Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cleft Clinic Time Again

While Sadie has had numerous doctor appointments in the last 6 months, Hannah has mostly had a break from all that. But today, it was her turn. Hannah and I spent some time this morning at the cleft clinic. This was our 8th visit there (counting pre-op and post-op visits), so pretty routine by now. Today's visit was great - good news and very quick. We were in and out in about an hour and 15 minutes. Typically it's about 3 hours. ENT / Audiology was good. She didn't have a formal hearing test this time because her last 3 were normal. But they did check her tubes and check for fluid in her ears. All was good there. Her speech evaluation was good too. The evaluator said pretty much what we already knew - her resonance (voice quality - often a problem for kids with clefts) was great, she had just a couple of articulation errors but they didn't seem cleft-related, and she seemed to still have a few language delays. Yep - that's what her therapists at school and the university clinic she goes to also say. And it's also what I still notice at home. Our visit with Dr. Grant was quick too. He's happy with her and said she looked and sounded great. He said to just keep putting sunscreen on her lip for outside activities and to "enjoy the lull". He said were in a time period now for her to just enjoy being a kid. (She does that anyway!) He still wants to see her once a year to check up on her, but doesn't intend to do anything else with her for a long time. He does want us to come back this summer, just before she turns six to see the oral surgeon who will do her bone graft. You may remember that she still has a hole in her gumline that will be repaired with a bone graft to give her permanent teeth somewhere to anchor to when they come in. He thinks she has a while before that, but likes to send kids to have x-rays done by about age 6. He said often it's still too early to do anything at 6, but at least you know and some kids need some minor orthodontic work prior to that surgery so it gives you time for that if necessary.

While not as busy as it been in the past, there were a few other kids we saw in passing and in the waiting area at the clinic. Hannah commented a couple times "his (or her) lip looks like mine!" or "She's from China, like me!" (We saw two other children adopted from China at the clinic this morning). It's neat to see her identify and form connections. We got to meet sweet little Madi (also adopted from China) who was at her 3 week post-op visit. I had hoped we might get a little more time to visit, but our appointment was moved up an hour earlier than originally, so we only slightly overlapped times. But Hannah's description of Madi was right on: "Aww, she's SO cute!".

We were out of there so much quicker than I anticipated and since I had already taken the whole day off of school, Hannah and I decided to do some fun things. We shopped a little, ate lunch in Subway, and played at the park together. Hannah kept grinning and saying "this is a FUN day". It was so sweet and I enjoyed getting to spend a little time with my big girl. Then, we went to suprise Sadie and pick her up early and headed outside to play some more. Now, as Hannah says, "it's back to normal!".

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Babies In Need

Sadie is from one of two city orphanages in the city of Taizhou, China. I am very fortunate that she is here and thriving as a healthy and happy three year old! But, her early life in an orphanage was risky for her health. As a member of a group of parents who have adopted from those orphanages, I have learned that the Taizhou orphanages were affected by the milk crisis that came up a couple months ago. If you haven't heard the story, companies in China were putting a chemical substance called Melamine in milk and formula. Melamine is used to make hard plastic. It is not meant for babies to drink! It has nitrogen atoms in it. Protein also has 1 nitrogen atom in it. (I may not have all the details exactly right). But, I do know the purpose of the melamine was to make the milk appear to have more protein than it really did. It was a cost-cutting scheme. So - watered down milk without the good stuff and instead a chemical that makes plastic. (Melamine first made the news several years ago when it ended up in pet food in the U.S. and Canada and caused death and kidney stones in pets!) Several infants in China died from this. Many others were hospitalized. When the story broke, several brands of infant formula were recalled. Orphanages across China began having their children tested for kidney issues. The most common effect seems to be kidney stones. However some children had more serious kidney issues. Adoptive parents also began having their children tested for kidney stones. Some children living here in the U.S. adopted from China have tested positive, a few even without symptoms (though most had some sort of symtom). Some of these kids were adopted as far back as 2005. Neither of my girls have been tested for kidney stones. Hannah has been here 2.5 years (and was off formula for a while before that I'm sure) and has shown no symptoms. Sadie also has shown no symptoms, but I do plan to ask some more questions when we have our appointment at the international adoption clinic in December. I feel like she's fine mainly because she had a complete kidney work-up that should have caught stones or kidney damage if there was any. She got a glowing report from the dr. on her kidneys. However, they weren't *looking* for stones - we were there for other reasons. So, I do want to ask some questions just to be safe. Especially since now we know that her orphanage was using Sanlu milk powder, one that was recalled. But my purpose in posting this tonight is really for the other children left in the orphanages in Taizhou. One of the members of our group found an article on Taizhou orphanages and the milk crisis online. Due to this and some other connections that have been made, we have reason to believe that the orphanages there are having a hard time getting safe formula for the infants in their care. Most of the domestic brands were pulled from the shelves after the melamine news. Especially the cheap ones that the orphanage could afford. That's a good thing..very good. But, the imported ones are more expensive and the orphanages there already manage on very little. I got to visit Sadie's orphanage. My impression was that they did the best they could with what they had. She clearly had been cared for and loved. But there was no "stuff". No toys, no place for the kids to play, no books, very old cribs, nothing for the kids to do. Very minimal surroundings. There is so much they could use. But formula for the infants? That should be a basic right. We have found a way to give back to these orphanages. Children's Hope International is partnering with us by allowing us to direct funds raised through their organization. They will purchase safe formula in China for the Taizhou orphanages. This fundraiser is only going to last through November 21st, so that the formula can get to the orphanages quickly. If you would like to help provide safe formula for these sweet babies (some of whom I got to meet and see personally!), please click on the link at the end of this. It will take you to a Children's Hope website that describes what we're doing and gives you a chance to donate. I just put mine in. I know that it's almost Thanksgiving, and then coming right after is Christmas. I also know that it's a tough time for many economically. In some ways, it's not such a good time to ask people to give something. But, perhaps it's actually the *perfect* time to ask. What a way to begin the season of advent that starts soon. To begin preparing for the Christ child baby by offering a gift that will help other babies in need. I know you only have a few days before the 21st. If you can't donate at this time (and even if you can!), please take a minute to pray for these sweet children all over the world that need us to remember them! Thanks!

Link to donate:

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Halloween , 6 months, and freedom thoughts!

Yes, this is a post that covers a little of everything!!

We had a fun halloween at our house. Hannah was Snow White. Sadie was some kind of princess, but I'm not sure exactly what. Since she didn't exactly have a concept of Halloweeen, it was hard to ask what she wanted to be. So, I pulled our dress up box out Friday afternoon so she could pick what to wear. I think they're both cute! Let's just say - Sadie now DOES have the concept of halloween down. It took her no time to master the "hold your bucket up and smile really cute and people will give you CANDY!" skill.

Yes, Sadie has learned many useful things the last six months! You know, it's hard to believe that six months ago I saw her for the first time. I've experienced God's AMAZING work so many times over the past three years. Well, and really over my life in general. And yet, when I stop the busyness enough and get still for just a few minutes to really think about it, what He did to bring both of my sweet girls home still absolutely takes my breath away. Sadie fits our family so perfectly. I remember when I saw her sweet picture on an e-mail from my agency last December...not even a year ago. I remember just *knowing* that she belonged with me. I wasn't even actively looking. I already had my paperwork in China to adopt a second child, but I thought I had a long wait ahead and thought I had plenty of time. I had a new job, Hannah was still in preschool, and I thought my plate was full enough for the time being. Not to mention I absolutely didn't have the financial resources to think about doing this again so soon. I was content to wait. But, when I saw her picture that day in December, I just knew all that went out the window. I'm sure my wonderful co-workers remember that day well too. You know, since I was absolutely useless that day and they had to pick up the slack for me! (Thanks y'all!) I remember trying to call Karla, my social worker, and she was in a staff meeting. So, I e-mailed her and just expressed an interest, but I was really thinking "she's probably already found a family by now". And then I remember checking my e-mail repeatedly to see if Karla got out of her staff meeting and e-mailed me back...and the butterflies and yet relief to hear that no, she did not have a family yet. I put her file "on hold" that day so I could talk to a doctor about her health report. But the whole time she was "on hold" (only a few days), I knew I'd already decided. Then I remember when I finally talked to the doctor who had reviewed her file. It was the last day of school before Christmas holidays and I'd left her a message and was waiting for her to call me back. I must have checked my cell phone 20 times that day to see if she'd called. Again, useless day at work...lucky to have great co-workers! And for the record, I'm not usually useless at work, only when I'm adding a new child to my family! And I'm done now. :-) Anyway, early that afternoon I did hear back from the doctor. And after I got off the phone with her, I called Karla to say "yes" officially! It was not a good time in my human terms to do another adoption!! And I'm so thankful it happened exactly when it did. God's hand was and is all over it!! And now today, I celebrate having this sweet, funny (oh - she becomes funnier and funnier every day!) three year old as my daughter for six months! I don't know how to word how that makes me feel except to go back to what I said earlier and say that it absolutely takes my breath away to think about that. I thank God for interrupting my comfortable, somewhat settled life twice now to bring about blessings beyond what I could have imagined!

I had an interesting conversation with Hannah this morning on the way to school. Today is of course election day. Well, Hannah was going to have an opportunity to vote for our president in a mock election at school. So, I thought I should kind of prep her a little by explaining what it's all about. She's in kindergarten, remember. The conversation didn't go so well as far as helping her understand what it was all about. It was just way over her head. And she wasn't alone - that was true of most kindergarteners. The democratic process to a kindergartener is more about voting whether to have pizza or ice cream for their class party. After all, that's relevant to their lives! So, I was sitting in the car trying to explain elections, presidents, and the democratic process to my five year old this morning. And I was failing big time, so I finally gave up and told her to just have a good day at school. But when she came to my classroom this afternoon with a smile and a sticker on her shirt that said "I voted for president", something stirred inside me. And it hit me - she gets to vote. Both my girls will have a vote. Not just in the mock school elections they will have over the years. Not just in the real elections they will have the opportunity to make their voices heard in. But in life. They will get to make decisions that effect their lives and that effect others lives as well. They have freedom. Freedom to live their lives the way they choose and freedom to be who they want to be. And for two little girls who began life as orphans in the world and then were adopted, that just seemed like a big deal to me. But, my prayer is that they carry that concept farther to what it's meant to be. That they realize where their true freedom comes from - that they have the freedom to worship the God who created them, that they have the freedom to become not just what they want to be, but who they are meant and called to be. And that seems like a big deal for all of us who are no longer orphans, but adopted by God!