Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What's In a Name?

What’s In A Name? Even if you’ve never seen it or read it, most likely you are familiar with the classic line from Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet: “What’s in a name?” In the play, Juliet is basically telling Romeo that it doesn’t matter what their names are as long as she can call him her beloved, that she is his and he is hers.

But names are important, and for most of us we’ve had only just the one name and maybe a nickname. This week, we found another source of information on Lily’s first few of months of life. After she was found, she was taken in by nurse caregivers in her city of Pingdingshan. Translating the post, they noted that she was very tiny and beautiful (still is!), but we discovered something new….they called her Elim. It means fine jade, jewel.

This made us realize that in just the 2-1/3 years (1017 days) between her birth and Gotcha Day, she has had 4 names. Her first name we will never know. This name was given to her by her birth parents. Was it whispered in her ear as she was left at the hospital knowing they wouldn't see her again? Is there a mother in China who looks at the same moon we do and wonders about her daughter? Her first name is one of her first losses.

Little "Elim" when she was found by the nurses at the local hospital

She was taken into care in late December 2010, and that is where she was called Elim by the nurses, a little jewel left at one of the hospitals in Pingdingshan.  But, she wasn’t there long before she would be sent to Angel House in Beijing. Another name lost…

At some point between Pingdingshan and Angel House she was given a new name.: Li Meng Di (Meng - dream, Di - to teach, to follow, and Li is a generic surname). Meng Di was roughly 4 or 5 months old when she arrived to Angel House. She stayed at Angel House, affectionately earning the nickname of "Jumping Beans" (Doh Doh) because of her spunk and energy.  At some point during her stay, apparently she was in a foster family who wanted to adopt her, but could not afford too. The paperwork history is sketchy for us to get a good handle on that part of her life. Regardless, here was yet another loss of someone who cared for her.  
Then, January 2013 came along. We were then matched with her and blessed to get her in August. As part of her adoption, we changed her name to Lily-Mei Claire Mengdi Steinberg. This was her fourth and final name change, until she marries! We felt it was important to keep the only Chinese name we knew as part of her current name, hence Mengdi as a middle name, but she now she goes by Lily (or the full Lily-Mei if she's being a stinker!). She picked up on her new name very quickly and calls herself Lily.
One of the referral pictures of Li Meng Di
Lily in July, approximately a month before she joined our family

When she sees pictures of her time in Angel House, she can get sad. Her fourth name represents another loss for her. This little one averaged a new name every 8.5 months. It breaks our hearts to think of all of the loss she has experienced in such a short time; so many changes for such a young one to go through and everyone of her names symbolic of those changes. Out of all of that, we can echo the same sentiment expressed by Juliet, because through all of those names what truly matters is that we get to call her ours and she can rest from those changes and forever call us Mommy and Daddy.
The many faces of Lily-Mei since she has been home with her forever family

Our God loves to take messy things and make them clean, to take the broken and make them whole, and to fill up the empty. He crafts life from our mistakes and, if we let Him creates beauty from ashes. We are so blessed to have her (and all of our kids) in our lives, through smooth times and rough, and to have friends who care about our story.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The First Two Months

Things have been a wee bit busy in the last few months! In addition to all the general life activities with 6 children, four of whom are in school and have their own activities going on, we've had all of the different appointments and testing for Lily and getting back into the swing of work. Free time has been a bit short in supply, so updates on this blog are one of the first casualties!

So far, Lily seems to be adjusting extremely well.  The first few weeks at home felt a bit rough, but things have gone amazingly better once we found a good routine. Lily sleeps extremely well and doesn't wake up at night at all. She naps well. She's potty trained during the day. She doesn't eat or drink as well as we would like and is very resistant to trying new foods, but she is getting better about that. She seems to be bonding/attaching super well and likes to keep track of Dad and Mom at all times. She is also very caring and doesn't like to see anyone upset or hurt.  She is super smart and figures things out very quickly, which can be both good and bad, depending on what she is getting into!! =)

Through all of her medical testing, we have so far learned that Lily might have a growth hormone deficiency, so are waiting to hear back from Riley Hospital Endocrinology about what they think we should do (watchful waiting, more workup, injections, etc.).  She hasn't grown since she's been home and is still a "whopping" 23 pounds, but she is healthy.  We were surprised and glad to find out she did not have malnutrition. She did test positive for giardia, but was treated for that successfully. An important piece of cardiac testing will be done on 10/26 by a pediatric cardiologist from Chicago. On that day, Lily will have an echocardiogram to get a good look at her heart structure. We are hoping that whatever problem she had with her heart (which was extremely vague on all of her paperwork thus far) is not an issue any longer. Either way, we will be glad to know for sure what is going on there. Yesterday was her first visit to Shriners Hospital in Chicago for the palate. The surgeon said she can be scheduled for surgery as soon as she has cardiac clearance and clearance from her other doctors, so hopefully we can find out in the next few weeks that she is fit for surgery.

At one point in time, we had read that Lily wasn't speaking. If that was the case earlier in the year, it definitely isn't the case now. She is soaking up English like a sponge and talks a LOT, though because of her open palate she is very hard to understand at times. She can't say most consonant sounds, so her words sound pretty mushy most of the time. She is able to say small sentences fairly easily, like "Mamma is tired"(wonder where she hears that one!) or "I see Sophie." More words than that and you just can't really understand her. She does love learning animal names and the sounds they make, so we hear a lot of "Cow, moo moo!" and stuff like that. She also loves seeing the farming equiment now that it is the harvest season, so we hear about tractors a lot from her. Her favorite song right now is "Tractor, Tractor," so I think that factors into it!

As part of her initial evaluation at Shriners, she saw the speech pathologist. She showed us this really neat trick to help Lily build up pressure to say some consonant sounds. If we pinch her nose, she can actually pronounce P's, B's, etc. We are very excited to learn how to do that. Lily, however, is less than thrilled about trying to practice it. She's a pretty stubborn little gal, so hopefully it won't become a power struggle! The plan is to get her into speech therapy locally before her palate repair, then take a break for a little bit while she heals after surgery before starting back up with her new and improved palate. We are eager to have Lily learn ways to pronounce words better...she has so much to say and we would love for everyone to understand her!

Here are a few pictures from the past month or so:

All of the kiddos!  From left to right, Christopher-Ryan (12), Alex (15), Lily (almost 3!), Lyriel (11), Keira (8), and Sophie (4).