Friday, November 18, 2011

Hidden Treasure

Our sweet and priceless treasure. . . Mei Li :)

I have no idea who really reads our blog unless they post comments, but my hope is that through telling our story we not only use our blog as a way to update our friends and family of our personal journey. . . But, that it also serves as a place for other adoptive families (or soon to be :) to find encouragement, helpful information and inspiration.

People come to adopt from different places. . . for many, infertility is a part of their journey, desperation, heartbreak, loss, a calling. . . For us, we struggled with disappointment with not getting pregnant again after our first daughter. But, I can honestly say that we were not desperate. Disappointed is a better word to describe where we were 4 years ago. But, I was ready to pursue my music, and we were "about" ready to take the next step in our personal and professional lives. . . and just were thankful for the wonderful child God had already given us. For us, adoption was not "our only hope" to fill a void in our family and hearts with a child. It was not about us doing something to meet "our" need. It was our response to God's call on our family. Although, many people come to adopt a child from different "emotional and personal" places. . . and one "place" is not better than another as long as homeless children and loving families are brought together. . . our story is one of submitting to God, hearing His voice, and responding in faith. And, now that our Mei Li is here. . . we find that our family is "greatly blessed" by her being one of us. We are all the better for her presence in our lives and family. We say our "thanks" every single day for her. And, we can not imagine our family without her! And, that's just the truth! :)

Many people believe that the only people who adopt are the wealthy. And, I can attest that that assumption is not true. We are a very middle class family that clips coupons and cuts corners to get the bills paid each month. But, adoption, (unfortunately), is a costly process. It is . . . and that is the frustrating truth. My hope is that "the cost" of the adoption process will be brought down to make adoption more accessible to loving families in the future. People with more resources may find the adoption process easier, in that the financial burden of it is not an issue. But, many people of varying financial means find ways to make it happen. And, I say that to encourage those who may think adoption is impossible due to its cost. It frustrates me when uninformed people ask "how much did your child cost?" Although, I understand that they mean no harm and are "really" asking how much the process costs. But, the process. . . and every person involved in the process of bringing a child together with his/her family has to be paid for the job they do. So, what does it cost?? A ballpark figure for the cost of an international adoption starts around 20-25K. It goes up from there depending on the country and how many international trips you are required to make to complete the adoption process. To put that figure in terms most of us can really wrap our brains around. . . it is about the same financial investment as when you purchase a new car. NOT to say that "a car" and a living, breathing child are anywhere near the same in value. And, the beauty of investing in the life of a child. . . is that "many" lives are forever changed (including yours :), and a "child" never depreciates in value! :)

So, how does an average person afford the process of adoption? I strongly encourage adoptive families to apply for grants, do creative fundraisers, yard sales, trim their budgets to cut out"extras" and put that money into an adoption fund. There are always ways to help meet the financial burden. And, we honestly should have done "more" of that looking back. Besides these, there are always loans. But, I recommend working hard to raise the funds and apply for grants before you go into debt. Not only will you have the cost of the adoption process, but if you adopt a child with medical special needs, there will be medical co-pays and bills that will be a reality once you get home. So, do not be ashamed to apply for grants or do fundraisers on the front-end. These can serve to greatly ease the financial burden that will fall on the family once you're home with your precious child and the bills start coming in and surgeries are on the calendar. These options that are "available" with some sweat and hard work make "adoption" a reachable possibility for many more loving and deserving families. . . and the lives of many more children will be changed forever as a result. And, that is WORTH IT!! :)

Today, I was having my quiet time and reading scripture. I came upon Matthew 13: 44-45, the parable of "Hidden Treasure and the Pearl". It says, "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

Again, the kindgom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. Wen he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it."

What a "treasure" we now have in our Mei Li. She is more valuable to us than gold or jewels. And, the sacrifices that we had to make to bring her to us were absolutely worth it. . . and we are all "the better" because of her. And, all who meet our Mei Li would, undoubtedly, agree.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Taking it "one day at a time". . . all in stride. :)

Mei Li's surgery on her little ankle was last Friday. And, as usual, she has amazed us with her resilience and "roll-with-the-punches" spirit. She hardly complained at all after her surgery. We kept expecting the pain meds to wear off and the pain to hit! It just never happened. The day of surgery, we were sent home at lunch time. She was very groggy and nauseous. She couldn't keep down anything she tried to eat. And, we stuck to liquids only. It all came back up. She slept most of the afternoon, and at bedtime she slept all night long. By the time Saturday morning rolled around, she was back to about 85% normal spirit and the twinkle in her eyes was back!! She did complain very mildly of pain in her leg. This child rarely complains of any kind of pain, so I take it seriously when she tells me something hurts---and I KNEW she should be hurting after that surgery. I was prepared to deal with the problem of "lots of pain". But, it turned out, the problem lay with "how little" she complained of pain. And, every time I tried to get her to wiggle her toes, she couldn't do it. And, every time I would tickle her toes or pinch them. . . or even hold an ice cube on them. . . she had no idea I was doing anything to her unless she saw me do it. So. . . our Mei Li has no feeling in her little foot. And. . . she has begun to touch her lower back where the fatty tumor is and say, "Ow!!" She has never complained of it hurting her before. But, for the last 3 days, she has told me that it hurts. . . not her leg. I'm just not sure what to make of it. I am definitely concerned. I took her back in to the orthopedic surgeon for a recheck. He took her cast off and examined her. The surgical site looks great, the blood flow is perfectly fine, her foot is warm. . . He suggested that it "might" be the meningocele on her back causing neuropathy in her foot. We don't see the neurosurgeon until Monday, and I am very eager to have his assessment of our little Mei Li.

In the meantime, we are enjoying every minute with both of our girls. My mother said it best. "Mei Li has a way of making herself "at home" wherever she is. And, she has a way of making everyone around her smile". She is truly a ray of sunshine. And, that is true even with all the doctor appointments, specialist appointments, castings and surgery. She takes everything in stride, rolls with it, adjusts herself to each new hurdle that comes along. . . and keeps going!!! With a smile and a giggle, I might add. Such a victorious spirit! If it is true that angels walk this earth, and sometimes humans are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend to one, then I am convinced Mei Li has wings hidden somewhere. She teaches all of us something new every day.
I am trying to learn from Mei Li's approach to life, and take everything "in stride". One step at a time. God has a big plan for Mei Li's life. Or, He wouldn't have gone to such lengths to connect her to a family an entire world away. And, although I want to be sure we do "everything in our power" to provide her with the medical care she needs to make her body healthy and whole, I am trying not to panic when things don't go just right. When a new obstacle pops up in our path, just like our Mei Li works around and overcome every obstacle that she encounters, we will take a minute, assess our options. . . and make a new game plan. Regardless of whether the feeling returns to her foot or not. . . Mei Li's life and health has changed "for the better" now that she has the love of her forever family, her new home in America and a team of doctors and specialists tending to her medical needs.

Please continue to lift her up in your prayers. And, thank you for following!