Sunday, September 30, 2012

Happy 4th Birthday Ethan!!

Where does the time go!!  Today my sweet little Ethan affectionately known as our Ebear turned 4!!  He is the sweetest, funniest little 4 year old I know!  We praise God for this sweet life and are so thankful to be his parents.  We pray that God would make Himself known to Ethan at a young age and that Ethan would live for Christ.  We love you Ebear!! Happy Birthday!!

Friday, September 28, 2012

She can hear!!

I cannot even begin to explain what an exciting day this has been for our family.  Linnea can hear!!

We left this morning around 10 am to head to CHOA at Scottish Rite to get her hearing aids.  Our appt. was at 11 and we didn't finish up until 1:30 so it was quite a long morning - but so worth it!! I cannot brag enough on Pediatrics ENT of Atlanta and their audiology team.  We LOVE Dr. Matesvac and her intern Brittany.  They were so great with Linnea and spent soo much time with her.  They were so detailed and took such time to explain each and every little aspect of her hearing loss and what life with hearing aids looks like.   The appointment started out with a behavioral hearing analysis to see if how she performed today while she was not sedated was comparable to how she did with the ABR (auditory brain response) while she was sedated.  In comparison the two tests gave pretty much the same results.  The purpose of this was to make sure that her hearing aids had been programmed properly.  They had to tweak the programming on the hearing aids just a little bit. Just to give you some idea of what Linnea was hearing like - think of it like this - you and I are having a normal conversation talking at a normal decibel level - if you were to have a conversation with Linnea at your normal decibel level it sounds like a whisper - maybe even a little softer than that.  So everything she has heard thus far from us was like we were whispering to her.  This totally explains why she would hold her little music player up to her hears to hear it.  Of course we learned about proper care and how to turn the hearing aids on and off and change the batteries and all that other jazz.  Then came the big moment - put them in her ears and turn them on.  I am so super glad that DP and I were both able to be at this appointment.  I really can't put the moment into words - it was such a sweet emotional time for us.  It was like she was hearing our natural voices speak her name for the very first time.  She had such a look of glee - like a baby when they see bubbles for the first time or a kids first trip to Disney.  As I sit here and ponder back on the moment I really can't put it into a lot of words.

Linnea has been such a trooper and she did soo super great!!  She has kept her aids in all afternoon.  It has been such a joy to watch her around the house and to see her interact with the boys - it has been a really different scene.  She has been mimicking some of them trying to say what they are saying - of course it doesn't sound exactly right - but she is trying.  I think my favorite thing has been seeing her play with a music toy that she loved when we first came home - she would hold that pink player up to her ear so she could hear it and now she is just holding it out in front of her.  My heart is so full of joy and thankfulness.

I am overwhelmed when I think of all that the Lord has done for us and for her.  Praise be to Him.  He does more than we can ask or imagine....

BEFORE - we were on our way!!

AFTER - she says look at my ears - I can hear!!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

One Happy Girl


We were so excited to get these pictures this morning.  So thankful for Ann at RedThread who helped us to make this day super special for Abbie!!  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Happy Birthday Abigail Joy!!

We are one of the fortunate few adoptive families who knows the actual birthdate of their daughter.  Abbie was left with a note that had her DOB on it.  So we know for sure she was born on September 25, 2004.  In honor of our sweet girls birthday we had a little family celebration.  I made some orange cupcakes because she really seems to like the color orange with cream cheese icing and pink and purple birthday letters.  We lit 8 candles and sang "Happy Birthday"!!  While we were celebrating here we know she was celebrating there as we made sure she got a cake and had a little birthday party.  We are awaiting pictures and as soon as we get them I will try to get them up here on the blog quickly!! We are so thankful for this precious child and how God has preserved her life.  I know HE has great plans for her and we are just so thankful to be a part of her story.

We are also very fortunate to have a family going to Maoming next week.  You know what that means??!!  We got to send another package and get more pictures!!  I am so thankful for the willingness of other families to bring packages - it means so much to the family who is sitting on the waiting end.   We decided to go to Build A Bear and "build" Abbie a teddy bear!  We were even able to record a sound bite with all of our voices.  So when she squeezes the bears hand she hears "Hi Abbie its mommy and Linnea" "I'm Nathan," "I'm Luke," "I'm Ethan," "and this is Daddy."  "We love you and can't wait to get you!!"  We all stuck a little heart in the bear, prayed for Abbie and sewed it up!!  Its now on its way to Washington and then off to China!!

boys, boys, boys....

The cooler temps here in the south have brought many opportunities to enjoy the outside again at least without being around a pool ;-).  The boys have had so much fun playing outside, riding bikes, building forts, catching bugs and toads (my favorite!).  I am so thankful for the big yard we have to play in and being in a cul de sac that doesn't generate much traffic.  This year the boys have met a few of the neighborhood kids and they anxiously await to hear the sound of the school bus because they  know that means Malik, Toby and Peter will be arriving shortly.  I am so thankful that these neighborhood boys enjoy coming down here to play.  This has given me so many opportunities to be His light.  I have had several great conversations with our boys about the gospel and our need for a Savior and how we can be a light to others. I was so touched when Nathan recently prayed for these boys to come to know Christ if they don't already.  I am slowly but surely learning about each boy and their circumstance.  Please pray for us that we would be a light in their lives and that they indeed would come to know Christ in a personal way.

sweet Linnea bug...a long awaited update!

I cannot believe it has been six months since we brought this sweet girl home!!    She has changed soo much!!  Since we have been home she has gained about 4 lbs. and gotten a wee bit taller.  She eats just about anything we put in front of her.  She is particularly fond of soft drinks and sweet things and she LOVES all things girlie!! She can identify mommy, daddy, Nathan, Luke, Ethan and even Abbie.   She can show you her eyes, nose, ears, mouth, thumb, fingers, arm, feet and hair.  She is still going to speech twice a week.  Her vocabulary knowledge is increasing and her sign language has come such a long way!!

she LOVES shoes!! of all kinds!!!

 Linnea had her adenoids out a few weeks ago and while she was under general anesthesia she had an ABR which is an Auditory Brain Response Test.

before surgery and ABR
This is the most accurate hearing test a person can undergo.  She had been given a hearing test in China and again when we came home - both of these hearing tests showed that she had some mild hearing loss particularly in the right ear.  The ABR was able to tell us everything we needed to know about her hearing loss.  She does indeed have a mild to moderate hearing loss in both ears and is need of some hearing aids.  We are scheduled this Friday to go and pick up her hearing aids.  So next time you see this cute munchkin she will be sporting glitter ear molds and translucent purple hearing aids.  My has technology come along way!! And I must mention here how THANKFUL I am for good insurance!! We were told that insurance normally doesn't cover hearing aids.  Again I am so thankful for CFA insurance.  The good news is that her hearing loss is not related to nerve damage but to the damage to her ears from having perforations in both of her ear drums.  What we don't know is will her hearing loss get better.  It is possible that she will only need hearing aids while she is young - but it is also a possibility it could get worse.  She may also have to have her eardrums repaired at a later age one at time.  Only time will really tell.  Whatever the outcome we are so thankful to have some answers to some of her communication problems.  She does have some motor planning issues as well - basically this means that she knows what she wants to communicate but can't get her brain and her mouth to work together.  I can say that I have learned so much about language and communication and hearing in the last few months!!

Because Linnea has a documented hearing loss which has delayed her communication severely she could be eligible for preschool special education services in our county.  Last week we had her IEP (individualized education plan) meeting.  I am so thankful to my friends Laura and Christa and Linnea's SLPs (speech therapists) for helping me to navigate my way through that meeting with goals and expectations.  I am also thankful that the Lord had me go into Education that background has been more useful than I could have ever imagined.  It was at this meeting that her eligibility for services was decided upon.  So it turns out she is eligible for the preschool services five days at week from 8-11 at Crabapple Lane Elementary - where she will basically get speech everyday for free.  While I am so thankful for this -Linnea needs this-  it was has been a hard pill to swallow for this mama!!  Last Sunday night my stomach was in knots over this - I was on worry overtime!  Can we say HUGE lack of faith on my part oh yes I can and I can tell you how God was so faithful!!  And I have to tell you how He worked all the details I was fretting about - He is to be praised.  So Crabapple is less than 5 minutes from the boys school this is really important to know.  Here is how I worried - I should confess these were all selfish but was is most notable is how God worked in these circumstances and ever so patiently with me.

  • how in the world am I going to send my baby to school four days a week - she has only been home 6 months and I don't even send Ethan to school!! Plus Luke is home on Mondays with Ethan b/c his kindergarten program is only 4 days a week. And if I don't send her 4 days she won't get all the speech she needs. I had decided early on I didn't want to miss Bible Study on Tuesdays so she was just going to go 4 days - but clearly I am having trouble with that too - then we went to the park on Monday - and I really felt like there was no way I could send her four days.  Give thanks to the Lord for HE is good!!  The nice thing about all of this is I am the one who decides when and how often she will get these services.  So while she will not get the designated 2 hours of speech that they would offer I am only sending her 3 days a week - Wed., Thurs., and Fri.  After coming to this conclusion and feeling best about it - I get a call out of the blue from GA Pines.  And no this isn't the library system.  This is an early intervention program for the hearing impaired that is part of the education system - they typically on service children until their 3rd birthday much like Babies Can't Wait.  The lady I spoke on the phone with wasn't sure how she got Linnea's information and she realized that she was quickly approaching her 3rd birthday - but her supervisor wanted to offer her services anyway - at least for the next six months.  They will come to our home 2x a month and give her therapy for FREE!!  I LOVE how the Lord provides and gave me confirmation that I was making the right decisions.  I know GA Pines doesn't know how in the world they got Linnea's information but HE knows!!  Can I just say Praise Him!!!
seriously how cute are they - I love my Mondays with these three!!
  • how will she transition - I can't just drop her off and leave her - but I can't stay either - I have two other kids that have to be at school at 8:30 and the school has a policy that siblings can't come in the classroom what would I do with Ethan? (I actually called her teacher to find out if my social worker could call and get me permission to have Ethan with me because I can't really just drop her off I have to transition with her) This has probably been my biggest challenge because I know she can't be treated like every other child in her class - she's not - she has had soo much transition and she has only been home for six months and attachment is going well so I don't want to disrupt that!!  Give thanks to the Lord for HE is good!!  It occurred to me at some point in the middle of Sunday night that my friend Elizabeth who has children at Crossroads lives very close to the school (she is also in the process of adoption) I wandered if I might could drop off the boys at her house on my way to Crabapple and then she could take the big boys to school and I would be able to at least stay with Linnea and not have to run off and leave her. So thankful that the Lord brought to mind this sweet friend and that she said YES!!  She didn't even have to think about it.  So thankful for you Elizabeth!!!  Then yesterday afternoon the county school nurse for the special ed. program called me.  You won't believe one of the first things she asked me - "what province is Linnea from?"  now I thought that was kind of odd because thats not just the first thing people usually ask me - but she's an adopted mama - and from China no less!!  God is soo good to me!!!  I was able to express my concern to her over the transition, what was I to do with Ethan and what happens when Linnea does cry longer than 5 or 10 minutes and how I want to be called and I want to be the one who comforts her and she UNDERSTOOD!!!   She has been in my shoes!!  She totally got what I was saying - especially concerning the attachment and bonding part!!  She was going to go over to the school and talk with Linnea's teachers.  And if that wasn't enough the Lord provided more - last night when I was at a meeting at school - I found out a fellow parent of a CCS student works as a director for Childrens services in Fayette County.  I got to talk with her about Linnea's teachers and she was able to give me great insight on the program and her specific teachers.  God is infinitely good to me!!  Praise be to Him!!
  • she will get out at 11 and the boys don't get out til 12:30 what I am going to do for an hour and a half - I don't want to go home for just 30 minutes.  God provided carpool!!  I love that He knows the value of time in our lives.  I will only have to stay one day.  There maybe some weeks where I have to stay two days but for the most just one!!  HE is the great provider.  

Linnea is bonding so well and I am so thankful that she knows, loves and trusts me as her mama!!  I often times look at her and get so overwhelmed.  I often think of her birth mother and really can't begin to imagine the void in her heart or how she must feel or what she must think some days if  not everyday.  I pray that the Lord will make himself known to her.  Linnea has been such a blessing to me, well to all of us really.  The Lord has used her to stretch me, grow me, and make me more dependent upon Him.  And as you can see I have sadly lacked faith at times and He has shown Himself to me over and over again.  Just like we pursued Linnea and now we are pursuing Abbie in adoption - HE pursues me even when I am not trusting Him and I am thinking I have it all under control - or I want to have it all in my control!!  But that's another post for another time.  I am just thankful for His love and patience with me.

free entertainment...

My mom recently came for a visit and we had to pick her up at the airport.  I have to say if you haven't gone to the cell phone lot at Hartsfield Jackson Intl. Airport - you should - it was highly entertaining. Just ask Ethan!!  The best part about this lot is its FREE!!!

our first package to Abbie

Recently part of the staff that works for Lifeline in China came to the states for a visit - fortunate for us this sweet lady was willing to take back a package for us to our sweet Abbie.  This was really perfect timing as we knew Abbie's birthday was approaching and we really wanted to be able to get something to her!! Being mindful that this package had to go in a suitcase and we were likely not the only family to send something back I tried to do things we could roll up or squeeze into ziploc baggies.  I embroidered her a birthday shirt and made a hairbow to go with it.  Thank you to my sweet friend Elizabeth for hooking me up with a white shirt!!

To our sweet surprise a week or so later we received an email from our sweet friend Miko in China ..

she is looking at the photo book of our family before she pulls anything out of her box!! 

sharing her candies with her friends!!

I love how they left the bow on her shirt!!  

I can't even begin to explain how priceless and precious the pictures are to our family.  With Abbie's birthday being this week (yes I promise that will get a post all by itself - Lord willing before my head hits the pillow tonight)  I have been very emotional - and my heart has been aching.  I went to bed last night with this deep longing just to be holding her and snuggling with her in our bed here at home.  I could physically feel this ache in my heart.  Thankful to rest in God's sovereignty and know that He is in control of all things and he can take way better care of Abbie than I can.

I recently read an article/blogpost on adoption and this quote really stuck out ..

"You realize God can put a vicious fight in your for a kid without your blood coursing through her veins.  Of course you don't know this kid yet but you love her in your heart, in your bones.  You'll fight like hell to get to her.  You can't  think of anything else.  You are obsessed.  You dream about her like you did when you were pregnant.  You realize that when God said "He sets the lonely in families' he meant it, and he doesn't just transform the "lonely" but also the "families".  He changes us for one another.  God can create a family across countries, beyond genetics, through impossible circumstances, and past reason."

These statements are so true.  God does indeed change us and thankfully it draws us closer to Him.  I can't even imagine going through this without Him.  To the praise of His glory....

too long...

So it has been brought to my attention .....Pops.....Aunt Gail.... ;-)  that I haven't updated my blog in awhile!!  Hasn't this always been my problem keeping up with the blog - even before I had 4 kids!!  Thank you faithful readers for still following along even in my lack of updates.  So (my favorite word according to DP) hang tight - here come the updates!!