Sunday, April 28, 2013

Moriah Mei

There as been so much focus around our house on Joshua and Isaac that I wanted to stop for a second and think about one of our other kiddos.

Moriah's name means "seen by YAHWEH" and comes from Genesis 22, where Abraham is asked to sacrifice his son Isaac in the mountains of Moriah. When God provides the ram, Abraham names the place, "The Lord will provide."

Before Moriah was any more than an idea in our minds, the Lord gave us this name for her. Now she has been home for four and a half years and we continue to be amazed at this little one that the Lord has  given to us and how He continues to provide for her and for us.

I am sometimes asked about Moriah's special needs. The reality is that there is quite a long list. But if you interact with her for any length of time, you are likely to forget that she has any issues at all. She is bubbly, funny, affectionate, bossy (especially with Isaac), creative and tender hearted. She loves to think about God and focuses on the truth that He is always with us and will never leave us.

Double Trouble!

I'll never forget the day we saw her picture and information for the first time. Her name, Zheng Mei, seemed so small and her little eyes pierced our hearts. When we received her file, it indicated that she had a small thumb, hole in her heart and cerebral atrophy. We didn't know what that last one meant, but moved forward truly believing that this was the little girl we had waited for.

Such a sweet little face!

The day she came to us in China, I had Andy come in the bathroom where I was giving her a bath and take a look at her back. There was a big bump on her spine that just didn't look right to me. After a long string of medical tests and appointments after we got home we discovered that she has VATER association (also known as VACTRL). The acronym refers to the different parts of the body that can be affected. In her case, her spine (kypho-scoliosis), her little thumb and her heart (which has pretty much healed on its own.) Another revelation to us was that the "brain atrophy"which we had kind of dismissed was in fact probably the result of being shaken. Another year and a half would go by before we would discover that Moriah is completely deaf in her right ear. Quite a long list of issues for a little girl.

Some of our first moments....I look happy, Moriah's not sure what just happened.

This is the "don't take my picture" face.

Moriah has spent a great deal of time in PT, OT and speech. She had surgery to implant a BAHA device to help her hear. She may still need spine surgery, though we are still in a wait and see mode. Her learning is not as fast as some kids, but she is spunky and determined and she doesn't give up easily. Her gross motor development has been slow, but she can now run and can almost skip. I have come to expect that her pace may be slower than others, but she will move forward in her own time. Her teacher told me recently that she hears Moriah trying to keep some of the boys in her class on track by whispering to them what they should or should not be doing. She has become passionate about art, to the point that two of my end tables are now decorated with her original artwork scratched into the surface. (Perhaps scratching your name into the surface isn't the best way to escape detection...just a thought.)

This is "Ok, you can take my picture, but I'll do a cheesy smile" face.

Happy smile after a trip to that magical place.

My two daughters in a Hutong in Beijing
Moriah and Kimberly share a special bond as the only girls in this bunch of boys. They have such a sweet friendship despite the ten years difference in their ages.

God saw this precious little girl, left by her parents on the steps of a hospital in Zhengzhou, China for reasons we'll never know. From there to the orphanage, to a Chinese family for foster care, back to the orphanage, to Swallow's Nest (an American-run foster home) and finally to us. (All in 19 months!) Such a small and insignificant person in the scheme of the world, but seen by God. Loved by God. Provided for by God. Given to us as a precious treasure.

Gotcha Day #4!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Love Comes Softly

Remember that book? I think I was in eighth grade or so when I first read it. We have since enjoyed the movie and the subsequent ones. Lives were thrown together out of necessity and there was much grieving and pain on all sides. But slowly, slowly hearts began to open and love grew. In some ways the main characters (Marty and Clark, wasn't it?)  gained a richer love for each other because of the grief that brought them together.

I feel like this is a good picture of our lives with the boys. Our love for each other has grown slowly, almost imperceptibly at times. We have to consciously look back at how it was at first to remember how far we have come.

We are also aware of how far we still have to go.

Yesterday, Josh seemed fine when I picked him up from school, but by the time I sat down with him to help with homework he was hiding his head and crying. It took me several minutes to get him to make eye contact with me so that I could try to figure what was wrong. Turns out, he was devastated because a few days ago, I told him that I would get him some gum next time I went to the grocery store. I went to the store yesterday while he was at school but completely forgot about the gum. I know it was not about the gum. It was more of a question of "do you love me?" and "can I trust you?" It brought into focus again how fragile he is. It provided a good opportunity to talk about how much I love him and yet how even when I try my hardest, I will fail him at times. I reminded him that God will never forget a single promise he has ever made. We joke about my "old brain" and how it is easy for me to forget things, but that doesn't mean I don't think about him and love him. Today I had to take him out of school early for a doctor appointment so we stopped at Walgreens and he picked out some gum. I apologized to him again for forgetting the gum and reminded him that God is thinking about him all the time and will never fail him.

This is just a small example of the sort of thing that happens often around here. 

Isaac's recent challenge has centered around asking for what he needs. Kids who grow up in institutional settings often lose their voice. As babies, they cry for food or clean diapers or the reassuring touch of an adult. When no one comes, they eventually stop asking. Isaac will say (in a very small and timid voice), "I sure am thirsty." or "I wish I could have some milk." So we are working hard to teach him to use his words to ask directly for what he needs. "May I please have a drink?" It's a weird thing because he knows the words to use, but it takes confidence to express them in a polite but direct request. It comes down to trusting that we will meet his needs. 

Two cheesy smiles!

In addition to learning to love us, these two are learning how to be siblings to each other. It's not always easy, but we see the Lord at work as He grows love for one another in their hearts.

Forever Family....

We are daily reminded of our need for the grace of the Savior. How could we meet the challenges of even one day without Him? We have confidence that love will continue it's soft journey into our hearts because the Author of this story is love and He does all things well.