Now What?

September 15, 2012 by nohandsbutours 3 Comments

Over the last seven years I have been in some stage of the adoption process. Dossier paperwork, waiting for approvals, stalking RQ, following blogs, doing home study visits, etc. You get the picture. Bringing my girls home became a full time job (obsession) for me! Some of us may call it the nesting period while you wait. Regardless of what we call it, it was a special time. Full of highs and lows, but filled with so many amazing blessings. Three trips to China in five years! Incredible!

August 8th we celebrated our one-year “Gotcha” day with our baby girl, Emme Jade.

We had our last Home Study visit in July to finalize our commitments to China!

In my heart I feel confident that our family is complete. I am realistic to know my limits, and I think I am there. But, I also know that if God called us back again we would be obedient. But, for now, I sense He is telling us to do our very best to manage the mayhem we have been blessed with. I am not sure how I feel. Part of me is relieved. The other part of me will miss the anticipation of adding another child to our family through adoption! And, mostly that incredible moment when a child I have waited so long for walks in to my life and leaves their tiny hand prints on my heart forever!

I can’t help but wonder, what’s next? Adoption is what I know. Perhaps it’s time for me to “obsess” over the day to day that is calling me now: The house, the laundry, the meals, the homework, their activities. It’s a new season for me! Three in school all day, and one gone four mornings a week! WOW. What should I do with that extra time in my day? I am excited to have more time and energy to do what God is calling me to do now. I think I have come to the conclusion that God is calling me to focus on the blessings that are in my care! And to do it joyfully, and to do it well! So with a renewed hope, and an acceptance that my next trips to China will most likely just to be to visit, I will move forward! My toe will always be in the Yangtze River… My work at Pearl River Outreach blesses me in that way! I will never stop following, celebrating, and loving the precious children of China.  Especially, the ones who wait!

Whatever your adoption stories, I hope today you feel amazingly blessed to be a part of this very special journey!

The "Im-Perfect" Mama!

July 15, 2012 by nohandsbutours 8 Comments

I laughed out loud recently when one of my favorite people on the planet commented that someone she met who had been to my blog thought my life looked perfect!!! Trust me when I say this did not offend me. I was too busy wondering if my girlfriend got hurt when she fell off her chair laughing at this statement!!

This comment did cause me to pause though… There was a time not too long ago that I struggled daily parenting my three girls…. Our third addition rocked my world. She was (and is) spicy, tough, and broken.
She lived (and slept) for four years with the only mother she ever knew. She had more layers than the red onion I just used to make a salad. Honestly, I was in over my head. You see, patience was not one of my spiritual gifts. And, I lost my mind trying to love this child, comfort her little sister who had just been scratched, squeezed, or yelled at, and loving my big girl who needed my time too.

I can reflect back now and tell you it was almost 18 months of HARD!
I can honestly say God chose me to parent this little girl to refine me.
Clearly He knew I would survive, even when I was not so sure!
My stories are many of tough bedtimes, little sister abuse, temper tantrums, and this Mom in tears. But, somehow we got through each day. Slowly remorse and sweet apologies became the norm. And slowly, very slowly, girly giggles kind words and gentle play filled their space. In our case I think this is when she really began to trust us. To know that no matter what we were not going to leave her. That when we said we would love her forever, we meant it.

The picture here is of two little girls that were forced to be sisters… But, what came from that were two little girls that have, on their terms, become best friends. It’s a beautiful reminder relationships take time. Sometimes they evolve slowly. And, when they do, it is so beautiful!!

What’s amazing to me is that during this time in my life, God called us back to China one more time… And, that based on what I was living I said “YES!” It is clear now that God chose #4 to complete us. And, wow has our baby girl done that!!! You will often here me say four is so much easier than three in my world!

So what is the lesson in this post? I guess it is to remember there are blessings in our trials. That life is not perfect, even when it appears to be. And, lastly and most importantly that eventually consistent love and boundaries will trump hard in your world! One day you will hear the words, “Thank you Mama for adopting me!” And, with tears in your eyes you will quietly thank God for every moment that you doubted your ability to gracefully survive!

For those of you struggling as your family finds their way, please accept this cyber hug from this very “imperfect” Mom!

Thankful We Didn't Know…

April 15, 2012 by nohandsbutours 3 Comments

When we reviewed the file of Emme Jade we knew she had a minor heart defect. She had already had a repair in Shanghai at 10 months old, and our cardiologist was confident her heart looked great!

Fast forward to August, 8th, 2011 when we met Emme in Nanjing. There is only one word for that day, amazing! We had been blessed with so many photos of Emme before we met her, that we knew we were going to be crazy about her. That was an understatement! But, back to this post for now…

That first night in Nanjing with her, I gave her a bath. I noticed the cutest dimple on the bottom of her spine. I also sensed there was something not quite right about it. I added it to the list of things to have checked when we had our first appointment with our pediatrician back home.

In early September we did take Emme to the doctor. She had three things that we all agreed we wanted our surgeon to look at on her. One was that dimple. It turned out to be a “sacral dimple” that needed closure. To do that, Dr. Steve ordered an MRI. In his words, “It’s nothing guys, but I need to rule out tethered cord before I can operate in that area.”

Emme had her MRI a few weeks later, and we were beyond surprised to learn that she did indeed have a “tethered cord.” We were referred to a well-known Neuro Surgeon in our area. My head was spinning, when we found out this news. Honestly, I felt sick… My sweet little girl needed a Neurologist! I did what I do best. I started net-working to find out more about this condition, and to find out more about this doctor. I learned quickly that we had the right doctor for our little girl. I was so thankful for that.. But, this cord surgery was a mystery to me. I learned that some doctors take a wait and see approach to this condition, and some feel surgery is necessary right away.

Our Neurosurgeon was very patient with Jeff and I as he explained Emme’s condition. He made it clear after “Uro-Dynamics” testing that she needed surgery immediately. In her case there had been no damage to her bladder or bowels yet, so our timing was good for her. We also learned that you can’t compare the diagnosis of “tethered cord.” This is not something that only children with Spina Bifida can have. All cases present differently. Anyone can have a cord that does not release at birth. But, often it takes a change in neurological abilities that reveal a problem.

I was blessed to connect with a very special Mom with a daughter from China who had experienced this surgery with her daughter. She helped me to know what to expect.

Emme did undergo surgery for her “tethered cord” on January 26th at Minneapolis Children’s Hospital. What we were told would be a 5-7 day stay was four nights! She was not a star patient in the PICU, but she was a survivor!!!! Trying to keep a three year old down, was not an easy task.. But, we did it.. Post surgery she was home for three weeks while her stitches were in. She did so much better at home! Two months later you would never guess this child had major spinal surgery. She does not skip a beat as she chases her three big sisters around!

We are so thankful that we did not know Emme Jade had a tethered cord when we read her file. I think we would have passed on a child with this condition with the little knowledge we had at the time. However, living through it now, I would do it all over again! But, you see, if God had not put that precious dimple on her backend, we never would have had any reason to check. It was the road map to her future. Thank you Lord!

So, just remember, God may surprise you when you get home with your baby. But, also know that the love you have for them will trump any medical condition. With the right information, and this amazing network of adoptive Mom’s you will prevail. You just have to reach out for it! God does not give us more than we can handle.. He equips us for success!

Emme Jade is still a heart baby. In fact, she was diagnosed with a “Bicuspid Aeortic Valve” that needs to be watched… Another surprise! But, to us she is just our precious baby girl that we love like crazy cakes!!

Blessings on your journeys!