Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Jacob and Grace- An Update

Jacob and Grace came home on December 21st.
Christmas came immediately 
and with that came influenza A for their new Momma.
Influenza A was not nice to me and took it's toll...
I was in urgent care for Christmas eve and 
rallied for 6 hours Christmas morning before returning to bed.
Later that night I was hospitalized for 2 days 
and it took 2 more weeks to fully recover.

Nothing like finally getting a Momma and "poof",
she's outta the picture for awhile...

 But Dad and our "little village"
stepped in and
helped our two newbies
where ever
and when ever they could!

Mom recovered and we were once again back on track!

Grace(born with spina bifida), was immediately
on the fast track to cathing herself.
There was no other option.
Her sister Ava helped out, thank you Ava!
I was too sick to be of any use...

Jake was so happy 
he never looked back...
I think this is one of the MANY positives about hosting.
(We hosted in in December 2015 for 3 weeks through CCAI)

He knew us.
He knew our life here in the USA.
Nothing was a surprise to him.
His adjustment has been seamless!

Our only issue is we had so many Mandarin speakers 
he did not 
"need to learn English"...

While in China we reached out to
Dr Dobbs in St Louis
for Grace's club foot.
They responded immediately and 
within 2 weeks of Grace being home,
she went to St Louis with Daddy
to begin the repair!

This is a first for us.
We have never adopted a child with severe club foot before
but we knew many families that did,
so we followed their lead!

 Grace was thrilled to go with her new Daddy to St Louis 
and begin the repair!

 Between cast #1 and cast #2
we moved to Colorado!

Jake is helping Grace pop
the bubble wrap!

I fun pastime for ALL
the kids when a family moves!

Jake has been to the endocrinologist 
and we are waiting for the test results.
Once we have them we will devise a plan.

He is going to be 10 yrs old in 3 weeks 
and he is the size of a 6 year old.
On the growth charts, he is in the .25%(that's point two five percent)
 in both height.
In weight he is under the 1% but he has gained 6 lbs since he has been home!
It's not just his height that is of concern, he is physically behind in every way.
However, he is very coordinated
and can already ride a bike and roller blade!

They do suspect something is going on
but we need to do all the test and detective work to figure it out.
Praying for somewhat conclusive results 
so we know what direction to go in to help him.

Grace had the okay to walk as best she can on her cast.
Walking wasn't easy but it worked.
Unfortunately, we learned that Grace has no feeling in her foot 
so when we notice blood spots across the floor 
and a very happy pain free daughter, 
we realized that walking wasn't going to work...

Here is her sweet little left foot minus a baby toenail...
is all I have to say...

After being in Colorado less than a week
Daddy and Grace traveled for cast number 2!

The first cast was red and the second was purple!
Colors are very important!

St. Louis is a short flight from Denver(and from Mpls)
but they need to get up at 3:30am to make the 6:00am flight.

Grace wasn't so sure about this part...

Why did we choose to have her club foot fixed by Dr Dobbs?
Especially when we have great Drs in Minnesota and Colorado!

Because Grace is 8.5 years old and 
many of the doctors in the USA 
feel that it is too late to correct through stretching and casting.
They want to jump straight into surgery.
Surgery is not always successful 
and in fact often fails and leaves the patient 
with only the option of amputation and prosthetics.

We know many families whose child have prosthesis and it is great!

However, we have learned that amputation and prosthesis is the last resort.

Everything that can be done,
should be done to preserve the limb.

The serial casting and stretching is part of the Ponseti Method 
and was done, taught and perfected
by Dr. Ignacio Ponseti in Iowa City.

Click on the link to find out more about him.
There are a few Drs that trained with him to learn this method.

With our first adoption,
 our Anna's BFF and crib mate, 
adopted at the same time as Anna,
went to Dr Ponseti back in 2007-2008.

God so perfectly orchestrated each and every adoption! 
We learned about the Ponseti Method 
many years before our Grace even came home!

It is very uncommon for an older child in the USA to have club foot.
They would be immediately repaired after birth.
In fact our oldest bio son had a mild form (metatarsal aductus) 
and the doctor used casting and special shoes 
to correct it between 2-4 months old (back in 1983).

But many doctors in the USA don't do this method for the older adoptees.
They think it is too late so they immediately recommend surgery.
This is exactly what the MN docs said to us 
when they saw Grace's file and pictures.

The casting process can be tedious, cumbersome, and it's not a quick fix 
it less invasive and it works! 
It also has a higher success rate than surgery! 

Everyone that works in Dr Dobbs office is so nice and so talented!
Wow! Progress already!

The bruising is from the stretching.

Grace is a talker!
She loved her interpreter!
They chatted away in mandarin and laughed!

Grace is such a trooper and up for anything and everything!
She goes with the flow and has a joyful spirit!

Like I said, Grace loves to talk...
We thought she would catch on to English quite quickly
but that has not been the case.
We can sense her frustration being between the two languages.

She is (kind of) trying to learn english
and speaks in bits and pieces at best.

My hunch is that she is a perfectionist and in time
will just speak English.
She is probably taking it all in right now.

The bump on her foot is her "fake heel".
The one that formed because she couldn't walk on her real heel.
It will take a long time for this to "go away".

 Everyone enjoys her wheelchair with her!

 All of the children have been so helpful!
Grace is so amazingly joyful!
She has a contagious giggle!
What a blessing she is to our family!

Cast #3 was blue and put on February 6th!

This is the removal!

With each cast we could see a marked difference...

Look at it now!

She is very happy with her progress
and is looking forward to getting
pretty shoes!
Not one BUT TWO!

Cast #4 was pink and was put on Feb 17th!

 Yes... she is always happy!

Honestly adopting two kids when we did was not the smartest thing to do...

We were moving states.
Our older sons soccer team was in the final four 
and we were supporting him and going to every game.
Hubby's business was at a cross roads-
their product was about to hit the market 
so he had to travel to CO more than usual.
We had 14 children at home already.
We had to have our van modified to fit everyone.
Our dogs died... (3 dogs in 6 months).

There was a lot on our plate and we were busy.

There wasn't a lull,
a time to ponder an adoption.
The process was a blur

He knows, HE orchestrates, He strengthens,
He does it all and somehow the pieces of the puzzles fall into place!

My mom gave this to me many years ago.
It is such a wonderful reminder!

Did we question if we were doing the right thing adopting, 
while our world was swirling around us...?
yes, we did...

Did we do the right thing?
No question about it!
A resounding 

but your trust in HIM!

 This verse brings me peace instantly!
And because of God,
it all works out
and two children are forever loved and cherished!

After a series of four casts our girl was ready for her tendon surgery.
The achilles tendon needs to be released 
so that her foot can come up into a flex position.

Fixing Graces foot was a priority to us.
It wasn't the best time for us to do it 
BUT for her, 
it was the first time she had the chance to have it repaired. 
We didn't want months to go by and have her further damage her foot
and make her repair more complicated.
We want Grace to have the opportunity to do what our other kids do!
Walk, wear nice shoes, jump on a tramp, ride a bike, maybe even ski?

This is the pattern she chose for her AFO
(brace that she will wear on the lower half of her left leg).
Love it!

Recovering nicely after surgery!

And she's back home enjoying her FAMILY!

Our four... I mean five younger boys!
First haircuts in CO!
Sometimes I forget that we have 5 little guys now!

Grace and Jacob have been home for 10.5 weeks!

It feel good to have the children settling in!

God is so good!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Sarah is 17 Yrs Old!

We really can't believe that Sarah is 17 yrs old
and neither can she!
She came home at 8 yrs 9 months
and now she has been home longer 
than she was away(almost) from us!

We were told that once a child has been home 
for the same amount of time that they were away
(from the family/in an orphanage or foster family)
that they would be fully "integrated"
in the home, the culture, the language, and the family.

I would say, for us and for her
that would be true.

We spent 2 hours at "Jumpstreet" on her birthday!

Sarah is very good at gymnastics!

She is very talented and very driven
but we never took the leap and pushed for her to be on a club team.
Once she got to that level, she always boarded on being "too old".

We may have two new family members!
More on that later!
(They are adorable!)

Sarah is such a blessing to our family!
She was challenging her first year home but really settled in with time!

Now, she is an amazing positive leader 
for the younger children and grandchildren!

Everyone adores her!
She has a wonderful outgoing personality
and she loves to laugh!
I am extremely blessed 
to have her as my "sidekick" throughout the days!

First family photo in front of the new fireplace!
yes we need to add a few things to 
"warm it up a bit"!
I'll get right on that... not!

Love you sweet girl!
Today we celebrate

Jake and quite a few of the other children 
made Sarah pictures for her birthday!
Gel pens and doodling coloring books are the rage here!

Partners in crime!

We are definitely dog fans, as you can tell!

It is such a treat watching our sweet kiddos open gifts and be celebrated!
They spent far too long just surviving...

HaPpY BiRtHdAy Sarah! 
We are finding new favorite restaurants in CO.
Sarah chose Shanghai Garden for her birthday dinner!

Ummm Ava... you're caught red handed
trying to blow out Sarah's candle!

Matt, Caitlin and Elodie joined us for dinner!

Sarah chose a "Bundt Cake" for her birthday!
It was delicious!

Thank you Jesus for our dear daughter!
We have been so blessed by her joining our family!