Monday, September 12, 2011


I got lab results from Emery's blood work and our cardiologist update today!  All the bloodwork is looking great.  Emery even has antibodies so she doesn't have to start in on a full immunization schedule which is fantastic!  The vaccinations she had in China were effective and we don't have to go near needles for a while which is even better.  And no giardia, anemia, liver problems, or kidney problems.  Everything looks very great which is wonderful news.

Then we talked to our cardiologist, who I really, really like, and Emery's information was presented to a large group of cardiologists and surgeons this morning.  There are a couple of different surgery options and everyone agreed that she is an excellent candidate for heart surgery.  She is in a very stable condition with extremely minimal lung damage so there is no emergency at all.  He wants to have Stanford look at her file since they are the number one in the world for treating her heart specific heart condition and asked if that would be ok.  YES!  So we should know their input in one to two months and decide where we will have the surgery done if Stanford will agree to see her, and then see if our insurance will cover the procedure if it is not in Washington.  But he said we are looking at having a surgery date by December/January and surgery next spring sometime and that she is doing great and to let her just live her life and enjoy the holidays.

So that is our update, totally not what we were expecting when we adopted her, and still some pretty major surgery options that we will have to decide on, mostly whether or not to do one major surgery or to have a series of surgeries to fix component by component and there are pros and cons to both options. In the meantime, we went shooting again today, 4-wheeling, playing in a stream, getting totally muddy, out to a bonfire on the beach with friends last night and our families kids were involved in a major mud fight at the ocean edge and just becoming an Alaskan girl and loving being a part of a family where we all share the same last name and belong to each other.  Life is great right now, I am going to enjoy it since it will fly by too fast.

As a footnote, for those of you who are familiar with Dora the Explorer, yesterday Emery was trying to tell my youngest son 'No' and he wasn't really responding so she held out her hands and yelled 'Swiper no swiping, Swiper no swiping!''.  I couldn't stop laughing.  She was using English, I guess:)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Faith is Like a Little Seed

One of the songs that my kids sing says 'Faith is like a little seed, if planted it will grow'.  I think this is so very apparent when you get down the road and look back and instead of this small seed you have something strong and precious and meaningful.  Even though my life doesn't always reflect my faith in the way I would like, I get busy and sometimes my days seem like a string of appointments and chauffeuring children to activities, and cooking and cleaning and just the everyday things that can make up our lives and none of them are major or super impactful on the world, I can see the way that my faith colors my life.  It was a little seed that I planted when I was very young and now it is a rock that I am built upon.  It is a source of comfort, a well of strength I can draw from.  I am interested in what this new season of life will/may bring.  I had cut back on most activities for myself before we adopted Emery, but I am going to be cutting back more and keeping her home more until her health is taken care of. I have been able to be more involved in the community and have so loved it but now I get to take a step back or maybe to the side or in a different direction and refocus on solidifying my family and I am really excited about it.

What a gift to be able to focus my energy on strengthening our family bonds and solidifying us as a unit.  Societies and communities are only as strong as the families that make them up and I am thrilled to be able to really focus my time solely on my family for a while.  I had a thought the other night, that the world is kind of like a huge storm right now and I need to strengthen my family against any storms that might come at us. We live a pretty peaceful life.  We are very blessed in our daily lives, but I know on many fronts there is potential to do better and to be stronger and I am really glad that this adoption gives me the added incentive to focus on things that I haven't since my boys were younger since we have kind of moved on.  We don't focus on the extreme basics of what our beliefs are, but with Emery we have to since it is completely foreign to her.  We haven't done as many crafts or basic little songs or games since my older three were much younger, and now we do again and surprisingly they are all enjoying it.  While there is always a focus on our family and I love my family, in the past years as our kids have gotten a little bit older, we are more and more busy and have more and more distraction that gets more of our focus and even though everyone is still involved in activities of their own my refocus is a really great thing.  Learning the basics of what I have faith in has been fun for the older boys, I am loving hearing about their own faith.

I remember seeing a lesson when I was younger, there was a jar and a pile of rocks and a cup of sand.  The teacher poured the sand into the jar then tried to fit the rocks in, they wouldn't fit.  Then she put the rocks in first and allowed the sand to fill up the space around them and everything fit.  I am getting the rocks of the most important things on my schedule and then letting whatever else can fit make it, or be left out for this season and at least I will be assure that I have the important things taken care of.

On the medical front, we spent a nice long day on Thursday going back and forth to the hospital and clinic for a pediatrician check up, blood work, and more blood work.  By the end Emery, who is a total trooper, was pretty much done.  And I realized that spending five or six hours dealing with medical issues that I thought would be 45 minutes can really impact a schedule:) I have been assured by the cardiologist's nurse that I will hear a surgery plan tomorrow afternoon.  I am hoping that will be the case.  Emery is doing really well, we just keep taking two steps forward and one step back with the attachment and bonding and adjustment process which is great since we are definitely moving forward!

We went shooting as a family yesterday and Emery loved it!  Too bad she isn't old enough for a bb gun of her own, that is usually an 8 year old thing around here, but she has three older brothers and a dad who can share.

Thank you so much for your prayers.  I know God lives.  I know He loves us.  I know He hears our prayers, every single one.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

One Month Ago Today

We got home from China one month ago today.  It has been a really great month.  In so many ways things have gone better than I could have hoped for.  Emery is a gem.  She is sweet and smart and her English is improving by leaps and bounds every day at this point.  She is learning to read in English, can write her name and has learned that not everyone is a girl:)  She is learning that she doesn't have to shut down if she gets told no or something is taken away from her and that she doesn't have to cry in her bed at night.  She is learning how to ask if she is hungry instead of either eating snacks from her bag or waiting for a meal.  She has learned that the dog is not a monster and very firmly tells our dog to 'Sit down.  Sit down.  Good girl.'   Our lab  weighs probably three times as much as Emery and will, in fact, sit down at Emery's feet.  She has also learned not to hit the dog or poke her but to be nice to the only animal she has ever been in close contact with.

Emery has learned that she doesn't have to be on her best behavior to get us to like her, nor does she has to be in competition with anyone else because baba and mama spend time with all of their kids and don't favor one above the other.

She has learned that when her clothes are dirty, and it is ok if that happens, we will wash them(not by hand) but in the machine and she can wear different ones.  She has learned that it is ok to have her own toys and some she does not have to share and there are some toys that her brothers don't have to share with her.

I have learned that there is much more courage in facing a new life when you don't have a choice than in bringing an unknown child into a very happy life.  I have learned that God doesn't only answer the prayers that are spoken but also the prayers in your heart that you didn't even realize were prayers until they were answered.  I have learned that it is a blessing to be able to cry and grieve and feel and be able to identify and articulate your emotions.  I have learned that when God blesses you with peace you can rest on that peace.  I have learned( or relearned) that being home with my family is one of the best gifts ever and that time together doing nothing special is just as important as the time spent on special planned things.  I have learned that the time I have spent with my sons has given us great relationships and allowed me to know them in so many ways and I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to spend my time with them.

It has been a great month, in some ways it seems like we just got home and in others it seems like Emery has been with us forever.  She is such a part of our family and fits in so easily.

We are going to be keeping her home for the next month and then reevaluate where we are attachment wise.  She has been exposed to a lot of female caregivers in her lifetime and while she wants and thinks she knows what a mama is I don't know that you can really understand family by a worded expression or a dream of a different life especially at barely 5 years old so since she is so very willing to go to any of my friends or other women for food, love, to sit on their laps, hold their hands, blow kisses, say I love you, etc.  and not necessarily to me( though at home is great with all of those things) we are going to keep her home, plus keep her out of germ's way as well.  I am hoping that will help to give us a better attachment foundation and know we have only been together for a small percentage of her life and that attachment is a process not necessarily a destination.

I am grateful for the blessing of my life.  I have had a good life so far.  It hasn't been perfect, it hasn't all been happy or pain free.  But it has all made me who I am and I have enjoyed the journey and am happy to still be on the path.  What a great joy life is and what a blessing to go through it with people that you love and to know that I am never alone. 

Today at church my eldest son got up and spoke briefly and as he ended he said "I hope that any of you who are adopting will be able to have your adoptions be as successful as mine."  I guess that sums it up as well as I could.  It has turned out remarkable well and I really feel that God has put our family together.  We have felt strongly about each of our children before they were even born. And it is the same with Emery.  We felt so strongly about her and I too hope that anyone adopting can have as much success as us.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


So far we have no update, which I am choosing to look at as a good thing.  When I called the hospital yesterday they said that they would leave a message with the cardiologist and were unsure whether Emery had been presented for surgery conference last Monday or would be this Tuesday after the Labor Day weekend but not to worry I would be called.  And that is my update.  I am thinking that it is great that she is doing so well that they are not scheduling an emergency surgery and that we can have time together as a family. 

It was FANTASTIC  to start school today.  It felt like heaven on earth to me to be gathered with my kids and their books around the table.  I really can't say how great it felt to not be stressing about anything or checking on paperwork whereabouts or anything like that.   It is so peaceful on this side, even with medical things up in the air.  I think that maybe the adoption prepares you to know that you have to trust in the Lord about your child because above and beyond they are His and He will take care of them. 

I put Emery down for her nap today and then there was a knock on the door.  Flowers from a wonderful adoptive mom who is my friend through this adoption.  With Jeremiah 29:11-13 on the card.  What a gift and a reminder.  Thank you.  I can't wait for it to be your turn!

Emery's English is getting better by the day.  She has unfortunately learned the word 'NO' and uses it indiscriminately.  Do you want to wear this?  No.  Do you want breakfast?  No.  She shakes her head and sometimes says No thank you, but then once you ask again will usually say yes.  It is pretty funny.  She also started her reading program today so we will see how that goes.  We can only do parts of it since somethings just don't translate into English well at this point and some pronunciations are going to be a little bit interesting, but she really liked getting to learn some new sounds and work on writing her name in English.  It is really fun to have two kindergarteners since the older boys pretty much form their own group.

Life is really great right now, and I am loving this lull in the activity.  Emery is not well attached to us at all and it will be a long journey I think.    She is super easy going and loves to be involved in things and will happily adapt to any activity or new person. She enjoys us.  She likes us.  She trusts us. But that applies to pretty much everyone she meets as well which while that might seem like a great thing on some levels, on others is potentially problematic as she grows since she needs those attachments to help her have healthy relationships throughout the rest of her life.  So we are back to trying to really keep her at home.  And the fall rainy season is upon us which helps that cause out. 

Thank you so much for all of your prayers.  We really appreciate and are in awe of the many people who continue to pray for Emery's heart.  She is a really sweet, intelligent, funny, loving little girl who is so much fun to be around.  Her oxygen was lower when we went to Seattle and she is getting a bit stuffy nosed, we all do around the change of the seasons here.  But we are praying for her to stay healthy.  She  still wants to laugh long and hard and enjoy her life even if she has to take a few deep breaths afterward to pay for the moment of joy.  I guess that is a lesson for me.  Live your life and enjoy the beautiful moments even if you have to breathe hard afterwords, how can you enjoy the great if you don't know the opposite.  Living in southeast Alaska we have rain more than 2/3 of the year.  And when their is a sunny day, the whole town enjoys it.  The beaches are packed, the trails crowded and parks full because you don't know when the next beautiful day will come and you don't want to waste it.