Monday, June 29, 2009

Who knows where the time goes?

We have had a very busy few weeks! Last Tuesday, Matt and I celebrated our 25th Anniversary! He and I met in Avalon NJ, where I was working as a counselor at a summer home for blind children. We have had many challenges over the last 25 years, many of them medical challenges. But we have been so blessed, beyond measure, with the ability to handle these challenges with much prayer, and plenty of humor. Our goal has been to always have fun, to love and cherish each other, and to raise wonderful children. So far, so good!

Matt and I were able to get a way for two nights last weekend! That was so great, as we have not been away alone for years, and Saturday Matt totally surprised me with a little get-together with our family and a few friends to celebrate our anniversary. He and the kids got me out of the house (thanks to my parents) and put together a party, and I had no clue. Trust me, I needed to do food shopping, so there was nothing in the house when I left Saturday morning! Matt really wanted to show me how much they appreciate all I do by inviting the people who have helped and supported us all these years, to celebrate our marriage. My first-ever surprise party, not including my bridal shower. How lucky I am!

We are waiting for pictures of Shane! The agency emailed me that they have an update, including new pictures, and are waiting for them to be formatted before they can send them to us. Hopefully I will have them in a few days. He is about 35 lbs. now, and about 39 inches tall. We are on day 81 of 'the wait' for LOA or Letter of Acceptance. Hard to know when we will hear, but it could be any day...or it could be weeks and weeks from now. Sending up prayers, asking for more!

Sophie is doing VERY well with her CI. She has therapy two times a week, and basically is learning to use her hearing. Her audio gram shows that she can respond well to sounds, now she needs to learn how to use the hearing she has. It is an amazing process to see her brain working, and she is very motivated to talk, so this is right up her alley. The therapist is amazed, every time we see her, at what she can do.

Will post Shane's pictures as soon as we get them.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A little help from our friends

As many of you who are familiar with international adoption know, it costs money. Lots of money. But money is never a deterrent for families who are determined to adopt, and while there is a lot of planning and saving, somehow the money comes. There are few people I know personally who have the money sitting around waiting to decide what to do with it, and then think about adoption. But for those of us who are called to adoption, we are so blessed with the miracles that happen, continually, to allow us to afford the fees associated with bringing our children home. And the truth is...once we see their faces, there is no thought to the adoption loans, penny-pinching, and budgeting that goes into making that happen.

Both with Sophie's adoption and now Shane, we have been blessed with the generosity of family and friends who are helping us to make the burden a bit easier. My family gave up presents from Nana and Pop Pop and my parents donated to our Kingdom Kids fund instead of buying presents for everyone. Friends from adoption groups, people I have never met, sent in checks and donations. We are so grateful to everyone who have helped us in any way. My dream is to someday start a foundation to enable families to adopt children who are blind or deaf, and to help educate parents as to what to expect when adopting a special needs child. (More to come on that)

A few weeks ago, a family of three precious girls, all adopted from China, whom we know from our elementary school, had a yard sale to help us raise money to bring Shane home. Each of these little girls knows first-hand what it means to live in an orphanage and to be brought home to live in a loving family. The girls are under the age of 10, and they raised $200.00 for Shane's adoption. The oldest, Lily, had a table where she sold toys, water bottles and soft pretzels. She was so thrilled to be able to help us. I truly cannot wait to be able to tell Shane about these little girls who gave of themselves to help him.

Hope you all have a great day. Another full week coming right up...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

We have had a busy few weeks...but then again, busy is relative! I always say that any day I am not taking one of my kids to a hospital for therapy or a surgery is a good day! That being said, in the last two weeks we had two medial appointments at DuPont and three therapy appointments. So, add to that a part/time (turning into full time job), five kids, too dogs (that is not a typo...when people ask me how many dogs we have I say ''too''....many!!!)
Sophie has now had two AV therapy appointments. We need to go to therapy twice a week so that she can learn to use her hearing. The CI is complicated, and just because it is on, it doesn't mean she hears everything, nor does she understand everything. No one is sure that she ever heard, but there are suspicions that she perhaps had hearing but lost it. Since we have no medical records, we will never know. Even her surgeon said that if she did hear before, many years ago, perhaps in her first year, she would have only heard Chinese speech, and not English. So, there is no reason they can figure out why she can imitate some English words. Another mystery with Sophie's name on it!
Her first therapy appointment started off with fidgeting, giggling, and general over-all not cooperating! It was a three o'clock appointment, and we had an hour drive to get there. The therapist showed Sophie which chair to sit in and she hopped up on the stool, strapped herself in, and promptly began rocking herself back and forth, alternately banging the table and the wall she was leaning against. Once we got her to stop rocking, therapy began.
The therapist, Amy, showed Sophie a game where she would make a sound ("EEE", "OOOO""", SHHH", etc) then Sophie would repeat that sound, and drop a marble into a bucket. Amy and I played a round so that Sophie would understand completely, and then it was her turn.
"EEE" Amy said, her hand covering her mouth so that Sophie could not read her lips.
"EEE", Sophie repeated, then dropped a marble into the bucket.
Amy's eyebrows raised slightly, and she glanced quickly at me. I could just read her thoughts. Must be a fluke. Lucky guess.
"OOO" Said Amy.
"OOO", repeated Sophie, promptly dropping another marble in with a firm kerplunk.
"MMM", another marble in.
"Shhh", difficult sound.
"Shh', a perfect imitation, another marble.
"SSS". Tough to get this one
"SSS, and Sophie drops another one, waiting for the next sound.
At this point, Amy stops and looks at me, her face incredulous.
"We were supposed to do this for a half hour," she says. "You don't understand, she shouldn't be able to do this so soon after her activation."
I laughed and told her "Welcome to working with Sophie. Buckle your seat belt and take notes...she is something!"
Amy then regrouped and found an activity that was challenging for Sophie and we were off and running. We are learning that while Sophie can approximate sounds to repeat, she needs to learn to develop an auditory memory. She has not learned things through her auditory parts of her brain. All of her learning (or most) has happened through her other senses. Now she needs to learn through her hearing only. This being said, she will rely on her signs for a long time, and sign will always be her first language. We are very committed to her continuing her ASL, since she will rely on this for difficult situations (large crowds, classes, etc). And there is truly no guarantee what will happen with the CI.
Therapy will continue two times a week...stay tuned.