Monday, January 23, 2012

Beautiful Children and God's Amazing Blessings

Who are these kids? They come from places with names like Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Guangdong, and others. Now they all live locally. All adopted from China. Some were "older child" adoptions. At least half were considered "special needs" adoptions by China. Heart defects, slow growth, limb differences, cleft lip and palate. These are just some of the needs represented here. And these needs have come into play in their lives in a variety of ways. Between them they have had numerous surgeries, speech therapy sessions, PT, OT, hearing and vision issues, and have visited specialists of almost every discipline in pediatric medicine. Some have needed only their local pediatrician. Some "obvious" needs have needed no interventions at all. Others have had "hidden" needs that have come up over the years, even if their adoption wasn't originally a "special needs" adoption. Many have had emotional needs to be addressed relating to attachment or fears or clinginess or adoption or being Chinese in various ways. Some of these children embrace being Chinese with everything inside them. Others prefer to just not discuss it at all. Still others have swung between these two or fall somewhere in the middle. Some are energetic and passionate and outgoing. Others are quieter and more reflective. But in reality, every one of the children in this picture had the exact same "special" needs: the need for a family, the need to belong, the need to be loved, the need to not be limited by their circumstances. Today these children are excelling in school. They play soccer and baseball. They take piano lessons. They are Girl Scouts. They take gymnastics and dance and sing in school or church choirs. They have learned to ride bikes and roller skate and go across the monkey bars. They are loved by moms, dads, sisters, and brothers. They have cousins and grandparents and uncles and aunts. They have families. They are loved, they are healthy, they are happy. They are beautiful children of God. So, yes..they are blessed.

But more than that, they *are* a blessing. They love big and generously. They teach me to love big and generously! They have expanded the hearts of all around them. They are survivors who have overcome more in their (2,3,4,5,6,7,8, or 9+) years than many adults. They show us what courage is. And Joy. They laugh with infectious joy. They cuddle up next to a parent on a Saturday morning. They reach a hand out to a little brother or sister to help. They giggle with one another as they attempt to use chopsticks to pick up chips. They make up games while the grown-ups talk. The older ones love on the little ones. The little ones look up to the older ones.

Many of these children don't actually know one another all that well. Due to time and busyness..some may only get together once or twice a year. Others see each other regularly at school. Some just met the day this photo was taken. But they are connected by shared experiences just as their families are connected by the experience of loving them. And it's my prayer that as they grow older and become "tweens and teens" (many approaching fast!), they will draw strength from that shared experience together. Tonight, I celebrate these children who make my world a better place. And I pray for the ones who still bear the label that *these* children are forever freed of: orphans. There are so many girls and boys just like these in China, in Uganda, in Hondurus, in the United States, and beyond. Please pray for them. Pray for them to find families. Pray for families to welcome them and love them. Pray for them to know their worth is not tied to the labels the world gives them, but to who their Father is.

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy New Year!

Monday, January 16, 2012

What I Know to be True

This post is for me to remember more than anything else. You are welcome to read it if you'd like. (because of course if I didn't want anyone to read it, it would not be on a blog!) It's personal, but not private.

It's amazing how God whispers to us sometimes, and uses some of the most unlikely things. God has been whispering to me this week through several things including some sweet friends. But the most unusual thing He's been communicating through is a book series I read over Christmas break. It was The Hunger Games trilogy. Maybe you've heard of it - it's pretty popular these days I think. But it's not the type of book I'd normally be interested in or even try to read. ( I think it might actually be classified as a "young adult book" but shh..I read it anyway!! ha ha!) But I started the first one and found myself "sucked in" and had to finish it. Now, before you go out and buy it thinking it's going to change your life..don't. There's nothing theological or Christian about it. In fact, it's not a "feel good" book at all. If you read it, read it for the plot and the story, because that's probably all you'll get out of it.

*BUT*, there's a couple parts in the series where the main character is confused and distraught about things going on around her in the "game". And when she does, she uses a strategy someone taught her to "go back to what you know". In the moments of complete uncertainty, she repeats the things she knows to be completely true and unchanging. Sometimes, it's only her name and age that she can state. But whatever it is, she says what she *knows* to be true and from that gets a bearing on who she is.

I hadn't thought much about the book other than "that was interesting". But then this past week, I had a time of uncertainty myself. I took Sadie to the nephrologist (kidney dr.). What I knew before the visit was that she had 2 functioning kidneys - but in the wrong place. Her left kidney was in her pelvis and at last check, was on the small side. Her right was a little high and was a normal size. But in the two times she's been before, every bit of her lab work has come back completely normal. I was told her kidneys worked great and to "have a nice life and check back in every couple years". This past week was that "in a couple years" check-in. I was very laid-back about the whole thing because I expected to be told the same thing again. I expected it to be very routine. But it wasn't. It wasn't bad news. Her kidneys are doing okay. But it wasn't great news either.

From her ultrasound, I learned that her left kidney has not grown at all. It's in the 0 percentile for her age, height, and weight. It might be working a little, but not much if at all. The good news is her right kidney is compensating pretty well. It's growing great (83 percentile) and her dr. was happy about that. It's functioning pretty close to "normal", but not quite 100%. Her blood work showed that there's too much acid in her blood. (Kidneys among other things filter out the acid of the blood). Everything else was within normal limits. But that was enough to do two things. First, she has to take medicine daily now to correct that. Actually 3 times a day. Her dr. said he has had kids outgrow this before, but that she very well may need it the rest of her life. The second thing that did was bring her score on some measure that measures kidney function down just a little bit to the point where he wrote on her chart "Stage 1 renal insufficiency" which basically means "stage 1 chronic kidney disease". We didn't talk about that really..just the acidosis (acid in her blood). But I saw him write it as I was leaving and talking with his nurse. And I was still kind of wrapping my brain around the fact that they didn't say "looks great - see you in two years" and instead were writing a prescription for a long-term daily medicine. Of course I did what you shouldn't do and came home and googled. And what I found was more questions than answers. That doesn't really mean anything. It might mean that she has this issue with acid in her blood and that she may or may not have this issue all her life. and that's all. OR she could progress with a progressive loss of kidney function slowly over the years..into stage 2, and beyond. And that's scary stuff. But there is absolutely no way to know any answers at this point. All I can do is give her the medicine and take her back for her follow-up appointment in 1 year and see what her labs say then. Her dr. did tell me that this acidosis did not predict anything for the future. There are no symptoms in these early stages. And this is also why it's called a chronic disease. Ther's nothing acutely wrong..but it's a long term thing to watch and treat as needed. And I found this unsettling in the couple days after I received this news. Unsettling because of course I wanted to "fix" the problem, and I can't. In fact, I don't know how big of a problem it even is. So yeah, some uncertainty and worry about the future set in. And I have some sweet friends who I know are praying for Sadie, and for our family. That helps a lot. And then yesterday, I heard God whisper "Go back to what you know". And I remembered the book where the character stated what she knew to be absolutely true. So, that is what I am doing. I am stating what I know to be completely true.

I am loved by God. He has good plans for my life and future. He has been faithful and trustworthy in the past. He is still faithful and trustworthy. My daughters are loved by God. He has good plans for their lives and futures. God is able to do exceedingly more than I think or imagine. He did do exceedingly more than I could think or imagine to bring us together as a family. He put Sadie in our family (Hannah too!) in a way that I knew that I knew she was meant to be a part of us. There were so many possible obstacles and yet..nothing was an obstacle. He brought her to my attention when I wasn't even looking to adopt again just yet. He worked miracles with timelines, paperwork, and money. HUGE miracles. From a human standpoint, her adoption should have never happened. But it did. Because God is not limited by our circumstances. And because He put her in my family, he has given me everything I need to be her mother and to handle whatever is thrown at us. Regardless of how many specialists or doctors we see, or how many medications or surgeries or other treatments come our way. He has given Sadie a deep joy in life and a trusting, easy-going spirit and an unbelieveable ability to handle medical procedures with ease. (When the nurse asked if I was going to hold her down for the blood draw, Sadie looked at her like she was crazy and said "no. She doesn't have to hold me! I'm good at this!" And then she sat there at chatted with the nurse while she drew blood and never even flinched!). I also know that God led us to see a nephrologist in the first place.And he used an outstanding dr. to do it. NOTHING in Sadie's paperwork from china indicated kidney issues. She has had (and still has) no symptoms that would lead me to take her. But the adoption clinic dr. noticed on her first visit she had a teeny tiny "ear pit" on her left ear. (looks like a little freckle). And from that, she told me that *could possibly* indicate kidney issues..probably not..but why don't we get it checked out just to be sure. Amazing! That's what led us to our kidney dr. in the first place. And because he has been following her, he caught this very very early...and that could possibly help prevent further kidney damage. Regardless, God created Sadie and knit her together himself. He is not suprised. He knows exactly how big her kidneys are and what they can do and what cells are or are not working exactly right. And He is not limited by any of that.

That, is what I know to be true today. And today, that brings peace.