Saturday, November 12, 2011

More Steps to Success!

Mei Li taking a wagon ride to the car after her surgery. That green popsicle was like a security blanket. She didn't care to eat much of it, but wanted to "hold" it. :)

Sleeping peacefully in her own bed after her surgery and wearing her Bravery Bracelet that her Mama B gave her.

Friday, 11-11-2011, was a big day for our Mei Li. Dr. Khorey operated on her Achilles Tendon and removed old scar tissue from her little ankle. Her little foot popped perfectly into place, and is now casted for 4 weeks while it heals. Then, our Mei Li will be in day and night braces for about 1 month. After that. . . our little girl should be able to walk "normally"!!!!

Mei Li did beautifully the day of the surgery. She was NOT happy being at the hospital, and the nurses and docs that entered her room wearing scrubs before the procedure were not warmly welcomed by her. She has had experiences in hospitals in China earlier in her life, and something tells me they were not ones that left good impressions. . . especially given our Mei Li's good nature and propensity for loving everyone she meets. She clearly does "not" love people wearing hospital fatigues. . . with one exception. . . her Daddy!! :) They gave her Versed to relax her and make her "not care". But, when it was time for the nurse to wheel her down the hall to surgery, Versed or no Versed. . . she was crying for Mama. I wanted to be with her so badly. You see, our Mei Li was abandoned in a children's hospital waiting room in Shanghai. We went to her "finding spot" while we were in China. It was not a nice hospital like the ones we have here. It made me very sad to think she was left there. . . But, I admire her birth mother for having the courage and the wisdom to take her to a place where she would surely be found and have an opportunity to get her medical needs met. I applaud her for taking the chance of getting caught in an effort to give her daughter a "chance" for hope and a future. I wish her birth mother could know that she is in America, is deeply loved by her forever family and is having her medical needs taken care of. I'm sure she must go to bed at night wondering if her baby girl she left in that cold, gray waiting room ever found a family? Ever received medical attention for her little turned-in foot? Or, for the fatty tumor on her spine? Is she happy? Is she healthy? Is she loved by someone? Does she have a good future ahead of her? I wish Mei Li's birth mom could know that the answer to each one of those questions is an emphatic "YES"!! There is no way for her to ever know that on this earth, since there are no records of birth parents for children abandoned. So, I will pray that Mei Li's birth mom will know in her heart and have a peace that only the Holy Spirit can provide to give her the assurance that she did the "right thing" for her baby girl 4 years ago in that Shanghai hospital.
In the meantime, we have one big surgery down!! And, Dr. Khorey seemed very pleased with how it went. Mei Li still does not have feeling in her toes at this point, but they gave her a nerve block in her ankle for her surgery. So, we believe that is why she is not showing signs of "feeling" yet. In the next day, she should be able to wiggle her toes and "feel" again.

On the 21st, we have an appointment with the neurosurgeon to assess the meningocele on her lower back. I have a suspicion that there will be another surgery and hospital stay required for that. I dread her having to experience another hospital visit, but I am so thankful we live in a place where Mei Li can get primo medical care and have her needs met by such amazing doctors. She is a resilient little girl, and she'll make it through.

And, coming out on the other side of the surgeries. . . Mei Li's life will be forever changed!! And, as for her future?. . . the sky is the limit!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What I'm Thankful For. . .

I've been thinking much, lately, about all I have to be "thankful" for. The Lord has carried our family through the most amazing journey of our lives, and it continues to grow better every day. Now, I'm not saying that it is never "tough". . . but, I am saying that it is always "Great" and absolutely "worth it"!! Our family and our hearts have been richly blessed by our Mei Li----and I am thankful for the family that we now are because she is with us. But, there is more to it. And, I want to share. :)

I am thankful for disappointment. There were many years of disappointment in our adoption journey. There were SO many delays along the way. There were changed courses. We started our paperwork in fall of 2007 with our hearts set on China (healthy child adoption). After learning how "incredibly long" the wait would be (4-5 years), we changed to Taiwan. Taiwan seemed to promise a much shorter wait, a younger child, foster care situation (better. . . ). So, we had our social worker write up all of our homestudy material in winter of 2008 for Taiwan (last second. . . instead of China). By the time all "t's" were crossed and our homestudy was approved through all the government offices, it was September 2008. And, we finally went on the waitlist in Taiwan. We sat on that waitlist for 2 grueling years. The program turned out to "not" be what we had hoped. It fizzled, the agency handling that program dropped the ball and there was no communication. . . and we sat in a adoption desert wasteland of silence for 2 years. There were many times, I wondered if I had mis-heard God's voice during that period. But, I knew I had not. I HAD HEARD His call on our family so clearly. . . and it had been confirmed. So why this dead-end?
It was during this 2 years that I began recording my album, "Dancin' on the Wind" of jazz standards. And, it was during these 2 years that God showed me that I was a song writer. My jazz album wasn't completed before there were 4 original songs that God had given me over the course of the recording journey. The Lord knows how much music means to me. It is my passion and my love--and during this adoption desert--He gave me the desires of my heart, in a BIG way--with music. I would never have had the time or opportunity to discover I was a song writer and embrace my music in the way that unfolded if our adoption had moved faster. As a result of that 2 year adoption barren wasteland, "Dancin' on the Wind" was born, and the Lord gave me my lifelong heart's desire in the way of music. I am forever thankful that He loves me enough to give me a gift that I didn't even know to ask for.
Two days before the "birth" of my album on September 14, 2010, we had a meeting with our social worker, at her suggestion, to talk with her about China Special Needs adoption. She felt badly that our journey was taking so long. . . and all of our homestudy and medicals were expiring and were going to have to be redone. So, she asked us to pray about it and come in to learn about the SN program in China. We met with her on the 14th of September. Before we left her office, we already had our hearts open to SN adoption (something that we had shied away from early on in the process). . . and right before we walked out the door to pray "some more" about whether to change to China SN, she brought out Mei Li's file to show us an example of what a medical file looked like on a China SN adoption. She told us that she was not pushing this particular child on us. . . she knew we were thinking of adopting a younger child. But, that she "was" available if we were interested. We saw her face and Geoff and I both caught our breath at the same moment. We knew we were looking at the face of our daughter. There was Mei Li, and we "knew" it!
September 16th 2010 became an incredible day for me personally, and for our family. Two days after our meeting with Karla, and after seeing the face of that sweet angel, Sun Xianmei, in the medical file, and "the very same day of the birth of my album", we received a call from Dr. Jennifer Chambers from UAB's International Adoption Clinic to review Mei Li's medical. Her overall assessment. . . GO GET THIS BABY GIRL!!!!! So, two hours before the "birth" of my album, we experienced the "birth" of our daughter as well. I will tell you that when I arrived to Moonlight on the Mountain that evening to hold my album release, there was a sweetness in the air unlike any I had ever experienced before. But, amazingly, it is a sweetness I now experience regularly. . . The birth of two beautiful blessings in our lives. . . all at the same time!
So, for those of you experiencing difficult times in your adoption journey. Delays, derailments, broken hearts, frustrations. . . We" TOO" experienced all of those things, but the end result was something so perfect and timed "JUST SO". And, looking back, God's hand was in control of every step. If anything had gone differently, we would not have been matched with "this" little angel we call our daughter. And, the thought of that is something I can't consider for even one second! God was preparing us for our Mei Li (who was not eligible for adoption when we began our journey). He was preparing our hearts to take a leap of faith and go the route of a SN adoption (and we needed some work on us, first, to bring our hearts in agreement there). He was planning to complete a beautiful work in me through music. And, the timing of the birth of the album and the birth of our daughter "into our lives" happening on the very same day CAN NOT BE a coincidence. Just further evidence that the Lord was in charge of it all. :)

September 19, 2011 is a day our family will never forget. It is the day Mei Li was placed in our arms for the first time!! After beginning our adoption paperwork in September of 2007, it took us 4 years to arrive to this amazing day. I still sit here pinching myself, hoping that I will never awake from this beautiful dream. Mei Li has blessed our lives in such a rich way. I thank God every day that He did not give in to my pleas and cries and complaints during the 4 years we waited for our daughter. If He had listened to me, we would have missed out on one of the the greatest blessings we have ever known. . . the honor of becoming a family to our little Mei Li.