Friday, March 22, 2013

One Month Home

Or almost 7 weeks, but whose counting? In all honesty, I have been working on this post for two weeks straight now. Things are a bit busy...

How is it going?  Hmm, that is a loaded question.  We are adjusting for the most part.  It has been a rather rocky start, but we are seeing glimmers of hope and progress, so we'll take it.  Honestly, this adoption has probably been the hardest thing I have ever done.

When we were going through the process, we kept hearing that adoption is 'hard'.  Okay.  How hard can it be?  I'll tell you:  H.A.R.D. - and we haven't even had a particularly difficult child.

I started to get inklings that I was going to struggle while B.J. was still in China.  I enjoyed my routines and my four kiddos.  We have a general rhythm to life and I enjoy when I feel like I've 'hit my stride' so to speak.  I like when I feel like I have a handle on things and can manage just fine.  And I had that most of the time B.J. was in China.  It felt great!  But at the same time, I started to worry just a bit about how my mother heart would respond to a virtual stranger coming in and messing with my neat life. Of course, when things are going well, I tend to start to get a bit confident and self-reliant. Not my best place and it usually isn't long until I crash and am reminded that what I do is not from my own abilities and skills. I am nothing apart from Christ and his power in me.

Yes, I have loved Liliana since we first got her file and I have fought like crazy to bring her home.  Yet once she came home, I struggled.  A lot.  I was resentful and annoyed that this little girl had come and 'messed up' my nice, pretty life.   Life was crazy and hard and it seemed like everything fell apart once she came home. I yearned for my nice, simple life with my four kids. I wanted to go back and change something. Anything. I felt like I was rolling in a crashing wave and was trying to find my footing and I couldn't.

Yup, that was my honest experience.  It seems awful to even admit it, but that is what happened.  My sin came oozing out and the more squeezed I felt the more my sin showed.  I knew what I needed to do.  I knew what God wanted me to do but I was fighting it.  I didn't want to obey.  Kind of like a two year old.

It was during the second week, I was complaining to God and questioning for the upteenth time about what on earth he was thinking to give me a baby and a new adopted kiddo at the same time and He decided to answer.  Clear as day.  Unmistakable.  He reminded me that I had asked him to use me.  To work through me.  To use me to make a difference for the kingdom.  Ouch.  All of my talk about wanting to be used by God and here I was fighting him when he took me up on my offer.  The truth stung, but it was true.  I had invited God to use me and he had chosen this way to do it.  It was time to stop fighting God and wishing for a do-over and to allow Him to work through me to bless and love Liliana.

Once I stopped fighting God and protesting this plan of his, I started to notice something.  My interactions with Liliana weren't all forced.  I wasn't having to just go through the motions.  I started to notice that I found certain things she did funny (like making silly faces in the mirror and changing them each time she slid in front of the mirror - my description doesn't do it justice).  I noticed how much she loves when I kiss her boo-boos - real or imaginary.  I watched how gentle she is with Myla.  She loves to play hand games and sing songs.  She loves to eat.  She loves to be held and loved and she eats it up. She loves having cream rubbed on her arms and then rubbing some cream on my arm.

There are still days where I am irritated by things, but for the most part, we are well on our way to bonding.  It is a process and it takes a lot of time, but we'll get there.

Here are a few things that are purely Liliana or areas we have seen lots of change in 6 short weeks:

When Liliana first came home, she could barely walk around our house.  Now she wanders everywhere and rarely falls.  Her legs don't even shake when she stands now.
Liliana can walk across the back yard and only fall a couple of times now.  We are working on being willing to put hands down to grass to stand back up, but when she first came home, she couldn't stand for even one step.
Liliana has learned how to feed herself most foods - as long as they are cut to a reasonable size.  She has also learned to keep her food on the table rather than throwing it on the floor.
Liliana has started to get picky with food.  This is great :)  She knows that food is plentiful and she won't go hungry.
Liliana has learned to keep her blankets and such in the crib during nap time rather than throw them in protest.
Liliana has learned to say "no no" and shake her finger and head when she doesn't like something instead of screaming about anything she didn't want
Liliana now signs when she is hungry and says "Eee" for eat.
Liliana is learning to cry when she is hurt (she didn't cry at all for genuine injuries when she first came home)
She has the cutest "cheese" face for pictures now
She has gained almost four pounds since coming home.  She has also outgrown her 18 month tops....
She is starting to show her sense of humor
She is sleeping upstairs with the girls and now sleeps till the delightfully late hour of 6:30 in the morning. That was a long five weeks coming
She and Simeon are great buddies
She now can say (without prompting most of the time) up, down, please, eat, side for outside, yay, no no, pray, keem for cream, apple, car, yum, again, and more
She is starting to look to us for help
She is much more willing to accept hugs from and give hugs to her siblings
She is starting to hang with us a bit in large groups rather than running up to every is a work in progress on this one...

Below are some pictures from most recent to just after she came home. I can see such a difference and it is really rewarding and encouraging :)

Friday, March 1, 2013


Two silly toddlers and a busy ball popper....

CHOP Visit

Today, we spent most of the day at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.  We were there for our first adoption clinic appointment. CHOP offers this as part of their services for adoptive families and it is worth every penny.  We were scheduled to meet with Dr. Hachen (pediatrician) and Amy an OT and we did.

Dr. Hachen noted several things that we had noticed and some that we hadn't.  Amy was able to do a very thorough developmental assessment on Liliana.  She noticed the same things that B.J. and I had been noticing, specifically, that while Liliana is at age level with some of her skills, in other areas she is very delayed.  Amy used a screening tool where you are supposed to stop once there are three things the child can't do, but if you went on, sometimes Liliana could do things that were four and five steps above where she couldn't do the task.  Amy said it was not uncommon for children from institutions to have things like that.  Most experts say that for every two to three months in an institution, children lose one month of growth and development.  Based on that, in some areas, Liliana is where we would expect her to be, but in others, she is very delayed.

Charming Dr. V.
During Dr. Hachen's exam, we mentioned some heart things we had been noticing.  She listened to Liliana and she heard a clear murmur.  She wanted to get it checked, so she had cardiology squeeze us into their schedule right away.  So after bloodwork (she was so brave while they drew vial after vial), we saw Dr. Vogel.  He heard the same thing and also noticed her very fast heartbeat.  He wanted to have an echo done. So we were taken down the hall and they did an echo.  Liliana was starting to get tired of all of the testing, but she held on with the encouragement of food and videos on the iPad.  They found a one inch hole in her heart which they will need to repair.  If they can, they'll do a patch but if there isn't enough tissue, it will have to be open heart surgery.  Funny thing is, at some point in the adoption process, I remember feeling like Liliana had a heart condition, so this was surprisingly not surprising.

Playing in radiology
After we were done with cardiology, we had x-rays done and then we were done for today.  They want to do some MRI tests, ultrasounds, and visits with audiology, and urology and depending on results, neurology and a few others that I don't remember right now.

Liliana was a trooper for the day.  She did great and I am so grateful to have the clinic helping us navigate all of this.  I know God has something great in store for Liliana and I can't wait to see what He has in store.