Friday, May 25, 2012

Ordinary Miracles

S'mores were a big hit! We just used the gas grill to heat the marshmallows. 
Joshua ate about six!

We made new friends at the zoo!
I love the views from the zoo. You can see the whole city below.

Caleb was amazed when this birdie landed right on his shoulder.

And then, Josiah found a friend of his own!

Being a family of eight has been nothing short of miraculous. Most of the miracles have occurred in the routine of daily life. They would be easy to miss if we weren't looking. But we are looking...trying to be aware of how the Lord is at work in our lives and the lives of these little ones. And we are amazed. Before the boys came home, one of our very specific prayers was that they would be prepared to have a family. God answered that prayer and worked in their hearts so that they were ready to love us. From the first day, they have been able to show affection and want hugs from us. There is still work to be done in this area, of course. Attachment is a long process. But we are so thankful for the progress we've made.

We prayed that they would be able to transition from their life in China to life here. We asked God to give them comfort. They have grieved at times, but for the most part, they seem genuinely happy and glad to be here. Each new day is an adventure for them. I am trying to give them as many sensory rich experiences as possible. Bubbles, the park, the zoo, the rice tub, painting, play dough, water in the sink, window markers, drawing, sandpaper letters, blocks, shaving cream...we do it all. (And some TV, too, when a quiet break is needed).

We continue to pray for their understanding of the Gospel. It is cute to hear them pray. Joshua has memorized The Lord's Prayer and he likes to say it with us when we pray it together at church. It blesses our hearts to hear him even though the meaning of many of the words are still out of his reach. The boys are good about reminding us to pray before bed and before meals.

There are certainly hard days. Times when the road ahead seems long and it is all I can do to focus on the day ahead. My brain gets tired of trying to decipher their Chinglish and I can only imagine how difficult it still is for them to understand all of the particulars not only of our language, but of our culture. There are mornings when I dread the arrival of all of the little feet coming from their bedrooms  ready to start the day (with lots of needs and demands from the moment their feet hit the floor). But there are also the smiles, hugs, giggles, and the joy of belonging. Of being safe and well fed, loved and disciplined...of being HOME and part of a family.

We are so thankful for the love and support of our families and our church family. They have embraced the boys (despite their quirks) with love and acceptance. This extended family has already enriched the boy's lives so much.

Ordinary miracles every day.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Surgery Summer Begins

School is winding down. The flowers are blooming and the days are long. Dinner on the deck is delightful. We are enjoying all of the usual signs that summer is around the corner. This year, however, we find ourselves embarking on a very different kind of summer. Plans are made. Reservations are set...for the hospital, that is. We will be spending a significant amount of time there and in doctor's offices for the next few months.

Tomorrow, Isaac will start us off with the removal of his  tonsils and adenoids.  He has very large tonsils and adenoids. The doctors feel like it may help him to breath and sleep better. We still have many questions about his medical situation. Several specialists and a skull to base-of-spine MRI are still ahead for him. But we are hopeful that this first step will be helpful to his well-being. We have started PT with him as well.

Then, on June 6th Moriah will have surgery to put in her BAHA. The BAHA (Bone Attached Hearing Aid) consists of a little post that is surgically placed. A processor will be placed on this post which will send sound from her good ear around to her deaf ear, thus giving her the perception of sound on both sides. We have been looking forward to doing this for her for a couple of years. She is now finally old enough and big enough to qualify. For six months, the post will heal and become part of her bone. So it will be closer to Christmas before she really gets to see what it will be like to hear well. I am excited for her. We feel like it will help her socially and academically.

Next, on June 12th, Joshua will have a lamenectomy. This surgery will release the base of his spinal cord. It has become fastened down as a result of his scoliosis. We anticipate about three days in the hospital. The surgeon kind of laughed when we met with her on Friday. She is the same doctor who released Moriah's tethered cord three years ago. (Isaac also had a tethered cord which was repaired in China.) It's not every day that she sees one family with three kids with the same problem. About four weeks after this surgery, he will have his big scoliosis surgery. We are anticipating somewhere between one to three weeks in the hospital for that one. They will place titanium rods down the majority of his spine. Whether it will be one surgery or a series of surgeries over the course of his hospitalization will depend on how his body responds to the spine movement.

Sounds fun, huh?

Even though no one would choose for their children to suffer or endure surgeries, we do have joy in knowing that the children will each have an improvement  in their quality of life as a result of these procedures. For Isaac and Moriah, their growth, health and learning will improve. For Joshua, his life will be saved as his scoliosis would, if left untreated, crush his heart and end his life. We are also praying that the Lord will use these experiences to grow our bond with the children. Each one will need special love and care. We also pray that they will experience the peace and love of their Heavenly Father. He has loved and cared for them even before they were ours. This is our hope and confidence.

We are so thankful for so many who lift these little ones up in prayer! God has been so faithful to them each day of their lives. He will sustain them (and us) and bring about their good and His glory through these things.

"The surrendered accept that pain is always but growing pains. And growth is always a gift--even when trials are the tutor."--Ann Voskamp

The other three kids will have a challenge this summer as well as their own fun will have to be close to home and they will need to help with the little ones. Their hearts are already being stretched as they minister to "the least of these."  right here in their own family. I am so thankful for the Lord's work in their hearts.

Handsome Joshua who will soon be several inches taller!

The Tethered-Cord Trio

Who wouldn't love that sweet face? 

Friendly and smart, little Isaac has already come a long way in his short time home.