's the big day.  We're just about ready to leave on a trip that I honestly never imagined making.  It's crazy how you think you have things pretty well figured out in life, the things that you're supposed to do, the things that everybody just does, and along comes a divine twist in the plot that changes the course of everything.  These changes in course set by our Captain usually take us way outside of the boundaries of what we have determined as safe or sane.  They often don't make much sense at the time, but when the big picture is finally revealed, the result is breathtakingly beautiful.

For those of you who don't really know us, we're just regular people.  There is nothing outstanding or special about our family, and we're okay with that.  I think that's what makes all of this even more special.  If God can have such an amazing plan for our regular family, what kinds of things does He want to do in your life?  Seriously, we're not even "treasures in jars of clay"...we're more like melamine mugs.  That way, He can get ALL of the glory for this! =)

A year ago today, we had taken the kids down to Lafayette for a little day trip to the free zoo there and the waterpark right next door.  We were having a really fun, relaxed time that day, just totally enjoying the warm summer weather and each other's company, when God came and changed everything in the space of a second.  As I was walking along, a little Asian girl caught my eye.  She was staring at me, not like little kids normally stare at people, but really intensely.  In that moment, the thought came, "You have a daughter waiting for you in China."  Of course, that was pure craziness (especially since I'm pretty sure the girl wasn't even Chinese), but the thought kept coming back to me.  I mentioned it to David and couldn't believe it when he wasn't surprised by that idea and was actually accepting of it.

Now, we always thought adoption was a great thing and were amazed by the people who adopted children, but we figured there was no way we could adopt as we didn't think we met any of the qualifications.  For one thing, everyone knows that international adoption is really expensive.  With our available resources, there was no way we could ever afford to do that.  Besides that, we already had 5 children....there had to be rules about how many kids you could have to be able to adopt.  However, that thought kept coming back to us that there was a daughter waiting for us in China, so we decided to go with that and at least check out the eligibility requirements.  To our amazement, we totally fell within the guidelines, so we couldn't use that as an excuse not to move forward.  Now, we just had the excuse of we didn't have the funding to pay all of the fees.  That's a good excuse, right?  There was just no way we could do this....

We prayed about this.  We talked to other adoptive families about this.  We researched about this.  We could NOT get away from this at all.  It ended up boiling down to an issue of trust.  If we believed God was telling us to adopt from China, wouldn't He work out all of the funding?  Theoretically, yes.  Practically, were we willing to actually move forward with something this big and have it all blow up in our face if He didn't work it out?  Could we really, truly trust Him with this?  As He kept bringing confirmation after confirmation that this was indeed what we were supposed to do, we took the leap and started the process.  We weren't really sure how it was all going to turn out, but we knew at least we were being obedient to what He had called us to do.

As a bit of an aside, there are rules about what kind of children you are eligible to adopt based on family size.  China has 2 different programs for adoption:  Non-Special-Needs and Waiting Child.  The NSN program is for healthy children.  There are families who have started the process for a NSN child back in 2006/2007 that are still waiting for a child match as there are very limited numbers of healthy children.  Conversely, there are so many, too many, children on the Waiting Child list.  These are children with some kind of identified special need or medical problem.  Because of our family size, we only qualified to adopt from the Waiting Child list.  That was really a non-issue, but when you put in your application, they require you to fill out a Medical Conditions Checklist.  This is where you indicate what needs you would accept, what needs you wouldn't, what you might consider, and whether or not you would be open to accepting a child with more than one concurrent condition .  From the beginning, there were 2 conditions that stood out to us that we were extremely open to:  Heart problems and cleft lip/palate.  There were several others that we were open to as well, some even a bit scary to us, but David said from the beginning he thought our daughter would have one of those two medical conditions. forward to January when we received Lily's referral packet.  She was considered Special Focus (which we didn't know until later), which is the status reserved for children with more severe special needs, multiple special needs, or children that have been waiting longer that usual.  Special Focus adoptions usually go a bit quicker as they are the children that are harder to place.  She has congenital heart disease and unrepaired cleft palate concurrently, along with a possible growth abnormality.  Crazy how David was right!  Each child's referral packet contains their medical records, testing, etc., and Lily's was no different.  She had heart scans, ultrasound reports, labs, and other things.  One interesting piece of documentation was a hospital discharge summary.  Lily had been in the hospital around the same time that God impressed on our hearts that we had a daughter waiting for us in China.  The report wasn't exactly clear why she was in the hospital, but she was there.  We have found out from other families and resources that usually when kids in China from orphanages or institutions have a hospital stay, they are left there in the hospital alone due to limited staffing.  There simply aren't enough people at the facilities to be able to spare staff to stay with the sick children, so we are assuming that Lily was there by herself during those days.  Again, it is amazing how God works out the timing of these kinds of things!

Now, 1 year after this idea was impressed on our hearts, we are just days away from meeting our beautiful new daughter that we never in a million years would have imagined otherwise.  It has been a crazy ride so far, and we know that is just the tip of the iceberg!  We have prepared as much as we can for all of the grief, joy, loss, gain, fear, and beauty that is coming our way, though I don't think anyone can really truly be prepared.  We're just ready to go......
We're coming for you soon!!