Sunday, December 28, 2014

Back To An Adoption Blog

Well, here we go again.  We are adopting a daughter from China.  Whoa!  I know!  Crazy, right?  We actually had a feeling there might be one more (a girl) while we were in the process of adopting Jordan but didn't think it would happen quite so soon.  Here's how it all went down....  If you send a Letter of Intent for another child (commit to adopting) within 1 year of adopting your first child, you can do what's called re-using your dossier.  Basically that means much less paperwork and slightly reduced/fewer fees.  We thought, if we were going to adopt again, that might be the way to go, but wait until summer to think about it to give us more time.  That, or wait 3-4 years and adopt a slightly older girl so there wouldn't be a large age gap.  But I belong to a few advocacy groups now (have I mentioned that once your eyes are opened to all the children who need homes, your heart will never be the same?) and was frequently seeing the faces of these children popping up in my facebook news feed. In fact, I saw Hallie's picture (that's what we're naming her) pretty soon after we were home with Jordan and I went right on past it.  Then, in September, an adoptive mom was looking at Hallie's file and asked if any other adoptive moms have experience with orthopedic issues... shorter limbs on one side, and hip dysplasia.  "Hmmmm...", I thought, "It sounds like Russell-Silver Syndrome".  So I talked to this woman about Hallie and I recommended she contact the MAGIC Foundation to have her file evaluated for the likelihood of her having RSS.  Well, she didn't get that far before knowing that Hallie was not her daughter and moved on.  And I moved on too.  Kind of.  Except Hallie kept coming back to my mind.  Finally I requested to see her file, out of curiosity, but we found out that because her file was designated "LID-only" we couldn't get her file.  When re-using a dossier, you can only request a "Special Focus" file.  That settled that, so again, I brushed her aside. 

After thinking of her on and off for nearly three months, I started asking around to see if she had a family yet.  If not, I thought I really should try to get someone to get her file looked at by the MAGIC Foundation, just to see if my hunch might be right.  It would, after all, be very helpful for her future family to have a lead on a diagnosis.  I found out that she still didn't have a family and that her file status had been changed to Special Focus.  Dun, dun duuun... I was torn between requesting her file so I could advocate to find Hallie a family and requesting the file for Ryan and I to consider.  Ryan and I had A LOT of conversations over the next few days about whether or not we really wanted to adopt again, especially so soon.  The decision would have been easier if adoption weren't so gosh dang expensive.  We were truly blessed with a lot of support for Jordan's adoption, but this time we would have adoption fees, plus have to upgrade to a vehicle with more seats.  A double-whammy.  And we started thinking of all the things we could do with the money those two things would take.... we could finally build our deck... convert our loft into an extra bedroom... remodel and expand the kids tiny bathroom... convert our front room into an office... travel!  The thing is, that kind of thinking just left us feeling selfish and we both agreed that the joy that adopting Jordan has brought to our family had been so much more meaningful than any of those plans could ever be.  Sooooo... we requested Hallie's file, still not sure if it was for us or to help another family find her.

I started digging for any additional information I could find on Hallie.  It's amazing what you can find out about a child on the other side of the earth by simply asking a few questions on a Facebook adoption group.  With everything we learned, we were more convinced she likely has RSS and an evaluation done by the MAGIC Foundation supports that likelihood, but ultimately, what all that digging really did was break my heart for Hallie.  She has been through so much in her short lifetime.  She has had hip dislocation surgery and casting, plus an unnecessary and very painful surgery to disrupt the growth plate in her longer leg, she is not in a fantastic foster care organization like Jordan was, she is in an orphanage known for being a little rough around the edges, of all the pictures we've seen of her, she is not smiling in a single one of them and I found other adoptive parents who met her while they were in China and said she was always quiet and serious.  All of this made me ache for this somber faced little girl who has experienced all of this without a family.  But we also had to question, what if she didn't actually have RSS?  Though I'd like to think I'm right, I'm no doctor and I'm making an assumption on limited information.  Could we handle another medical mystery if it's not RSS?  Could we handle a child with the potential for more severe emotional wounds?  What if she has a different genetic condition that is associated severe cogitative issues?  Could we take that on?  Everything in me wants to care for this child, to hold her, hug her and tell her everything will be okay but as much as I wanted to do that for Hallie, I was also terrified.  I worried and worried about what to do for several days then one day I finally felt at peace about it.  Ryan did too, well actually I think he skipped the worrying and felt okay about it much sooner than I did.  It was so unlike the experience with Jordan, where we just knew... but like with Jordan, once we knew, I was able to relax and know that everything would be okay.  So, we decided to have her file transferred to our agency that following Monday.  But we had taken too long to make a decision and another family, one already signed with that particular agency therefore taking precedence, requested her file that Monday, so the only thing we could do was wait for them to study her file and decide if they wanted to make her their daughter.  Instead of worrying and lamenting like I can imagine myself doing, I was calm and knew it would work out.  Either way Hallie would get a family, and that was what we really wanted, but if it wasn't going to be us, I was ready to beg that other family to send me the first picture they took of her with a smile on her face.  I need to see her smiling.

You can guess the rest of this story from here.  Yes, that family decided not to pursue Hallie, so we had her file transferred to our agency and submitted our Letter Of Intent on December 23 and had Pre-Approval by December 26th.  Now that we are committed, we are going to do everything we can to get Hallie home as quickly as possible.  And with that... here's Hallie:

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Constant Source Of Joy And Worry

This week has been a bit of a rough week.  In part because we've been very busy.  I don't do well with being overly busy, it aggravates me.  On top of our regular schedule, we've had several doctors/therapist appointments, school projects, Enoch's birthday to celebrate, Parent-Teacher Conferences, a baby shower, a family Halloween party and family pictures... as well as a boy keeping us at night with a high fever, another boy with Pink Eye, and a broken toilet due to someone's beloved toy cars being flushed down it.  With all of these things keeping us running around, I feel like I'm falling further and further behind on my list of things to do, which further exasperates me, but ultimately, the building stress of Jordan not eating well is what is really getting to me.  This is his fourth week on his appetite stimulant and I was hoping that by now we would be seeing some improvement.  We're not.  Our GI told us that his current intake qualifies as malnourishment and that we need to be getting more volume into Jordan... instead of 3- 5oz bottles a day, like he was regularly getting in China, he wants us to get him to take 5- 8oz bottles.  Much easier said than done.  As we've attempted to increase the volume of food we get into Jordan, it's becoming more and more obvious that his stomach is not emptying like it should and he has started vomiting like Mason used to.  *Huge sigh*  Few things can be more maddening than putting your heart and soul into getting a kid to eat, only to have him puke it all back up.  We know from past experience that an appetite stimulant won't work if the last meal is just sitting in the stomach, and putting more into an already full stomach just backfires.  Thankfully I was able to get in touch with the GI who was willing to listen to me and prescribed the Delayed Gastric Emptying medication without making us go in for another visit, but our insurance requires us to use a mail order pharmacy, so actually getting the medication is a process and we've had several hang-ups in getting it sent out... another frustration for the week.  But I think we finally have it all worked out so, hopefully, we'll have the medication next week and get the little guy's digestive track working a little bit better.

All of this has made me think back to when Mason's GI issues were at their worst.  I've gone back and re-read some of the blog posts I wrote at the time and recalling how hard it was brought tears to my eyes.  I guess I was just feeling a great deal of empathy for my old self.  We went through some rough times without the luxury of the knowledge and experience we have now.  Before we figured out what was going on with Mason, I wrote that he was "a constant source of joy and worry".  The same can be said of Jordan now.  I worry a lot about getting him the nutrition he needs to grow but he is such an incredible joy too and the more he relaxes, the more of his fun personality we get to see.  I love his scrunched up "cheese" face and the way he nods, smiles and raises his eyebrows like we're sharing an inside secret whenever we reach an understating, and I adore his little obsession with cars and how he says c-aaah-r all day long in his funny little voice.  The kid makes us smile.  We're going through a stressful period with his eating, but we know that things can get better.  I'm just feeling a bit impatient.  But look at this kid... he is so worth it!!



P.S.  I'm going to start phasing my knitting blog back into a knitting blog and just use our private family blog for family posts.  If we actually know you "in real life", and you'd like an invite, just leave a comment with your email address and I'll add you to that blog :)

Monday, September 15, 2014

6 Weeks With Jordan

It's hard to believe it, but we have been with Jordan for 6 weeks now!  Just like many major life events, it feels like no time at all and, oddly, forever at the same time.  We've started going out on little outings now and then to test the waters and feel like Jordan is ready to take on more and more every day.  Our social worker came out for our first post-placement visit and was amazed at how at ease Jordan is and how well he is adjusting.  She knows what the typical adjustment looks like, first hand, because she adopted a girl the same age as Jordan just 7 months ago.  She credits Jordan's foster care environment for how well he has done.  He really was so blessed to have been so well cared for by both of his foster care organizations.

We also had our first pediatrician visit and went over our very looong list of items to address.  We came home with referrals for 5 different specialists, radiology imaging orders, and two prescriptions.  It was a lengthy appointment, but I am so happy to get the ball rolling so we can get Jordan's medical needs taken care of and feel so lucky to already have so many great doctors lined up to work with.  When we were at this point with Mason, everything felt so incredibly overwhelming and scary.  Having made it though hard times with Mason has given us perspective and experience that makes it so much easier to take things in stride. 

Ryan and I recently had a conversation that I keep thinking about.  We've had quite a few people tell us that adopting Jordan was such a wonderful, benevolent, amazing thing for us to do and that, in turn, makes us incredible people.  When people say these kinds of things, first of all, it's uncomfortable, second, it's hard to know how to respond.  We are, in fact, very ordinary people with our fair share of shortcomings that didn't magically disappear by adopting a child.  In the midst of my thinking of how to respond to these kinds of comments, I was overwhelmed by the feeling that it's truly our Heavenly Father that is wonderful, benevolent, and amazing.  It's incredible that he knows us better than we know ourselves and will provide experiences that will benefit us in ways we never would have guessed.  God is the amazing one, for bringing Jordan into our lives.  We just did what we felt led to do.  So really, "willing" is the best that can said of us.  But even that is not extraordinary because we are surrounded by people doing the same thing every day, just in their own ways.

With that, here are a few pictures:

 Our first big outing was a hike to the "Y" on Labor Day.

 The kids were all troupers, especially Mason, who had to give up his spot in the "Maddie Pack" (hiking backpack) and hiked the whole way on his own for the first time.

 Jordan loves to be outside and handled being contained pretty well... the Fruit By The Foot that Grandma and Grandpa brought for him did help quite a bit.

 Taking a break and enjoying the scenery.

 Sitting on top of the "Y".

His eating has gone from what we thought was pretty good, to bad, and then worse.  So the fact that Jordan ate half a piece of pizza the other day was pretty impressive.  I just wish we could get ANY fruits and veggies into him!

All five kids playing in their blanket forts together.  I should have taken a picture earlier, this is after half of their fort village came down.  But either way, it makes my heart happy to see the ALL play together.

  Our charming little mess maker.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

On Bonding

Admittedly, I haven't read a single book about bonding with an adopted child.  If you know me at all, that may be a bit of a surprise because I am a researcher.  It's usually what I do.  Maybe I wasn't very concerned about researching because I already felt an overwhelming sense of love for Jordan and somewhere in the back of my mind I didn't feel like I was going to need any help in that department?  I don't know.  But though Facebook groups and reading adoption blogs I heard others talk about it and was able to piece together what "cocooning" is and why we should do it.  I thought I'd eventually read up on it and make a game plan, but the weeks leading up to our trip, packing and planning left me little time to think about reading.  About a week before our trip I did purchase one of the experts books on adoptive parenting in hopes of reading it during our "downtime" on the trip, along with my current book club read and, just in case, three other novels I've been wanting to get to.  Well, I was so jet lagged and tired on our trip that I avoided reading altogether in fear of falling asleep earlier than I should.  I guess I was a little bit over ambitious while packing the reading material. 

Anyway, from all of the bits and pieces I've gathered, "Cocooning" is basically taking a step back from the world, clearing our schedule and staying home as much as possible in an effort to help an adoptive child start to understand how a family works, initiate bonding and keep from overstimulating an already overwhelmed child.  Ryan and I talked about doing this but didn't really have a plan as to how long we would keep it up.  I've heard of families doing it for a week or two and some families who felt the need to keep it up for up for nearly a year.  But the most common recommendation is 6-12 weeks.  We decided to give it a try and play it by ear.  It hasn't been easy.  In fact, I was ready to call it quits after being home a week, things seemed to be going fairly well after all, better than I had expected, and I know how eager our family and friends are to meet Jordan, not to mention how good it would feel to get out of the house.  Then came the weekend.  With all seven of us home, there is more to do, more chaos and less one on one time.  I quickly saw much of my perceived progress recede.  It was most obvious while feeding him his bottle, he'd occasionally pull away, avoid eye contact, not wanting me to hold him or comfort him.  That's such a hard thing as a mom, wanting to comfort, but not be able to.  I guess, because for the most part Jordan has fit so well into our family and is overall a very happy child, sometimes I let myself forget how huge of a life change this kid is undergoing.  I can't imagine how hard it would be to be taken away from everything I knew and let strangers, even nice strangers, comfort me.  Remembering this was enough to recommit me to keep things simple for a while longer and I'm glad we did.

This weekend I feel like we are making major breakthroughs!!  The last few times I've put Jordan to sleep, it's been without any tears!!  Our old routine was to sing to him, then move closer to the crib, he'd cry, so we'd sing to him until he was calm again, then after a while we'd lay him in the crib and he'd start to cry some more, and we'd comfort him more.  Then we'd try to sneak away and he'd cry.  If he cried hard, we'd go back and start over, but if it was just tired fussing, we'd wait a minute to see if he'd fall asleep.  It was quite the process.  But now, now he lets me cuddle him and sing to him... then when he's ready, he'll motion for the crib, I lay him down and he goes right to sleep.  It's as easy as that!  It's as if he's learning to trust that his crib is a safe place and that we'll still be there when he wakes up.  And though I still wish I could get more food into Jordan, especially fruits and veggies, feeding time is starting to improve too.  Jordan doesn't seem as anxious while eating.  He is starting to trust that even if I won't give him a whole banana at once, if he finishes what he has and asks for more, I will give it to him.  Again, I think it's that he is starting to trust us more and more.  I'm sure we have a ways to go, but healing and bonding are taking place and it makes my heart so happy.

And now some of the very few pictures we have taken:

More time has been spent playing with old school Little People than anything else.  It's the first thing that Jordan pulls out every morning.

With all of the other kids at school, Mason and Jordan have started playing together.  It's fun to watch them interact.

Jordan loves to be outside.  He like to play on the swing set, chase the cats, point at the chickens and wander around exploring. 

Feeling big in a big kid swing.

We love this kid!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


I keep meaning to update the blog, but I told myself that it would have to wait until I finished unpacking.... I still have a duffel and backpack to go... hopefully I'll get around to them today (or at least in the next month or so) but I didn't want to wait so long that I'd forget some of the details of our trip and first few days home.  Anyway, because it was the peak of the travel season in China, and we bought tickets with so little notice, the return ticket prices were crazy high.  That meant for our return trip we could have a really long trip coming home, because of layovers, or pay thousands of dollars more to shave 8 hours off of the trip.  Ryan and I decided we'd tough it up to save the money... because we're crazy tough, or just crazy.  Our trip home, including rides to and from the airport, took 31 hours!  The crazy part was that, because of the time difference, we left early Friday morning in China and got home Friday night.  It was the longest day of our lives!

Jordan, on the van ride to the airport, getting one of his last looks at his birth country before leaving to his new home.

Taking it in.

We had to wake up at 4:45am to make our flight.  In her sleepy state, Kaitlyn put her shorts on over her pajama pants and pushed the pajamas up underneath.  Ryan and I didn't know this until we were walking into the airport and a green polka-dot pant leg dropped out of her shorts.  We thought it was hilarious, but Kaitlyn was too tired and embarrassed to see the humor of the situation. 

After I took Kaitlyn to the bathroom to take her pjs off, she perked back up and was much happier.

2 1/2 hours in, we were already tired.

Our first flight from Guangzhou to Beijing was pretty rough.

After a "quick" 2 1/2 hour layover, we had our long flight: Beijing to LA.  And it was just that... long.  Jordan had a few melt down moments but slept quite a bit and really did much better than we had expected he would.  Of course I can say that since Ryan, being "the chosen one", had him 3/4 of the time, including having to hold him through all of his naps.  I did a lot of walking up and down the aisles of the plane with Jordan, which resulted in two days of terrible motion sickness, but kept Jordan happy.  It also helped me make up some ground in "chosen" status and Jordan even let me feed him a bottle.

Just watching some Chinese Mickey Mouse to pass some time.

In LA we had to go through customs and stop in this room where Jordan was granted U.S. citizenship!

After a brutal 6 1/2 hour layover in LA, in which Ryan and I kept asking each other if the earth was shaking, or if it was just us, (you never know in California) we were so happy to finally make it to Salt Lake City!

This kid was a beautiful mess by the time we got home.

Still smiling 30 hours into the day.  The girls were amazing troupers.

I was dreading the car ride home.  It was Jordan's first time being restrained in a car seat.  And with him already not loving cars, I expected him to hate being stuck in a car seat, not in our arms.  Yes, if you didn't notice in earlier posts... no car seats in China, even if you wanted to, there are rarely seat belts to install them so we were told to leave the car seat at home.  It felt crazy at first, especially considering the wild Chinese driving, but after awhile we didn't even think about it.  Anyway, Jordan was completely chill in a car seat and has been on the few quick trips we've made since then.  Yay!

Watching the reunion of our children was one of the most joyous moments of my life.  The kids ran into each others arms and laughed and hugged and laughed some more.  The boys marveled over Jordan and the girls marveled over how much bigger the boys seemed after spending so much time with tiny Jordan.  I wish I would have thought to have the video camera ready.  I know my kids love each other, but they are typical kids and fight their fair share.  Apparently if we want to see this kind of love, we need to keep them apart more often.  Anyway, here is a picture of the "big brothers" with some of the gifts we brought them.  We told Enoch these were Chinese Opera masks and he belted "Figaro, Figaro, Figaro!"  Haha... wrong kind of opera kid.

I was so ready to get home and start eating good food again (oh how we missed fresh produce!) but Jordan had a rough first night sleep and I was so exhausted and still motion sick, so when Maddie offered to make lunch for the kids for lunch the next day, I happily took her up on the offer, even if it was just Macaroni and Cheese.  And who would have guessed, Jordan likes Mac and Cheese?  Someone told me Asians don't like cheesy stuff.  This is not the case for Jordan.

Food is becoming an issue with Jordan.  At first I was amazed at how easily he put food in his mouth, unlike Mason.  But Jordan is getting trickier and trickier to feed.  He will eat, but is very particular about what food he will eat and when and how he will eat it.  He will NOT let me feed him anything other than his bottle.  I can't slip food in his mouth when he is distracted like I have always done with Mason.  And if he sees something he wants, the little stinker won't eat anything else until he gets what he wants and will toss what he does have overboard in hope of getting something else.  Even if he has a piece of banana in his hand, he will not eat it if he wants the banana in Enoch's hand.  Sometimes the problem is that I didn't give him the right amount of something.  If he wants more than the few raisins left on his tray, he won't eat any of them until he has more on his tray. Then he'll eat a few and then start tossing what he has for something new and most of the time it's a guessing game as to what that something new might be.  I get out multiple choices and rotate through asking what he wants for his next bite.  He'll act like he is completely done with one item, but after he gets three bites of something else, he'll be ready for it again.  We're getting better at communication with some signs, but meal times have been drawn out and frustrating because I know how important it is to get a child with Russell Silver Syndrome to eat enough and when I'm this tired, it's hard to be patient.  Finally, after reminding myself over and over that it will be okay and the more we get to know Jordan, the better we'll be able to understand what he wants, I've been able to relax some about his eating.  I mean, really, look at the picture above.  Two RSS kids sitting next to each other, actually putting food in their mouths... if you know anything about RSS, that is pretty amazing.  Mason has come such a long way, and he was much harder to feed than Jordan is now.  I need to remember that!

Upon inspecting our house when we got home, look what we found above our front door... a Swallow's Nest.  Does anyone remember the name of Jordan's most recent foster care organization?  That's right, the Swallow's Nest!!  Seriously!?  The swallows marked his new home.

The Swallows weren't the only ones making themselves at home on our porch.  Check out this impressive spiderweb that went up in our absence.  I think Charlotte herself might have spun it.

Our friends made an awesome welcome home poster, actually they made two.  (and my sweet sister's family heart attacked our garage as well)  Unfortunately, when the garage door opened, it tore them up.  I didn't get around to trying to take a picture until the next day.  Sadly, this was all that was left when I finally got a picture of our fun welcoming.  We were also greeted by groceries purchased by both our home teacher and my parents.  And my dear sister ran to the store for motion sickness medicine and more fruit that night.  It was so nice to not have to worry about running to the store early the next morning! 

Sadly, I've taken very few photos of Jordan's first few days at home.  We've had a lot of fun but have also been completely exhausted.  The first time Jordan went outside and played on the grass and his first time playing on the swing set, I was too tired to run upstairs for the camera.  I've missed a lot of pictures of him playing with and getting to know his siblings.  But my tired self is okay with that.  We have a lifetime to take more pictures, and for now, the fun memories will do.  In China, with the exception of a few nights, Jordan went to sleep fairly easily on his own.  At home, he has really been fighting it and sometimes waking up crying multiple times a night.  I think a combination of jet lag and teething are to blame.  Jet lag is hard no matter what, but it is so much harder to deal with when you are up in the night with a little one.  We're slowly working on getting this kid on a schedule suitable for this timezone and have made progress  He slept 10pm to 10am last night!  I thought I was making progress on getting past the jet lag yesterday so I let myself take a fantastic nap, but it totally backfired when I couldn't go to sleep until 5am... almost bedtime in China.  So I only got a couple hours of sleep before I had to get up to get the kids ready for school.  Ugh.  And on the night that Jordan slept so well!  But I can't complain too much because I at least get to hang out at home and just try to survive the day without sleep.  After only two days at home, Ryan had to go back to work as a teacher.  I've never tried to teach Jr. High School students while jet lagged, but I don't think it would go well if I attempted it.  I really feel for Ryan.

After days of putting off unpacking, in favor of trying to keep the house somewhat clean, the family fed, and playing with Jordan, I purposely left my suitcase open on my bed so I would have to unpack it before going to bed.  Luckily, Jordan climbed in and started to "help" me unpack it because otherwise I probably would have just put it back on the floor for another day, but once he got me started, I finally unpacked that suitcase.  I need to have him help me with those last two bags.  I couldn't ask for a cuter helper!

Jordan found Mason's favorite hiding spot!  He is having such a great time exploring his new home.  We all adore Jordan immensely... okay, maybe not Mason yet, but Mason was thrilled to know that he will never have to sleep in the port-a-crib again and appreciates Jordan for taking his spot as the baby of the family, but other than that, he hasn't paid much attention to Jordan.  The rest of us can't get enough of him.  Jordan is happy and chill pretty much all the time, with the exception of when it's time to sleep or when we can't read his mind at mealtime.  He is quickly settling into our family and now lets Ryan and I both share the "chosen one" status.  Jordan's smiles are contagious and he is generous with his giggles, kisses and affection.  I can't even begin to express how much fun he is and how much we love him.  Even though this transition has been exhausting, we are so very, very happy to have Jordan home!