Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pat-a-Cake and we go again!

Well, we are almost at one month from our return from China. While we were away, we posted on (type in Shane Roberto). If you weren't able to follow our journey, feel free to catch up.
It has been quite a month, and our lives have changed significantly since October 12th when we first met Shane. We are now a family of 8!!! Do you have any idea how many gallons of milk that is a week? Don't think about it, it will exhaust you.
When we arrived home on October 23, we were greeted at the airport with our Mick, whom we flew home for the weekend. Mick's flight arrived just as we were getting our bags, and we had a wonderful weekend with all the kids. We didn't get much sleep, but we sure were happy to be home. The girls absolutely flipped over Shane, and he has been engulfed in hugs and kisses from the minute he came in the door.

As for the has it been hard. Matt and I have basically been doing shifts, in between swine flu, school working, and adjusting two kids to our time rather than China time. Shane has had a very tough time with the change in his life. We know it to be a better change, but this little guy has been thrown for a loop. He pretty much had little to no experiences in China that advanced his development. I know he was well-loved, and fed and taken care of, and I know his foster family cared for him. But it is so sad to think of how much time was lost, how much lack of sensory experiences have affected him... Anyway, we are moving forward, and not looking back.

It is now Saturday, November 21, and Shane had a good night's sleep, which means I had a good night's sleep! Wow, what a difference that makes. Besides that fact that I am too old for sleep deprivation: lack of sleep makes cowards of us all! There is no learning happening when you are exhausted. So, we are thrilled with any of the changes and advances Shane has made.

First of all, Shane loves to hum songs, and 'babble' the words. So, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star sounds like " Da da da da, da da da da, ga ga goo..." He loves it when we sing songs to him, and will stop his babbling and listen. The greatest thing is when he begins to hum new songs that we sing to him. The other day he hummed Row Row Row your Boat, and made the 'm' sounds with the right syllables for 'Merrily, Merrily'. Big, big, big.

Matt and I are overjoyed with what I call the 'glimmers' of change we are seeing. I describe it to people as a little boy, covered in cobwebs. We know he is there: we are not sure exactly who he is, or what he looks like completely, but we are slowly clearing the cobwebs to let him out. Good food, and lots of it, lots of milk and good things to drink, sleep, lots of hugs and kisses, sensory experiences, and stimulation are slowly showing us who he is. He brings us so much joy, and once again Matt and I are heading to the playground, and all of us are going around singing songs and playing 'pat-a-cake'.

We are slowly formulating a plan for Shane which includes Physical and Occupational therapy, which we will begin as an out-patient for CHOP, through our insurance. We want to give him a head-start on learning to use his body and muscles. He was never expected to feed himself with utensils, hold a cup, or walk very much. He walks very well, and has great mobility, but would rather hang on the floor, or be carried. He did not wear shoes, and we have to jump through hoops for him to wear them.

That being said, he now will hold a sippy cup with a handle, uses utensils with help, finger feeds himself appropriately, and helps getting dressed and undressed. He wears shoes when we are out, and usually leaves them on for a reasonable amount of time. He knows his name, and will turn to us when we say his name. He holds his arms up to be held, and is beginning to show anticipation when we are doing some fun game with him, like tickling, etc.

We have many many hurdles and obstacles, and lots of work ahead of us. But we are a united front, and we are so blessed to have the love and support of our kids and our extended family, and the resources for therapy and for school. We ask for your continued prayers and we know that without your prayers, we would have not been able to make it through. God's grace is leading the way, and we are following...bleary-eyed as we may be!

Adding some new pictures and video...enjoy!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Preparing for one more passenger

Many years ago, when Matt and I were looking to rent, and then eventually buy the house we live in now, we were debating whether or not is was big enough. We had finished our fertility 'work-up', I had had 5 surgeries, and we were preparing to adopt a child domestically. Looking around at the small two-bedroom Cape Cod home that we loved, I said to Matt "It's small, but it's not like we are going to have six kids."

If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.

So, with 26 days to go before we leave for China, we are keeping busy with the day to day activities that come with raising four girls here at home, checking in on Mick, and both of us working. Life is, to say the least, busy. Add to that packing for a two week trip to China, and getting things ready here for the girls to be all set with my parents, and we are pretty darn busy.

We have a little toddler bed for Shane for the time being, and right now he will sleep in the room with the girls, until we get more rooms finished. Our two bedroom home is now a three bedroom home, complete with a second floor addition. Now we are working on putting bedrooms downstairs to spread out even more. It is busy, and hectic, and sometimes crazy, but we love it and wouldn't have it any other way...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New year, new school

Well, the school year officially began yesterday for Sophie. We made an unexpected, but blessed change for her. Last year Sophie was in Pre-K, this year 1st grade to reflect her amazing growth both physically (nine inches in one year!) and academically. We found out in the summer that the Catholic School for the Deaf had moved to a parish school very close to us. It was always our hope that 'someday' Sophie would be able to go to Catholic school, but we thought we would have to wait until high school.

Meanwhile, as we are preparing for Shane, we are hoping that he will be able to go to the Catholic school for the blind, which I am very familiar with with my work. Well, as God would have it, the Catholic school for the deaf has the same building as the Catholic school for the blind!Sophie and Shane will hopefully be going to the same school...albeit different programs, but same formation, same wonderful people. We are so blessed, and so grateful to God for this miracle in our lives. What are the chances that we adopt a blind child and a deaf child, and they can go to the same school!!!

Here is a great picture of Sophie dressed in her uniform. She loves wearing far!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sophie's saying something...

While I am recording, Sophie cannot see my lips, so she is not lip-reading. This is her talking, just listening to my voice. Sorry it is dark. And yes, her hair gets that curly!

It is just three months since her CI was activated...judge for yourself how she is doing!

Travel Approval for Shane!

Finally...we have travel approval! Our approval came last week, with a bit of delay (of course) because there is a holiday in October in China, and we can't travel before that as the province offices are closed. We were not happy with the delay, but it is what it is, and as we learned with Sophie's journey, the Plan is not ours, and there is a reason for it.

So, we should be traveling on October 9th, just five weeks away. We have lots to do to get ready, and Sophie starts school this week, which will keep her busy, and take her mind off the trip. She has already packed the books and toys I have for Shane...she is very excited about going. Since she loves Chinese food, and everything Chinese, she will love being there. She understands why we are going, and that we are going to a different place than what she remembers. It will be fascinating to see her back in China...and able to hear.
She is doing very well with her CI... amazing, really. She can hear little things like the microwave beeping, the phone ringing, and can mimic our speech patterns and inflections. Can you say 'miracle'? What fun, what a blessing, to be a witness to the grace of God on a daily basis. We are so grateful.

Here is a video of Sophie...a little dark, but you can hear her voice.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Finishing up our vacation...we had to cut it short to drive to Vermont to take Mick to school. Boo Hoo! We miss him already. But he is doing well, looking forward to starting Rescue, and he finished his EMT training this summer so he will be a senior member of the squad.

We vacation with another family...they have five kids as well...the group shot is the whole gang..and Terry and I cook for the whole crowd! We have an absolute ball, lots of laughs, and jst in time to get ready for school starting in a week and a half for the high school girls, after Labor Day for Sophie and Shannon.

Waiting any second now for a travel approval. Once we get it, we will have an idea when we are traveling, as in a targeted date for travel. They then ask for a Consulate Appointment and when we get that, we are set to book our flights.

It has been such a long road waiting for Shane, I can't believe we are on the last leg of the journey, but I won't believe it until we are actually home with him. Stay tuned... hopefully this week we will know our plans.

Friday, July 31, 2009

One step closer

Well, we are waiting for the UPS truck, or the Fed Ex truck, to pull up to our house and deliver the LOA, or "Letter of Acceptance" which was signed on Tuesday in China, and is en route to us. Once the LOA arrives, Matt and I will sign it, and next-day it to Maryland, who will then send it off to China again. At that point we wait for TA or Travel Approval, and then a CA, consulate appointment. (Are you confused yet?) Once we get the CA we can book our flights. The bottom line is that we are somewhere around 6 to 8 weeks from traveling. I know that sounds like a long time to most of you, but it sounds like minutes after waiting two years for Shane.
At this point, we can begin to put things in order for what we will need. We went to China in February last time, so our suitcases will be packed very differently traveling in September or so! No winter coats, gloves, sweatshirts! Truthfully, it was not all that cold in China when we were there, and I hate the heat...ugh. But, Matt and I are traveling with Sophie, and are planning on laying low with tours and traveling around the city where we go.
Because Shane is now in foster care, and has not been in the orphanage for more than a year, we are not planning a trip there this time. For Sophie, the orphanage visit was important and meaningful as she knew the people well who had cared for her. Shane will not remember the orphanage or the people there, and the trip is two hours from the province capital. As it is, two days before that he will have traveled two hours to come to us, so we don't need to put him through that.
We are expecting a more difficult time with Shane's transition than we had with Sophie. Because he has been with his foster family for a while, we will be taking him away from the only family he has known. (He was brought to the orphanage at 7 months) Added to the trauma, we will not be familiar to him at all, will not speak his language, etc. To help to buffer this for him, last week we sent him a tape player, lots of batteries, and a tape of songs and one of Matt and I talking to him, singing to him, and reading him stories. Our hope is that by hearing our voices, he will have some comfort that he has heard them before, and was told that we were his family and would love him and care for him. In addition, I wrote him a letter, which will be translated into Chinese by the agency liaison, and I Brailled the letter for him to have to 'see' the words we sent to him. I so hope this help. In any event, we are prepared for the grieving process that is so common for children who are adopted internationally. And then again, Sophie will be there, and she will be all over him with love and hugs and kisses!!! Hearing her laugh, it is very hard to stay sad!
Keep checking in. Once we get closer to traveling, I will route you to a new site to follow our journey as it is an easier site to download pictures and info in China. (You cannot use blogger in China...imagine that)