Sep 21, 2012

Special Needs - Don't Judge a Child by the Cover

There has been something on my heart for well over a month now. When Tim and I started the adoption process, there was a checklist of what special needs you would accept. We, like many, many others, checked all the boxes that would fall under "minor special needs". In other words, nothing like heart disease, hydrocephalus, AIDS, etc. Nothing that could pose life-threatening. high-risk health problems. We are older and didn't want to deal with anything like that and didn't feel it fair to a child that may need care for the rest of their lives. One specific thing we requested, no heart children. Well, guess what? The little face we fell in love with was a heart child : ) and his special need, even though his referral said corrected, was extremely scary.

We received conflicting reports from specialists, one stating he would have trouble the rest of his life and would require so many more surgeries and another stating that everything seemed corrected and he would be able to lead a healthy life participating in whatever he wished. Talk about confusing! I feel comfortable sharing his special need referral list because if it helps anyone else, it is well worth sharing.


Postoperative Congenital Heart Defect CHD  (which included the below listed in different places)
Atrial Septal Defect (ASD), Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD), Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), Double outlet right ventricle (DORV), Pulmonary Hypertension
Congenital Equinovarus (Clubfeet)
Umbilical Hernia
Abnormality in Vision Screening
Hearing - Failed in Left Ear

We prayed about whether to accept his referral. But, after hearing the extremes and the best, we decided to accept this sweet little round, dimpled face I couldn't get out of my dreams. God gives us abilities and it was our job to use every source available to find out what and how we could help him ahead of time by researching, reading material, joining Yahoo Groups, talking with other adoptive parents with special needs children, etc.

The first 3 weeks with Zander was a bit tough because he wanted nothing really to do with me except his general care. He was glued to his daddy, sister and nephew. I felt very low because I expected to be able to shower all this love on his that had been building for almost 8 long months. After we returned home, Zander woke up one morning and daddy wasn't here, Carmen and Richie weren't here either. It was just him and me. Slowly he came around.

Here's the honest fact, little did I understand or want to admit, it was ME who needed to come around. I look back now and see that I had put up a wall, I was scared to death to really love this little guy with all the special needs listed on his paperwork. He was probably responding to my vibe and me not even realizing.

Well, fast forward 6 weeks later since we first met Zander and I cannot get enough of our little dimpled cutie. I can't imagine life without his infectious giggles, his snuggles, his humor, his stubbornness, heck, just him!

He is as much loved as any of our biological children and grandchildren. He isn't a list of special needs, it doesn't matter what is on a sheet of paper, he's our son. I don't really know how to express the change I feel other than just saying the fear has been replaced with joy, wonder, and love.

So if you are contemplating adoption, don't let what's listed on that paper fool you, do your research and pray for clarity and knowledge because the joy a child with "special needs" can bring to you and your family is priceless.

Sep 19, 2012

One Month Home - New Beginnings

Blog updating with a 19 month old who sees EVERYTHING as new and is more curious than Curious George, has been impossible. Unless I choose a night to stay up until midnight to do an entry, hence tonight's update.

This past month has shown me more about myself, my family and God than I could have ever imagined. Some not so good, some incredible. The amazing things I have seen through the playfulness in Tim, the loving of Carmen, the caring, loving heart of Richie, the acceptance of Alex and love she shows. All our family and friends acceptance and love for this little boy who has traveled to the other side of the world to be part of our world.

Tim & I spent the better part of the past year reading every imaginable book of the pros and cons of international adoption. The worst-case scenarios, the what to do ifs? the your child will feel this, anything and everything we could get our hands on or that was recommended. But NOTHING can really compare to actually coming to the reality that the little one lying next to you in their crib/bed or in the other room, is actually the little soul God has entrusted you to teach him about God, to be there for everything for him, you are his daddy & mommy for the rest of his life. Wow, that's a big gulp!

I really feel for all the adoptive parents that were/are having such a text book hard time with their adopted child. I really can't imagine, because in reality, ours isn't the text book and this sometimes scares the living daylights out of me and then I remember, God has a plan. Whatever we go through, good or bad, God is there and all I can do is pray that I will grow and go through each and every experience and come out the other side doing nothing but giving Him praise. Our life with Zander, so far, has been the MOST amazing. We have not seen anything but the miraculous little boy he is, ever curious, stubborn, comic, and loving. We know there will be times, but we are soaking up and making it through daily with our family.

Hmmm.....where to start? Well, I'll start with today! Today 4 ladies with Child & Family Connections through the state of Illinois came to evaluate Zander. There was a Global Therapist, Occupational Therapist, a Speech Therapist and the agency worker. Tim was off work very early so he got to be a part of Zander's evaluation. The one word that kept coming up over and over and over was amaze in all it's forms, he's doing amazing, we're amazed, look at the look of amazement, etc. To put it quickly, they were all "amazed" at how well he is doing for a little boy who has only been with us for 6 weeks, home for 4 weeks, walking for 6 weeks, talking for 4 weeks and on and on. They said they have evaluated many many adopted children over their combined 50 years and have never seen a child so well adjusted. He will need some therapy with motor skills, etc., but they were very please with where he is at especially socially : )

I would also like to fill you in on his specialists to date. We visited Dr. Balzer on the 6th. He is Zander's cardiologist at Children's Hospital. They did his initial work-up and then did an ECG & an EKG. Both tests came out clear. All surgery for his little heart he had in China was done well and nothing further needs to be done. Dr. Balzer said there is no reason to see him except for yearly checks and if we see something we are concerned. Praise the only Lord who can use a mere man to perform miracles to help save the life of a child, our child.

The next specialist he saw was Dr. Tychesen, also at Children's Hospital. This doctor specializes in ophthalmology. There was a large concern over whether Zander had either cross eyes or lazy eyes. Well after 3 hours, the conclusion was in, he has neither. He has what is called pseudostrabismus. Short definition. He has a broad nose bridge and a bit of extra skin on the inside portion of his eye. Both of these combined make it to where you cannot see the white of the inside portion of his eye which gives the illusion that he has cross/lazy eye. Another Praise the Lord!

There are many specialists to be seen, but the major ones have happened. We'll keep you updated as we go. I won't boggle your mind with more writing, I'll give you what you like the most and what tells the story the most, pictures! Thank you for reading through the muck and hopefully it won't be another month before the next update.


My First USA Haircut

I had to see if there was any hair on the sucker.

My friend and aunt Savannah.

My first Illinois shirt from Grandma Talbott!

My playmates Aunt Sophia & Cousin Julien.

My playmate Aunt Kalya!

Playmate Aunt Sophia

Uncle Richie (aka brother Richie) and Aunt Sophia

Good Buddy Cousin Julien

Having fun outside with my family : )

Running from Richie!

Body slam, I win Richie!

Richie seems asleep for Aunt Kalya.

What a smiley boy!

Sharing the love with Richie & Kalya.

Papa Art shows me his donkey, he has a soft nose.

Zander got to see papa's goats, geese & ducks also.

Zander riding Pooh, when he saw the miniature horse he barked thinking it  was a dog : )

Zander got to play with papa's toys from Hawaii. Here's the tambourine.

Zander played with all papa's toys.

Playing the Hawaiian drum

Getting toted by dad in the feed wagon.

Papa Art knows how to get me to sit on his lap, pretzels!

Yummm says me and papa.

Grandma Judy makes the best tea.

Lucy didn't know what to do with Zander, but she wasn't sharing her bed!

Zander finally let Aunt Lisa hold him, Uncle Dan wasn't feeling well.

More of grandma's great tea.

My first push pop, I'm in LOVE!


Richie & I love being boys.

Watching videos with my plumber dad, hmmm do I look like a plumber dad?

Zander & mom in our first school at Tot Time with new friends.

Tot Time at the library.

Sep 2, 2012

St. Louis Zoo - Zander's 1st Visit

St. Louis, MO has an awesome zoo and we are within just a few minutes from there. When we were in Zhengzhou we visited a zoo and were very disappointed and he was not thrilled with it at all. We started off with the Children's Zoo, I though he'd like to pet the goats. NOPE, the goats just stood there, he stood there, they stared at one another and he turned around and wanted to leave. OK, on to the next part. He did laugh at the roosters though! Next was the Guinea pigs, the climbing tree house, the  meerkats, the pop up water spouts, etc. NO GO!

Finally I found THE thing he liked best! The corn dog! He wasn't quite sure what to do with it, he started laughing after his first bit and saw there was something inside and just like a typical guy, after it was all gone, he chewed on the stick (like a toothpick) for an hour. After the corn dog things perked up. The stingrays were a lot of fun, he loved sticking his hand in the water and as soon as one would get close, he'd giggle and pull his hand back.
1st Corn dog

Zander sporting his new 1st visit at the zoo hat.

Goat Petting.
Petting the Stingrays.

Love that smile.
The new sea lion exhibit was superb! Walking under the water and seeing the sea lions swim is so great. Zander didn't want to leave this area so we ended up here over 20 minutes with giggles of wonder and him trying to touch the sea lions through the glass. Next was the sea lion show, he was more interested in the big straw and the little kids behind us though UNTIL the sea lion came right beside him and started barking. Mr. Mimic barked until the show was over, he was given the frisbee the sea lion threw also.

The amazing new sea lion exhibit.

Water is so much better through a BIG straw.

Really close to the sea lion.

We ended the day with the traditional picture of the hippo. Every one of our kids and grandkids have had their picture taken inside this hippos mouth. The train wrapped up the day and lulled him into a trance. He was asleep before we left the parking lot! I haven't been at the zoo alone with one of our kids in over a decade and we will definitely be going alone over and over.

Traditional hippo shot.
Mama & Zander riding the train.