July 19, 2015

Six months our baby

This month marks such big milestones and we will celebrate each and every one!  This month marks six months since we met our son.  Yea.  Feel free to take a minute and let that one soak in.  It is that awesome.  Six months ago we walked into this generic building, waiting with palpable anticipation.  We wondered how in the world we’d feel when we saw him, when we held him, if he’d even let us hold him.  We simply had no idea what would happen and then she walked in holding the most beautiful baby in the whole wide world and I thought my heart would burst out of my chest!  In that moment he may have still been an orphan on paper but he was ours and oh man, I was his!

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This month marks six months since we signed all the papers and the orphan legally became our son, FOREVER our son!  A child who had been left alone, a child who’d had to learn to receive affection amidst so many other sweet babies had his very own Mama and Baba all to himself… for a couple of weeks anyway!  This month marks six months since we stepped off a plane and that boy who’d had no rights received freedom as a full citizen of the USA!  This month marks six months since we stepped off another plane and that boy got a sister and brother who are convinced that there is no baby better in the whole world!

This month marks six months since Lucas has officially and physically been a part of our family.  I cannot even remember what in the world we did before he came to us.  We have settled into something that is still forming into our new normal.  He falls asleep easily almost every time.  He is pretty scheduled and predictable.  He doesn’t grieve hard crying off and on throughout every night like he used to but sleeps peacefully almost every night.  He no longer overeats and lets us know when he’s hungry and when he’s all done.  He is hilarious and smart.  He is brave and ridiculously determined.  He’s independent and loving.

He just fits.

That may sound so weird and people told me it would happen but I didn’t know what that would be like anymore than I knew how I’d feel when I first saw him but he fits in our family perfectly.  He’s a perfect mix of Gavin’s fierce adventurous spirit and Madeline’s trusting and friendly one.

The other morning Chris and I followed him as he ran, yes ran, through the halls after having a check up with one of his doctors. In that moment I was just astounded at the changes that have taken place in these months.

“That’s not even the same kid we took into Children’s that first time.” we laughed.

He’s not either.  Here are just a few things that are so very different after six months:

TWO inches of length

THREE new words

FIVE new teeth

EIGHT new pounds

LOTS of hair

CONSTANT running and climbing

The biggest difference, however, is not something that can be measured in this same way.  The biggest difference I see when I look at my son is the confidence with which he carries himself.  He KNOWS he belongs here.  He communicates his needs to us with confidence that we will meet them.  He greets us with enthusiasm and a confidence that we are equally enthusiastic about seeing him.  He falls and runs straight to our arms with confidence that there he will find comfort.  He expresses his dissatisfaction when he doesn’t get his way which he didn’t feel confident enough to do six months ago. As his confidence has grown in us, his confidence has grown in himself too.

We could not love our little guy any more than we do and we consider ourselves the luckiest family in the world to get to love him!

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I’m worth it. They searched the world for me. I’m fearfully and wonderfully made. I’m a masterpiece.

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June 28, 2015

The only truth I need to know

Adoption is this crazy world of what to share, what’s too much to share, am I violating his privacy, am I sharing for the right reasons…. it’s accepting that you’ll never know with ease what the right thing to do is… for the rest of your life. I’m pretty open about life and bless my poor kids, I do try to check with them on whether they’ll be totally humiliated if I share certain photos of them on Facebook and Instagram. If they plead and promise to clean house, I refrain. With Lucas, it’s somewhat more difficult knowing just how much to share. There are photos I took in China that I don’t plan to share. I took them for him and him alone. I took very few photos inside the orphanage because…. well, they’re not zoo animals. They are children and the fact that they’re living in an orphanage already makes them vulnerable and it just felt wrong to walk around snapping photos of them as if they’re “for show.”

Alas, I keep throwing our family out there in the world wide web via this blog and while I’m learning to do so with prayer and discretion, I trust that God will use this somehow for his glory.

Last I checked in Lucas was recovering perfectly from surgery. That was true on that day and then, a week or so later, it wasn’t. Honestly, this whole post-surgery thing was WAY harder than Chris and I expected. Our bigs have hardly ever been sick and they’ve been great sleepers from the time they were a few weeks old. Post surgery means no sleep. Post surgery means unhappy baby. Post surgery means exhausted mommy and daddy. We were chugging along handling that okay until one day I noticed that one of his surgery sites wasn’t healing perfectly. And that’s all we know about that still. We aren’t sure what that means and don’t see the doctor again for a few weeks. It was perfect and then it wasn’t. Honestly, there was a moment of despair and then I was reminded that God wasn’t surprised and this didn’t mess up his plans for Lucas. All was still okay. It just wasn’t what I expected.  I had one idea of perfection that I expected to happen and it didn’t.

One of the procedures that was completed was simply putting tubes in his ears. When we got home with him and had his hearing checked we were told that he had some hearing loss in his left ear due to a significant amount of extra fluid. Everyone agreed that putting tubes in his ears would clear up the fluid and allow him to hear.  I took Lucas for his follow-up hearing test and appointment a while back. He was a champ! He sat so well for the hearing test and even let them do a couple of different tests that they hadn’t gotten to do the first time. The audiologist felt like she was able to get a pretty good idea of how he was hearing. She walked in, sat down across from me and used that calm quiet voice you never want to hear in a doctor’s office.

“The good news is…”

What kind of crap is that anyway?  Who EVER wants to hear a sentence start that way? I digress…

“The good news is that his hearing in his right ear is perfect but he is profoundly deaf in his left ear. This kind of hearing loss is permanent. There isn’t a lot that you can do at this age but you will have to focus on how to keep him safe because without hearing in both ears he won’t be able to tell which direction sounds is coming from…. blah, blah, blah.”

She said a lot more and was very kind but she was supposed to say “The tubes cleared up all the fluid and his hearing is perfect!” Didn’t anyone give her the memo?  THAT is what I expected to hear, not some nonsense about “deaf” or “profound” or “permanent.”  Why didn’t someone give her the memo?!

I went to the waiting room to wait for our next appointment with the ENT. There were two boys who were totally deaf and they’re moms were signing to them as the moms chatted away about the different deaf schools the boys were in. The audiologist came out and said she needed me to sign something and so I followed her back to a small office where she explained that there were three deaf schools in the area and that we’d need to choose which one we’d be using for Lucas’ therapy.  She continued small talk as she showed me where I could sign so that she could send our information to the schools so that they could contact us but I just kept hearing the words “deaf schools” over and over again. I was totally numb as I signed my name and watched her assistant play with my perfect baby boy and I thought about the moms signing to their boys in the waiting room and I thought a million other thoughts.

On the way home from the hospital that day I called my best friend, Jill. I finally began to cry when I told her about signing the papers to have the deaf schools call us. Something about saying that sentence out loud broke the dam and I was finally able to feel but then I heard myself saying, “I’m shocked but God isn’t. I don’t know what all this will mean for Lucas or our family but I do know that God knows the plans he has for Lucas and they’re plans to prosper him and not to harm him, to give him a hope and a future. If God has allowed this then he will use this to bring people and experiences into Lucas’ life that will mold him into the man God intended him to be.”

I knew the truth.  I did and I believed it then and still do, with all of my heart but honestly, it was a rough twenty-four hours after that appointment. Lucas was also sick with some virus and cried pretty much nonstop. He couldn’t eat without pain and so he didn’t. “Hungry Lucas” is not a friendly guy, let me tell you.  Little man likes his food. This also meant that I didn’t get to put him down the entire time either. This was the perfect storm of stress for me because I’m the kind of person that, as long as I know what we’re dealing with, I’m okay but that whole unknown thing… yea, that doesn’t work for me. I need my Google. I need to talk to other people who have “been there.” I needed to know that someone else had a child with unilateral hearing loss and that the child turned out just fine but with a whiney, miserable sick baby that didn’t happen. So, I sent out a couple of texts explaining the situation and asking for prayer and that was all I could do… but it was also the best thing I could do.

That was four weeks ago and I feel like we’ve already come a long way. Last week we even had his first speech therapy appointment!  We are currently working with Missouri’s First Steps program and will continue to work under their Early Intervention umbrella until Lucas turns three next summer. Chris and I will go visit two of the local deaf schools tomorrow to get a better idea of any additional therapies that they have that might help Lucas hear and speak more typically. We’re learning and scheduling and expecting great things from our little guy!

I’ve been reminded of a post I wrote a few years ago several times.  Our view of what “perfect” is just isn’t the same as God’s view of perfect.  Doctors, even surgeons, can do amazing things but healing is from God.

We never intended to be talking to schools for deaf children or researching different types of hearing aids or looking at possible long term school effects of hearing loss. We simply didn’t sign up for this but we did sign up for Lucas and this is part of him. It’s part of who he is and so it is part of who our family is becoming. This is just part of being a parent. This is not horrible news. It’s just not the news we expected and that’s okay because God expected it and he has planned for it… and that’s the only truth I need to know.

This is the first time he fell asleep snuggling a stuffed animal.  <3

This is the first time he fell asleep snuggling a stuffed animal. Swoon!

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May 10, 2015

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, those who have borne children themselves, those who have raise children born to other women, those who are second moms to children and those who bear in their hearts the dream of being a mom!

For some, today is a dream come true, the fruition of their hopes and dreams as their arms are finally filled with a cooing angel of their own.  For some, it’s a day they dread each year as their arms remain empty and no one seems to understand why their smile seems forced.  For some, it’s a day that breaks open the chasm caused by the now empty arms that were full, arms that long to hold the child again but knowing they never will.

Holidays are tough.  I feel a similar, though significantly smaller, ripping of my heart when I watch a sporting event.  At the end, there is this great celebration for the victor… everyone runs together on the court or field, jumping up and down together in exuberant joy.  It’s that moment that my eyes are always drawn to the other side… the side where players walk off, shoulders slumped in defeat, hearts broken.  Perhaps it’s why I was never really competitive… that and my inherent lack of any sporting ability whatsoever.  I just find it difficult to not acknowledge those who are lost and hurting and holidays seem to place a magnifying glass over the hurts of our hearts causing the pain to intensify.

Yet, celebration is good.  It is good to celebrate the victories, the hard work, the miracles that DID happen and so I will.

Happy Mother’s Day to my own beautiful Mom!  I love you with all my heart and I appreciate how you’ve been checking on us so much.  We miss you and hope to see you soon!

Happy Mother’s Day to my own sweet mother-in-law!  You are loved and admired for how well you do things.  Thank you for sharing your son with me!

Happy Mother’s Day to my sisters and friends who walk this motherhood journey with me!  I couldn’t do it without you all!

Thank you Lord for these three amazing people who call me mom!  They are the superheroes in my life!

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