"You didn't give me these arms, but you gave them a family to hold.
You didn't give me my body but you've truly shaped my soul. Your love has given me wings and how my spirit soars. Knowing that I always will be yours. Forever and for always I am yours."

Saturday, April 28, 2012

FREEDOM on wheels and water

Our dear neighbors have a little dune buggy that they let a covetous and highly intrigued Jaeya DRIVE.  Can I just say that this was likely one of THE MOST exciting and liberating moments of her life.  Of her own free will and direction, she was able to take herself where she wanted to go without depending on another person.  She can't even get to the toilet herself.  But in that hotrod she could FLY.

Jaeya got to giggling so hard I thought she might pass out.  She begged for us to go inside and get Meisyn so she could have a ride too.  Caden did the honors of teaching her how to drive.  Thank you neighbors!  You gave my girls a night they will remember ALL THEIR LIVES.

After a week of practicing swimming in the tub, Jaeya was finally ready to challenge the P O O L.  She did it!  She is now officially a water baby.  The Ellison children are truly one of a kind and I am tremendously proud of their ability to welcome others into our family and help them feel like they belong.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Our Burst of Firsts

We have been home from China for two weeks.  All that has occurred in only two weeks makes my head spin.  May I say that I believe our two new daughters are usually adaptive.  They were excellently prepared for adoption.  They were tremendously loved and cared for before they entered our family.  They are astoundingly strong and resilient.

However, adoption is stressful stuff.  Adding children into a family under every circumstance is hard.  As we adoptive families transition into a new unit there are moments that we feel we may break.  We want to pull the covers over our heads and forget about the roller coaster ride we are strapped in to.

I have adopted thirteen children.  I work as an adoption professional and have done so for the past 17 years.  I have hundreds of hours of education training credits.  AND I AM STRUGGLING.  MY FAMILY IS STRUGGLING.  We are finding our footing with our family's new normal. I want to make sure that every family knows they can honestly share that the post adoption transition is a challenge for all of us. 

The first 2 months after adoption are mainly just trying to make it through each day.  We have at least 6 weeks to go to get our "land legs" back.  And while we do this we have so many exciting new firsts to witness, encourage, and embrace.  Here are some of our firsts...

First time on a swing.  Oh the joy of motion in bodies that have not had a chance to experience it before.

A very first homework assignment.  Completed with deep satisfaction and pride.

A first trip to church.  NOT the highlight of their week...LOL!

First swim in a pool!  Jaeya was just a bit too anxious to try so we have been talking about it all week and practicing with our swimsuits in the bathtub for tomorrow's D Day. (Do It Day)  Meisyn was ready to jump in after about 5 minutes of watching the other children.

Meisyn has also learned that holding things out an open car window can result in losing it, like a precious Strawberry Shortcake sticker book.  Bye bye Strawberry. :(

First Easter Egg coloring.  Why on earth they were doing this, they had no clue but they thought it was fun.

First water play.  A huge hit!!  So, off to the Lake On The Hill we go...about five minutes from our house.  We live in such a cool city!

Little arms aren't supposed to bend that way.... but no denying that sweet smile!

First Tinkerbell jammies.  Meisyn was very committed to wearing them to school but alas, Mommy said no darn it!  These little legs just shouldn't be flopping around like this.  Darn whatever is causing this floppiness.

And the finale would be little Meisyn conquering the stairs.  At the top of the stairs is a playhouse of the most motivating kind.  Without demanding attention from anyone, Miss Meisyn scootched her bottom up one stair and then would reach down and drag her legs up to her.  She would swing her bottom up to the next step and again take her hands and draw her legs up to that stair.  15 times she did this until she had made it to the very top.  By then the whole family had gathered to cheer her on.  Then mommy had to move to the sink to busy herself in dishes so that her determined little Meisyn could not see that tears were dripping down Mommy's chin and plopping into the sink.  Oh sweet child.  Your courage profoundly touches me.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Going from unknowns to knowns then more unknowns

The girls are spending their first day at school!  What a significant day in their lives.  Jaeya has had such fear of the big unknown entity called SCHOOL.  Her whole life she was told she couldn't go to school because she would break her bones.  She begged me not to make her ever go to school because she would break.  The fear of this unknown was beginning to consume her.  I knew we needed to conquer it before it ate her up.

So, I told Miss Jaeya that she was going with me to take Meisyn to school yesterday to give them the enrollment papers and visit Meisyn's teacher.  Jaeya made sure I knew she was NOT going to school herself or would end up broken in half.  (This gesture of breaking in half was very clear!)  I wish I had a video of her and Meisyn as they entered the school.  Their eyes about bulged out of their heads.  This place looked FUN not scary.  Jaeya would look around and repeat in an unbelieving voice, "School?"  I would nod my head and ensure her that indeed this was school.

As you can likely guess, we did end up visiting both Meisyn and Jaeya's classes and the girls did not want to leave.  We had to leave for the doctor during the middle of Jaeya's music class where they were listening to Stravinsky and making a huge firebird.

Today the girls were up at 6 am and counting each minute until they got to go.  Jaeya only teared up and mentioned China ONE time last night.  HUGE PROGRESS.  Meisyn is in the kindergarten so doesn't go until noon.  Big bummer.  But I took Jaeya as Lan and Caden escorted her to her classroom filled with classmates that treat her like a diva.  Uh, no better way to delight Jaeya.  They may regret that at some point, LOL!  With a big smile on her face she motioned me to leave so I did.  My kids are in a Montessori school so Lan, Caden and Jaeya are in the same class.  That really helped.

At noon I took Meisyn to her class where she was enthralled by the teacher who sat with her and helped her with letters and sounds.  She was in heaven.  I then peeked in on Jaeya and when she saw me she broke into a great grin....and then sudden anxiety.  She quickly said, "No school all done!"  I assured her that school was not done.  I was just visiting after dropping off Meisyn.

My dear friends.  This adoption stuff is hard.  It is so exhausting financially, emotionally, and particularly in my case physically as I have to carry my girls everywhere.  I am so grateful for children who can just get to and sit on the toilet themselves.  That is a blessing we don't have with Jaeya and Meisyn.  Seeing my daughters as they embarked upon their first day at a real school made every single annoyance and hardship appreciated. Giving them the chance to go to school like other children is priceless. Just this one day has made everything worth the work and the worry.

I need to share about our visit to the doctor.  Dr. Bunker has been with us through some scary things with the kids and with my near death experience.  He is able to be frank and open with me about things that aren't pleasant to think about.

I put Meisyn on the exam table and showed him her floppy body and the big scoliosis and kyphosis of her back.  At adoption we knew she didn't walk and that she had been diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia and rickets.  There is so much more than this I fear.  I told him I prayed he would tell me he thinks Meisyn has had polio.  I don't want it to be the alternative that I am suspecting it may be.  He just gave me a sympathetic look and replied that he was too young to know much about polio although it may be.  The doctor has never seen such a floppy child such as her in his 20 year practice.  Her legs can be contorted to put her feet behind her neck.  Dr. Bunker requested an emergency referral to the neurology department at Primary Children's Medical Center.  These are Ammie's docs.   It is very possible that our dear, amazing, gentle, smart Meisyn has some form of muscular dystrophy as she has severe neuro-muscular dysplasias.  All forms of MD are inevitably terminal.  We know that Ammie may leave us too soon but his will be a sudden leaving.  A seizure will come that sends him into cardiac arrest.  With MD we would have to watch Meisyn waste away until she could no longer breath on her own.

I am waiting for the neurology department to call with an appointment time.  I'm trying not to get ahead of myself and worry until we know for sure but I know my doctor well and could tell he was worried.  However,  I can say with complete confidence and assurance that our Meisyn is a blessing and we are privileged to have her in our forever family.  No matter what happens and how long she has to be on this earth she will LIVE a full life.  Should she leave us far too soon everything we have done to bring her into our family will be worth it. We are completely smitten with our Meisyn.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Deep in the transition trenches

We arrived home physically but we are long from being "home" emotionally.  It was no small task getting back but that is all for another post, or two, or three!

Sweet Meisyn is six years old and she is just as delightful and even tempered as the day is long.  She is sleeping off a stomach bug right now but is transitioning relatively peacefully.  I don't know how we were so blessed twice but Meisyn is so very much like our Taisha.  I am confident that she will continue flourishing with a happy heart.

Divine Jaeya is having an extremely challenging transition.  While her body may be teeny everything else about her is HUGE.  She is all personality, chatter, curiousity, and charm.  But it also means that her grief, sadness, confusion and frustration are almost overwhelming.  She is also endowed with great courage, determination and a desire for companionship.  This will see her through but we have to survive and find a way out of this trench first.

 (We are driving home from the Las Vegas airport and Jaeya sleeps with a picture of her China Mama tucked in the window.  The desert may as well have been the scarred pockets of the moon to this scared child.)

It didn't help that the night before we left China she rolled off the bed and injured her leg and arm. While her body hurt, the apprehension of leaving China was the biggest source of pain.  The guides were wonderful with her treated her with such kindness.  We have had phone calls with her beloved China Mama at the SWI.  Many parts of the days and most of the nights since our arrival have been sob filled pleadings of "Mommy, lets go China mintian" (Mommy lets go back to China tomorrow.)  We are wearied beyond words.  We are in the deepest of the trenches right now.  The only thing we can do is to get through it.  And we will.

It is terribly difficult to watch your children suffer so much and not be able to take away the pain.  We are here at her side but wish that we could do the grieving for her.  We can't.  We can only do it with her.

Monday, April 9, 2012

This is so messed up! The trip home.

This day deserves much more attention than I can give it tonight.  I will absolutely write about it after I get the pictures posted to the pages.  We took no pictures of the truly digusting part of the trip as there were no pictures needed. The trauma is burned into my brain and the smell into my memory. We will never forget that....EVER.

Goodbye picnic

The most messed up van ride of my life!!!  May there never be another.

Break a leg.....I didn't mean it literally!

Jaeya has likely fractured a leg on the night before our departure from China.  She rolled off the bed and we awoke to a huge THUNK and painful screaming.  With my experience at the medical exam where the doctors were pulling at her not realizing how easily she could break, I followed the advice of our Shriner's team and stabilized her leg myself.  Before I traveled, our OI team loaded me up with everything I would need to mobilize a suspected fracture including a body forming splint.

As Jaeya slept most of the the day away with her beloved big sister Makayla,  We went to visit Lan's foster family.  This is our third chance to meet with them.  I adore this family.  Lan lived with them from the time she was 18 to 35 months old when we adopted her.  She doesn't remember living with them but loves visiting with them and know that she still care about her.

After we had visited a bit and shared some treats, the foster family pulled out a box that I recognized.  We had given it to them on our last visit right before Christmas 2006.  Inside was an ornament with Lan's picture inside.  Under the ornament, I had inserted many bills of Chinese currency.  They family hadn't opened it until after we left.  Well, back to the current situation with the box.  I gasped when they withdrew the ornament and the money was still there.  Not a penny of it had been spent.  They wanted to give it back to me! They assured me they cared for Lan because they loved her.  That was enough.  All they wanted as a present from Lan was her growing up loved and healthy and going to university and someday coming to visit again.

I was completely touched by this sweet gesture.  We so love them!  They gave Lan the frim foundation of attachment and stability that she carries today.  I refused to take the money from them and told them that they should use the money to help the two little girls they foster now.  Then we began talking about these wee girls.  One child I could tell had a repaired cleft lip. The other child I couldn't tell.  They reached down and picked up the second child off her little chair and told me that this was "Little Lan".  Out they pulled her right leg from her pants and my eyes widened.  This child has right leg tibial hemimelia just like Lan.  They wanted to know all about Lan's treatment and what could be possible for Little Lan.  Lan took off her prosthetic and showed them how it works.  They were so pleased.  They hugged Little Lan and told her someday she might walk and run, swim and play just like Big Lan.

My heart is touched by the great work that the foster families do in the lives of the children who wait for a forever family.