Monday, August 29, 2011

surgery today

I had every intention of posting a Sunday Snapshot yesterday with lots of newsy news about how Jiushu is doing--the great and the not-yet-great.  But life got away from me, in part because he had surgery this morning to repair an inguinal (groin) hernia, the very same surgery his older brother had two years ago.  Now they have matching scars! 

No pics, unfortunately, because we had to be there at 6:00.  That's A.M.  Sheesh.  I probably haven't seen 4:50 (my wake up time) in the morning since nursing my last baby, and I don't really plan to see it again for a while.  So grabbing my camera was an afterthought. 

Anyway, God's grace was all over our early morning trek.  I listened to the IHOP Joy album on the way, and worshiped and prayed.  The lights of the city as I headed downtown were all gorgeous and twinkly in the dark.  We arrived at 6:00, and J headed back for surgery at 7:30.  He was very calm and happy as we waited...a miracle in itself, seriously.  Surgery went very well, and he came out of anesthesia just fine.  He's been sleepy today and a bit fussy, but actually LESS fussy than every other day this past week...again, a miracle. 

I've heard other parents say that surgery scheduled in the early months after adoption can be a good bonding/attachment experience, as the child receives comfort and loving care from mom and dad.   It appears this may be true for J.  I can tell he's in a bit of pain, but he's already resumed his playing and movement on the regression there.  And I'm enjoying his new, snugglier self. 

The last time he had surgery he was two weeks old, alone and parentless in China.  I'm so glad this time was different. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

whose report?

In the weeks before we traveled to China to adopt Jiushu, we received several unsettling updates from his orphanage.  Here are a few highlights: 
  • "...nerve...damaged already."
  • "...legs are not strong enough."
  • "He cannot bear weight; he cannot walk or sit alone." 
  • "After the surgery, he has not recovered well...[his] body does not have enough strength." 
They were so wrong.

God had something different to say about this child, a new name and identity to give him, in partnership with us, his parents.  The boy we met in China did, indeed, fit their description.  For a matter of days, weeks.  But no longer. 

Guess who stood, completely unassisted, in the middle of the living room floor yesterday for over sixty seconds?!?  Guess who scurried for her camera, hoping he'd still be standing?

We have delighted in watching Jiushu blossom physically since coming home.  Initially, our helping him learn to move and use his body was met with fear and angry resistance...and occasionally still is.  He did not know his capabilities because he had never been given opportunity to explore them.  But I now see in his eyes wonder at what he is able to do, and determination to keep doing it.  I watch his strong little back working to gain balance, and his small brown toes gripping the carpet with all their might...and I am proud of my son, not merely because of what he can do, but because of the worth and purpose and beauty the Father endued Jiushu with from the moment of his conception.  I continue to pray that God would align my heart and mind with His thoughts and feelings, not only about Jiushu, but about all my children.  About my husband.  Even about me. 

In Numbers 13 and 14, Moses sends men to explore the land of Canaan which God had promised to the Israelites.  The spies came back with a fearful and negative report, but Caleb and Joshua silenced them saying, The land is great!  And the Lord will lead us there.  Don't be afraid of the people there...their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us!  Caleb and Joshua never claimed there weren't giants in the land or that the walls weren't fortified; the spies had not given a false report.  But God's promise and directive to them loomed larger in their minds than what they saw with their natural eyes. 

I want to walk in faith like these men who, because of their belief that God was who He said He was and that He would do what He said He would do, were allowed to enter into this land of goodness and abundance and play a role in God's great destiny for Israel.  Left to my own devices, I tend to focus on the "giants in the land"--for me, right now, the disobedience and tantrums of one kid, the intensity and stubbornness of another, my own unruly emotions, the struggle simply to occupy five people all day long and to know His will for our home and our ministry--to the exclusion of the big, fat fruit hanging all around me!  That's why I need supernatural vision and hearing to see what God is doing and to hear what He is saying about my children, my marriage, my life and world--things which I often have trouble discerning except by the Spirit.  I don't want complaining and unbelief to keep me from the promised good stuff!

And now, since I am a worship leader, I can't close out this post without the lyrics from an oldie-but-goodie by the wonderful Ron Kenoly:  

Whose report will you believe?
We shall believe the report of the Lord.

His report says
I am healed,
His report says I am filled.
His report says I am free,
His report says victory.

Friday, August 19, 2011

i won't

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest
if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9 

Just don’t give up. Don’t give in. If you don’t quit, you win.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sunday snapshot: {the littlest littles}

These first three photos, taken within days of each other, are in a series simply entitled Stuck.  Subtitle:  Parenting is More Fun When You Can Laugh at Your Children's Predicaments.  [Disclaimer:  no Chinese babies were actually harmed during this photo session.  Ticked, yes.  But not harmed.] 

First the funny, then the cute.

Princess Tantrumella
We recently switched her from her toddler bed back to the pack-n-play; she was bothering the other kids, pulling books off shelves, emptying drawers of their clothes, sleeping in front of the door, etc.  She needed containment.  This week we realized she had defeated us.  So of course I wanted to watch her do it.

Now for the really sweet, including the ever-adorable post-bath baby photos, which are really hard to get when I'm both the bath administrator and the photographer.

Dad's goatee is awesomely fun!

Sunday Snapshot

going into hiding

If you are the parent of at least one small kiddo, you have probably, at some point, entertained visions of a disappearance, however brief.  Maybe just so you can take a shower, use the restroom, or make a phone call with the faintest semblance of privacy?  Or maybe to curl up with a good book on a long, lazy afternoon with no thought for anyone else's needs?  I'm not saying I've had these thoughts recently...I'm speaking entirely hypothetically here.  Entirely.

But here's another spin on it:

You are my hiding place
you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. 
Psalm 32:7

He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.   
2 Samuel 22:20

    But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
   let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
   that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous;
   you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
Psalm 5:11-12  

Keep me as the apple of your eye;
   hide me in the shadow of your wings.
Psalm 17:8

Going into hiding is looking better and better. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

MRI today

Still doing OK at this point. 

Not enthralled with the blood pressure cuff. 

Sad baby.  I hope it's not wrong of me to take photos of his crying.  I mean, I see this face quite often in every day life...along with all the cute, happy why shouldn't I capture it on camera? 

Next came the IV.  It took a couple of tries to get his vein...BOO!  This prep room was far as I was able to go with him.  He was not happy being taken away from mommy by a strange nurse. 

After...sleepy, drugged out baby.  He woke up pretty quickly, very upset.  The juice helped. 

The nurse warned me about keeping his head stable on the drive home so he could breathe, since he was still coming out of sedation.  His car seat positions him pretty upright, so I wound up a blanket to try to steady his head, but I could tell it wasn't working.  So I pulled the car over in the middle of downtown, at rush hour, to tilt the car seat at a non-recommended angle, wedging it against my driver's seat (I was smushed up against the steering wheel and sitting bolt upright) and wadding the blanket underneath.  Five minutes later I look in the rear view mirror to find the entire car seat, with Jiushu who had finally fallen asleep, careening dangerously on its side.  At the next red light, I turned around and heaved with all my might to re-wedge the car seat behind my seat for the rest of our drive home.  Great.  Problem solved.  Until I pulled into the garage and saw this.  Hmmm, something 

Note to self for future reference:  When bringing home young child who is still recovering from sedation, make sure, before leaving the parking garage, that car seat is securely fastened for the duration of the trip home at an angle which will promote continued breathing of said child. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

2 months home and my post on WAGI

Jiushu came home two months ago today...two months that have both flown and slogged by, if you know what I mean.   

Sad, or just serious?  Hmm. 
We are moving toward each other...that's the phrase that best describes the current state of our union.  Moving toward love and familiarity.  Moving toward "this-is-the-way-it's-always-been."  J's heart is opening to us, which makes it so much easier for ours to open to him.  And as he relaxes and trusts, he is realizing that learning new skills is no longer cause for anxiety, fear, or anger. 
a few moments of voluntary tummy-time...gasp!
First Steps evaluated Jiushu last week.  In gross motor skills, he is developmentally an eight month old.  Which saddens my heart, since he is 15 months old, but if he'd been assessed immediately upon coming home, he probably would have scored as a five month joke.  He's made tremendous progress in two months!  He is tolerating food with more texture, no longer cries through every diaper change, goes to bed and wakes up calm, and is trying to actively engage with his world, a very different child from the passive, weak child we first met.  We confess that we've already made some mistakes in valuing his physical progress above his emotional security in our eagerness to catch him up (excellent post about this here), and have made positive corrections in how we relate to him.  Thank God for new mercies...and Jiushu has shown us mercy too, it seems.  He is definitely demonstrating attachment to his mama!  (That's me!)

His very first "chocolate sandwich cookie".  Was interesting watching him gum it into submission.
In other news, he has an MRI on Thursday...sort of a baseline to make sure there's no teratoma regrowth and see what exactly was removed in his surgery as a newborn.  In case you missed that part, Jiushu was born with a large sacrococcygeal teratoma which was removed in China when he was two weeks old.  Then we see a neurosurgeon the following week, to discuss the MRI, maybe?  At the end of the month he'll have surgery to repair a hernia (or two).  And that, my friends, should be the end of our doctor visits!  As for First Steps, although Jiushu fell just a hair short of the requirement of a 50% delay, he may receive services anyway thanks to the efforts of the physical therapist who evaluated him, who just happens to be a gal we know from church. 

Swinging with sis

Practicing his standing skills, post cookie.  In the background is my good friend, also an adoptive mom.
To those of you following behind, I hesitate to pontificate that things will get better!  Because 1) It's so very generic.  "Better" means different things to different families.  And 2) When you are in the thick of it, struggling with exhaustion or fear, and trying to meet the needs of a traumatized child who is a stranger to you (not to mention those of the rest of your family), those words ring a bit hollow.  At least they did for me. 

So I'll just say this:  we are all much happier, stronger, and less afraid than we were even two weeks ago!  

And now, as if this post weren't already long of my earlier posts, written when things definitely were not going so well, was chosen for We Are Grafted In, a fabulous adoption blog and forum.  I'm so honored!  Please follow the link to check out my post along with dozens of others which have inspired, encouraged, and informed.  I even get a very special button!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

song for the orphan and the orphan-no-longer

My oldest son spent every evening this past week at VBS, a.k.a. "Summer Jam."  Last night the whole family went to pick him up and watch the finale/recap of the week.  Jiushu sat (or stood) on my lap the whole time, attempting to wiggle free only a couple of times.  Not sure where he thought he was headed.  I'm just speculating here...I wonder if kids who have lived in orphanages are used to being held or sitting in laps.  But he and I had a delightful time!  I liked being with him, watching him smile at my friend sitting behind us.  I enjoyed his contentment and relaxation in my lap...still a rarity most days.

One of the kids' songs for the week, which we sang again last night, was "I Am Not Forgotten," a song recorded by Israel Houghton on his Alive in South Africa album (which we own and love).  Yay for not hating the VBS songs!  And on that note, do all our worship songs have to be so vanilla?  Ah, but I digress.  So we were singing it singing it right in his ear...and it hit me...whoa...what an amazing truth for my son to internalize.  The Father to the fatherless has always seen him, loved him, and known his name, just as He knows the name of every child still waiting to know the love and permanence of a family.

Friday, August 5, 2011


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.              
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I find myself blessed to have some wonderful women in my life.  The crazy thing is I will never meet most of them in person.  Not in this world.  And yet they have become part of my story, part of my everyday survival.

I "met" Janet on our adoption agency forums, and was thrilled to travel to China with her.  We were even on the same flight from Chicago to Beijing!  Since returning home we have shared with each other the honest and difficult details of life with four kids, one newly adopted, and the nitty gritty of multiple doctor visits, all while trying to home school.  I can be real with her, and I trust her.  I think she trusts me too.

I "met" Lynne when I read a very transparent post she wrote about learning to love her adopted daughter.  I linked to her post on my own blog, and we are now bloggy friends.  Her comments and emails to me have given me hope, and the courage to reveal that adoption is more than lovely sepia-toned photographs, realizing that people actually benefit from hearing the rest of the story.  She was one of the first to reach out to me and help me to believe I'm not alone. 

I know Heather in real life.  She is in the process of fostering-with-the-intent-to-adopt an older boy she met at a Royal Family Kids' Camp.  She got ahold of God's heart for this child, and brought him into her heart and family.  We have supported each other through the respective red tape of our processes, and I love knowing that she's in my corner.  

And there are countless others with whom I have swapped stories and prayers and questions and humor, who have brightened my day with a kind word here or there...offered a cyber-hug, so to speak.  Some are not even adoptive parents, but we speak a common language.  They affirm that adoption is sometimes painful and messy but also rewarding, like childbirth, that my feelings are acceptable, that my experiences are not entirely unique, that though we are miles apart, we are in this together.  I've received an unexpected gift as I've openly (and with some trepidation) shared my own heart here in these posts--the friendship and trust of these other women.  Strong and beautiful, they are.

We receive comfort.  We offer comfort.  It's just the way God intended.