He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him. Psalm 126:6

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Lucky 13

I have given myself a blogger award - the award for worst blogger of the year since I haven't actually blogged since last December!  I'm so sorry to have been so inconsistent and promise to try and do better.

First an update on Anna.  She has flourished since her surgery in November.  She continues to grow and now weighs about twice what she did when she arrived in the US last April.  She actually looks like five year old now.  She graduated from kindergarten a couple of weeks ago and received an award for "most cheerful!"  It is so true.  She is just the happiest little thing all the time. 

 
 
So now on to our news.  We are adopting again!  Two beautiful girls from the same country as Anna.  One first new daughter is four.  We will call her "S" until we can announce her name (after court).  Our second daughter is eight.  She will be "G" for now. 
 
Here is the beautiful "S".
 
 
 
And the stunning "G."

 
 
We are beyond excited that our family of 11 will soon be a family of 13.  What the world calls unlucky God deems blessed!
 
We have completed our paperwork except for our government approval and expect that any day.  Then one of us will travel on our first trip to meet the girls.  We can't wait!
 
I promise to do a better job of keeping everyone up to date on our progress.  We would sure appreciate your prayers as we wait to get our girls.

 
 



Sunday, December 29, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, everyone!  Anna enjoyed her first Christmas here with us and we were so happy to have her here.  First, let me show you the results of her head reduction surgery in November.  They are so amazing!  She has done well and has not had any complications. 



She starts school next week!  She will only be going for two days a week, two hours a day to start, but we are really excited. 

Anna's progress since coming home makes my heart ache even more for Giselle.  You may remember that she is another little girl, close in age to Anna, who is available for adoption from Eastern Europe.  I am her Guardian Angel.  Like Anna, she has a scary list of diagnoses.  Like Anna, she needs someone to see her for what she is:  a very special gift from God who has so much to offer the world!  She just needs a chance to get out of her crib.  Would you please share her picture and information any way you can?  Social media, word of mouth, church?  You could change her life!  I just know her mommy and daddy are out there and I believe that this is the year they will find her!

  Sweet Giselle

She has over $5,000 in grant money to help with her adoption!  Oh my goodness, I sure wish I could be the one to go get this beautiful child and watch God change her life.  Please pray for God to move mountains and bring her home!

I have one more prayer request.  Do you remember "Emmitt" who I posted on here several times?  He is home but is having some very serious medical and emotional problems.  Please pray for him and for his family.  You can read their blog here.



Saturday, November 9, 2013

Surgery was Successful!

Thank you so much for all the prayers for Anna.  Surgery went very well and she is resting comfortably in the PICU.

The transformation in her head size is nothing short of miraculous. Basically, the doctors took off the majority of her skull, cut it, and reshaped it over her head.  Prior to surgery, her head circumference was 57 cm.  I don't know exactly what it will be once the swelling decreases, but it is obviously much smaller.  It should be so much easier for her to lift it and hold it up once she has healed.

She is not as swollen as we all expected, although she will probably continue to swell.  She can open her right eye, but seems to want to sleep, which is exactly what she needs.

Hopefully tomorrow she will be moved out of the PICU.  If all continues to go well, we hope to have her home by the end of the week. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Anna's Upcoming Surgery

My last post addressed how well Anna is doing in so many ways.  Now I get to share even more praises!

Her recent lung CT looked good.  She is no longer on oxygen at all.



She now weighs 40 pounds, up for 22 pounds when we brought her home in April

She had a swallow study done and it showed that she swallows completely normally:  no aspiration!  This is such an answer to prayer.  This means we can began working with her on eating in earnest and that God led us to the right decision not to separate her stomach and esophagus (yes, the doctors wanted to do this to prevent reflux).  She is eating very well in speech therapy.  It will be a long road for her to make oral foods a major part of her diet, but we have loads of time!

Her neurosurgeon and plastic surgeon have determined that we should go forward with reducing the size of Anna's head.  This is called a cranial vault reconstruction.  They will remove a large portion of her skull and reshape her head.  It is major surgery, but it could make such a difference for her!  She might very well learn to sit up on her own and one day stand if she did not have to hold up her heavy head.  The surgery is this Friday, November 8, and we would so appreciate your prayers.  I promise to do a better job keeping the blog up to date!

Life with Anna is a million times more simple than I thought it would be.  Her health has improved so much!  I think more people would be willing to adopt children with special needs if they could experience our day to day with her.  Our church has even started a special needs class so that she has a place to go during worship.  What a blessing!

Some other families who adopted children from Anna's orphanage are struggling right now.  I ask for your prayers for them and their precious children.

I am also reminding everyone that sweet Giselle is still available and has a large grant to help with her adoption expenses.  I would sure love for her to have the same happy ending as Anna!



http://reecesrainbow.org/12884/giselle901


Sunday, August 18, 2013

You Won't Believe Your Eyes

So I am officially the worst blogger of all time.  It has been so long since I posted!  I will simply claim busyness and my family definitely keeps me busy.

So onto Anna.  She is doing so well I don't even know where to start!  First of all she is now 36 pounds!  When she arrived in the US on April 5, she weighed 22 pounds.  That seems to me like an almost impossible gain, but it's true.  She looks much more like the almost five year old she is. 

You can easily see her gain here next to her two year old brother.  The first picture is when they met in May.  The second was taken a few weeks ago:





Her lungs are doing terrific.  She has not had any supplemental oxygen in over a month.  This too is miraculous.  Her lungs were very damaged by years of eating lying down. 

She now has a low profile g-tube which is such a blessing.  Her first one hung out a good ways and was easy to catch.  She tolerates her feeds mostly.  She has vomiting episodes probably three times a week.  Not really sure why, but it seems to be related to her having a lot of congestion.  I know from my other children that adjusting to an all new environment tends to cause allergies for a while.




She is also eating some by mouth!  Just a little, but it encourages us that one day she might be able to get some of her nutrition that way.

She is much stronger.  She can hold her head up to a certain extent.  Her core strength has really improved.  She does very well in her therapy sessions.





She is still a little delight, happy and smiling almost all the time.  We have gotten into a routine and caring for her seems almost easy now.  It is like having a big baby (I have to lift weights on a regular basis to stay strong enough to lift her rapidly increasing weight!) that has some medical needs.

Anna has not had to return to the hospital for any stays and her doctors appointments have become few and far between.  Her GI doc confided the other day that he thought for sure she would have been readmitted by now and is stunned by her good health.  God is so good and we are beyond grateful for his mercy.


Please feel free to ask any questions you might have about Anna or adopting a special needs child. I will do my best to answer!  Thank you for your continued prayers and continuing to follow our journey.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Anna at Home

Sorry that it has been so long since I have written.  Anna came home two weeks ago today and it has been a little crazy!

Overall, she is doing very well.  She has her own recliner in our family room, so she is always surrounded by a bunch of people.  Everyone stops and talks to her as they go in and out.  She tracks us very well with her eyes, which is a good sign.  She sleeps well most of the night.




It has been interesting learning to take care of a medically fragile child.  It was nice when trained nurses did all the work of administering medicines, setting up feedings and doing breathing treatments.  To someone without any medical training, it is a little daunting.  On top of that, Scott had to go out of town for several days just after she got home, so I had to be very responsible, and I don't always like that :) 

It has now become fairly simple to do everything, but we have had one problem and it is serious.  Anna has a g-j tube.  This tube goes directly into her stomach.  She receives her medicine through the g-tube.  The j part of the tube goes into her intestine and she is fed her formula through that.  This is to help prevent reflux and aspiration.  The j-tube is very tiny.  It clogged a week after she came home and then shifted back into her stomach so we had to get it replaced.  The new one shifted two days later, was repositioned and then shifted again.  This is a serious problem because every time it shifted, she would wake up in the morning vomiting.  Also, to get it replaced or repositioned, we have to drive back to the hospital in Atlanta, which is almost two hours away and it is has to be replaced by using an x-ray machine and she is getting way too much radiation.  Yesterday, they could not get the j-tube back into her intestine, so she is currently being fed through her g-tube.  So far so good, but this may not be a permanent solution.  We have an appointment with her GI doc tomorrow, and would appreciate prayers as we figure out what is best.

 
So bored waiting to have her j-tube replaced again, she fell asleep

I was disappointed about having to take her back to Atlanta yesterday as well because she was supposed to be evaluated for therapy.  She has not had anything but what Scott and I can do since she left CHOA and I don't want her to lose all the progress she was making!  Hopefully we can get it rescheduled soon.

She is just the happiest little thing and is all smiles and coos unless she is in pain or extremely tired.  She puts me to shame.  She seems to be enjoying her new family and absolutely loves her new crib.  She smiles hugely when we put her in it at night.  She loves her recliner too.  I'm afraid she is getting lazy :)

As for me, this has been a rough two weeks.  Change, even good change, is tough.  We have all had to adjust to a new normal.  My flesh has been rebellious, not always wanting to drive to Atlanta when necessary or get up at 2 am to administer medicines.  God has been exceedingly patient as he has worked at cutting away the dead parts of me and infuse me with his life and love.  I have alternated between stark terror and soaring love.  I am so far out of my comfort zone here that I feel like I have moved to a new zip code.  I have climbed out of the boat and am walking on water.  I wish I could say that I am keeping my eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, but I hate to lie.  I look at the waves a bit too often. 

My coworkers at LaGrange College have been incredible!  I can't remember the last time I made dinner.  They have surrounded us with love and I am forever grateful.

So, in a nutshell, I'd say Anna has fit right in.  Everyone adores her and she is basking in the attention. She has gained 7 pounds since we arrived from Bulgaria.  God told me clearly yesterday that he knows exactly what will happen with her feedings, and that it is ok that I have no clue.  I am trying to trust in that. 


 
Celebrating her first Father's Day with a father
 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Miracles

Anna's g-j tube is in.  No more uncomfortable tube down the back of her throat!  If all goes well, she should be able to come home on Monday.  I am so excited!  I can't believe that day might finally be here.  She is absolutely going to rock our world around here.  I can't wait to watch her win over her siblings and grandparents the way she has won over everyone at the hospital.    The therapists have told us they fight to be on her schedule for the day.



 
While she was under for the surgery, they performed a hearing test.  According to the test, she is moderately to profoundly deaf in both ears.  This is quite simply not true.  Anna responds to our voices.  She knows mine and her daddy's.  She loves music!   If I sit my iPhone next to her and turn on a song, her eyes immediately widen and she calms.  She is also the favorite of her music group at the hospital because of her awesome dancing.  We are getting her hearing aids, but I know she is hearing more than the tests show.  This is not the first example of how Anna defies all evidence she presents medically.

If you were to look at her brain scan (and actually knew what you were looking for, LOL), you would think she was basically a vegetable.  Because of her hydrocephalus, her brain did not really develop.  But of course, you've all seen the pictures and video that show that Anna is vibrantly alive and full of personality.  She learns at an almost scary rate and changes daily.  In fact Scott was talking to one of her doctors today and even she acknowledged that Anna can't be explained.  She described her progress as phenomenal.  She has wowed them all.  She is a living miracle.

I am so blessed to be a witness to all God is doing in her life.  I am so very ordinary and she is extraordinary.  It is a testimony to God's grace that he has allowed her to be my daughter. 

My experience is not unusual.  Check out this miracle and this one from the same orphanage as Anna.

Interested in being part of a miracle too?  Here are some children who are just waiting to rock your world and show God's glory to the world!

Lucy and Linus

Linus and Lucy

Reign


Y1999

Velia

Vl2

Phoenix

Y (2)