Sunday, June 30, 2013

Pray for Teresa!

Tomorrow morning at 7 30 little Teresa will undergo her 4th heart operation in 2 weeks.  Her first heart transplant has been rejected by her body, and now Teresa's surgeon will be placing a Berlin heart tomorrow in hopes of sustaining Teresa until another donor heart becomes available.  This is a very risky operation, and there is great concern that Teresa's pulmonary pressures are too high for the Berlin heart to work.  There is also concern about bleeding from the blood thinners she has been on as well as "junky" lungs from all that her little body has been through!  If the Berlin heart does not work, there is no other option for healing on this earth for this precious child.  I can not fathom what her parents are going through.  Please pray for a miracle for Teresa if it is in the Lord's will to heal Teresa this side of heaven.  Her family is keeping their blog updated with prayer requests:

Thursday, June 27, 2013

One Month after Gotcha Day

Dawson loves riding in the wagon but hates the swing.
He knows just how to avoid the camera. . .squeeze eyes shut or

hide your face!

Dawson has discovered how much fun a simple cardboard box can be.
He has taught us that he loves to carry a bucket around with all of his loot!  His Gabby has provided 2 - one small and one large to accomodate his carrying needs.

Dawson loves his sister's plastic tea set.
He smiles and laughs - alot, and we just melt!
Shelby has already introduced the piano to Dawson.  He surprised us and used both his arm and his stump to "play".  Most of the time he ignores his stump.
Dawson helped David celebrate Father's Day.
(I was surprised the picture turned out so well being that there are 9 children here!)
Only 3 days after coming home, Dawson helped his great-grandmother celebrate her 90th birthday.

He has done well taking to David.  Still calls him "Gu Gu"/big brother rather than Ba Ba or Daddy. 
And he adores Katie.  Ordinarily this would be a great  thing, but with adoption, it's a  little problematic.  When Katie puts him down or has to leave him, he cries as if his heart is broken.  He does NOT cry like that when he seperates from me.  This only happens with Katie.  Despite my doing everything for him and meeting all of his needs, it is quite apparent that our attachment is still developing.  This is new territory for me.  However, it is worth all the effort to ensure that he attaches to David as father and me as mother.  The work will continue!
Dawson is a shoe bandit!  Here he stole Ellie's slippers.  He is constantly wearing someone else's shoes.  It causes me concern because his balance is not the greatest and when he falls, well, he falls on his face.  Shoes that are too big just put him at greater risk of falling.

All in all, we are doing well.  I am still exhausted and struggling to find our "new normal".  I feel like I live in the kitchen and laundry room -only.  My days seem to consist of. . .feed, wash, wipe.  Repeat.  Wash, dry, fold, put away.  Repeat.  Oh, I must add to that a taxi cab driver - drive, drop-off, drive, pick-up.  Repeat.  Did I say I am tired - ALOT?
Dawson is getting along well with all of his siblings, and they all like him.  I think Hudson has said only once that he didn't want a new brother anymore - well, buddy, it's a little too late for that!
Still searching for the "lazy days of summer"
Have you found them cause I sure haven't!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Please Pray for a Special Little Girl!

This is Teresa Bartlinski on the way to receive her new heart yesterday.  I have followed Teresa's story since Half the Sky advocated for her back in early 2010.  A wonderful and most courageous family adopted her in July 2010.  Her congenital heart defect was complex and because she waited so long in an orphanage in China, she was inoperable once she was home.  Although any heart transplant is high risk, Teresa's is VERY high risk due to the high pulmonary pressures she has.  As of this morning, she is pink for the first time EVER but the right ventricle, of her almost perfect matched heart, is struggling because of the pressures in her lungs.

Friday, June 14, 2013

A morning surprise worth celebrating!

It started by accident - the only spoon clean in the drawer.

Then I thought "Maybe this will work to allow Dawson to feed himself."

Not that I mind feeding my sweet baby boy.

I love feeding him in fact, and it's great for attachment!

I just had to see if this would allow Dawson some independence.

Ya' know, all 2 year olds want to do it "By myself!"

Dawson did it by himself!
Hudson and I cheered -ALOT!
Dawson was just smiling - so proud of himself!
I took lots and lots of pictures and sent pictures via text messages to David so he could cheer for Dawson too!
 (the rest of the littles were watching morning TV, and of course, the teens and tweens were still sleeping.  They missed it!)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

At Last - a Post from Home

June 5 ~ waiting in the Hong Kong Airport

Waiting in the Chicago Airport ~ Dawson people watching

Home at last with big sister Katie and wearing the outfit I smocked for him along with his brother's baseball hat.

Of course, the 2 inside dogs were not a big hit for the 1st few days.  Now the roles have changed. . .Dawson is no longer afraid of the dogs, the dogs are afraid of Dawson : )

Blurry, but considering what I had just endured for the previous 24 hours, I'll take it.

Coming home was as good as could have been expected, but let me just say that travelling half way around the world with a 2 year old is No. Small. Feat.
My biggest issue was Dawson's apparent love of strangers despite the orphanage telling me that it was his biggest fear.  Not anymore!  I think he would have ditched me for the Indian lady sitting next to us on the long plane ride from Hong Kong.  And he likely would have left me high and dry in Chicago and flown to New York with a large gentleman wearing a friendly smile who happened to be at our same gate.
Dawson slept some on both flights, ate well on the long flight and was too busy people watching to care much for the pizza that I devoured once we were at our gate in Chicago.
I cried when I saw my family at our local airport - tears of happiness for our reunioun, pure relief to know the solo part of my journey was over, and from absolute exhaustion!
Almost a week later, I still feel exhausted most days just not quite as severly.  Dawson has had some attachment issues with me now that he has other options.  He has rejected me for pretty much anyone else in the house especially his 2 oldest sisters.  This seems to be getting a little better in the last 24 hours, but I know it may worsen again before he is solidly attached to me as his mama.  That has been tough to bear when added with the physical exhaustion, emotional stress of adding another child to our family, and the huge stress of re-entry into "life".  Obviously, it is much easier to parent 1 child in a 5 star hotel with no laundry to do or meals to cook or house to clean or kids to shuffle to and fro.  But I am surviving by God's grace alone.  David returned to work on Monday, and I had a good breakdown. Tears flowed as I realized the brunt of caring for 9 children is mine - alone. 
Today is better.  The sun is shining - finally!  My sister is grocery shopping for me as I type and then picking up my kiddos from VBS.  My mom rescued me yesterday in the midst of my breakdown - offering advice and encouragement, doing dishes, laundry, and changing bed linens.  Loving family and friends are feeding us.
Praise God for all of the blessings which He alone has provided to make this all possible.

And, for the record, when Mary Margaret (their family is also struggling after returning home) asked me yesterday how on earth I could ever do this 5 TIMES, I replied "Only God!  There is no part of me that would ever willingly sign up for this apart from a divine calling from my Father in heaven!"

Adoption is beautiful, but it is HARD!


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Goodbye Guangzhou, Hello Hong Kong!

June 3 ~ Our Consulate Appointment

The J family who were a huge blessing to me and who I now consider my lifelong friends!  It was such a joy to have spent most of this trip with them.
Peter, Parker, Turner, Mary Margaret, and Scott

After our Consulate Appointment, Mary Margaret, Dawson, and I wnet back to Shaiman Island to finish our shopping.  We had a great time and found just the items we needed for our new adopted children as well as for those special ones back home.  We took a break at Starbucks and look who was sitting at the table next to us - a bride and groom.  They were on the island taking pictures in their rented attire months before their actual wedding date - odd for us Americans, but that is the Chinese custom for wedding pictures.

Dawson was quite a trooper for our 3 hour shopping trip.  Right before we left the island, he took a big fall on a very hard tile floor.  As I suspected, when he falls, he lands on his face.  He doesn't have hands to catch his fall.  It sounded horrible, but thankfully, he recovered soon after and only had a big goose egg to show for it.

After shopping, Peter and Turner stopped by to return something and came in to play with Dawson.  Dawson was so happy to see them.  They had a great time.  I think Dawson is going to love all the sisters and brothers waiting for him at home.  He loves being around people.

Having a  blast with Peter and Turner.

June 4
Today, Dawson entertained himself quite well while I packed.   Here he was enjoying one last look around Guangzhou from our hotel window.

The White Swan is completly closed so no Red Couch photo for Dawson.  Why not switch to a green chair at the Garden instead?

My boys just do not handle this picture - taking tradition well.  3 years ago, Hudson was red faced and crying over having the Red Couch photo taken.  Thankfully, Dawson did do much better than Hudson, but he refused to look at the camera.

Until Mama joined him.

One last photo with our favorite guide, Elvin.
He said I would be back because 10 is a perfect number in China!    My reply - "I'll tell David!"
I do prefer even numbers : )
Sweet Peter and Dawson

My family for the last 10 days!
Dawson and I sat in the train station from 3 until 5 30 when we boarded.  Elvin got us situated and then left to go to the Consulate to pick up Dawson's Chinese passport with his American visa.
A nice man from Israel who now lives in Panama and was in China on buisness approached me asking about Dawson's story.  He said he was so touched watching Elvin, Dawson, and I interact.  I explained how Dawson came to be a member of our family - a sad beginning involving abandonment and life in an orphanage yet Dawson's story did not end there.  I then explained the call we felt from God to the orphans in China.  The man began to weep and thanked me for sharing our story.  He said there is so much bad in the world, and that it was so great to witness such a beautiful story.  Talking with Sammy helped to pass the time and reminded me of how God can use our obedience to His call to touch many, many lives- even in the most unexpected places.

As we stood in line prior to boarding the train, Dawson began to hit and kick me.  Then the crying started which escalated and got the attention of the many Chinese folks around us.  Of course, then the stares came our way.  I felt like I was suffocating with an insanely heavy backpack on my back and a screaming 24 pound 2 year old strapped to my front.  I truly felt like my lungs did not have room to exhale.  I tried not to panic and prayed instead.  Thankfully, the line started moving.  Then God provided a helper for me ~ the Chinese man behind me offered to take my suitcase.  I thanked him and gladly handed it over to him.  He took it down the escalator, all the way to car #4, and then loaded it onto the train for me.  I thanked him from the bottom of my heart.  Two other kind folks helped me get my bags better organized on the escalator after deboarding the train.  When waiting for the taxi in Hong Kong, the gentleman in front of me offered to let me go ahead. I thanked him for his kindness and proceeded to the taxi.   The taxi driver did not get out to assist me in the pouring rain - he just popped the trunk.  Praise God, the same gentleman who let me go ahead of him, gave me his umbrella and then lifted my
likely over-weight-for-international-flights suitcase into the trunk of the taxi.  I thanked him over and over as well!  God provided exactly who I needed at the exact moments I needed help and encouragement.  Why did I ever doubt?  Oh, ye of little faith!

The Regal Airport Hotel never looked so good and cold Mcdonalds never tasted so good!

Dawson is already snoozing, and I am right behind him.
Our flight leaves tomorrow at 11 50AM. 

Thank you all for your prayers, comments, emails, and encouragement!  Next post will be from home, sweet, home!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Life as we know it in a hotel. . .

How we have been doing lunch!

Learning to hold his banana and feed himself!
Dawson wasn't too sure of the pool but did finally sit on the edge and enjoyed kick the beach ball.

Blogger is as SLOW. AS. A. SNAIL.  Or maybe it's the internet.  Anyways, Dawson and I are leaving now to catch the train to Hong Kong.  Ready as I'm going to be so let's get going and get us one step closer to home!

Lingnan Park Part 2

Everywhere I see horses, I think of Shelby and Katie : )

The Pearl River

Elvin - by far the best guide in China!   He toted Dawson and the stroller up and down many stairs for me.  God has equipped Elvin with a special love for the children of China and for their families who come to adopt them. 

A different kind of "garbage truck"

             Dawson's ready to head out for dinner and needless to say, this little boy loves his sunglasses!