Another Medical Update

This is an update on some of James’ medical stuff, but I’ll just let you know now that the ending is To Be Continued…

I mentioned last time that James had one abnormality in his thyroid test, so the pediatrician requested that we bring him back in after 6 weeks for another blood test. The results came back with his TSH still slightly elevated (this time 2 points high instead of 1), but all other thyroid tests were normal and antibody levels were normal. This means that he has mild or subclinical hypothyroidism. My online research shows that there is some disagreement among doctors about how, or if, this should be treated, but we’ve been referred to the endocrinology department at Children’s in Seattle so that the experts can take a look at him and his results. So we’ll let you know how that goes, but I’m still waiting on a call.

Now my friends on fb got to see some adorable photos of James today as he visited pediatric cardiology for an echocardiogram and EKG, so I wanted to let everyone know how that went. You may guess that the results weren’t perfect because I wouldn’t need to bother with a post for it if everything had been fine. We’ve had absolutely no indication that he has any heart issues, so I was very surprised to hear that he does, in fact, have a few heart defects. Before I go further, I want to make sure no one is panicking. The doc said that his heart seems to be working pretty well despite the defects. I was going to try and describe the defects, but I’ve learned today that Google is no replacement for a medical degree. ;) He has a couple valves that aren’t formed properly, so they let a little blood go the wrong direction. Another reason that I can’t describe this well to you is that even the cardiologist was having a hard time describing it. There are two reasons for this: 1. The echo wasn’t clear enough in some areas. 2. His heart seems to have tried to heal itself. Do we need any more proof that James is an amazing little guy? He has a little miracle heart! There was an area that she said seems to have had a hole, but one of his valves moved down somehow and blocked the hole and keeps blood from leaking into the wrong chamber. The doc was pretty impressed. So we’ve been referred to Children’s again to get an echo on a machine meant for little hearts and also maybe a tech that works with children every day. I’m sure the tech today was great, but James’ chest wall is shaped a little strangely and made her job harder. Plus, we all know that the staff at Children’s are just rockstars at their jobs since children are their specialty. So for now the doc said not to worry (easier said than done) because it looks as though the issues are things that will just require him to be monitored annually to make sure the leaks don’t get bigger. She just needs to see a better echo to make sure that hole really is blocked completely and that the leaks aren’t worse than she thinks, so we would appreciate prayers about those things because it would obviously be wonderful to avoid heart surgery. I know I didn’t really use the correct medical jargon here, but you know how none of that really sticks in your head when you get news that is a little overwhelming. I didn’t freak out or anything, but we did have comfort food for dinner that did not require use of my brain (pizza).

James is also having his evaluations this week to find out if he qualifies for pediatric therapy with the school district, but I’ll go over that another time. I think we’ve all got enough info swimming around our brains for now. :)

And I’ll go ahead and share the adorable photos from today for those that aren’t on fb. They’re just too cute!

 

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He was all smiles after the echo. The techs are always impressed by how well he handles these procedures.

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During the EKG. I don’t even know what this face was about, but it was pretty cute.

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He got to watch Winnie the Pooh during the echo. He got a little restless toward the end, but his version of restless looks quite calm compared to most 4 year olds.

Medical Update

Some of you with spectacular memories may remember a post way back in May when I mentioned that James’ pediatrician had a minor concern about his health at his first appointment with her. So I finally got him back to Bellevue to have some testing done (2.5 months later… ahem, bad mama moment). At the first appointment his doctor noted that his fontanel (soft spot) isn’t completely closed, and she said this can be in indication of a thyroid issue. This is one of many health concerns that is very common in children with Down syndrome. There have also been a few other indications that he may have a problem with his thyroid, such as sweating all the time and eating insane amounts of food without gaining any weight. Anyway, he had his blood drawn, and the results did come back a tad high on one of the thyroid tests. Since it was only 1 point high, the doctor said we won’t worry about it too much for now. I’ll take him back in 6 weeks (for real) to have his blood tested again and to have him weighed and measured to make sure he’s growing. They’re also going to test his antibodies, and I’ll save you a trip to Google since I already looked it up to find out that they’re doing this to see if his body is making antibodies against his own thyroid tissue. And on a side note, James did really well during the blood draw. He didn’t make a peep or move a muscle when they put the needle in. The phlebotomist said that she wished her kids were that quiet. Hmmm, maybe she needs some kids that don’t speak English…

We also visited the ophthalmologist to have his eyes checked out since kids with Down syndrome are prone to various issues with their eyes. This visit didn’t actually go very well. People often ask me how much James understands when we talk to him, and I think I was overestimating his comprehension. He seems to know what we want, but maybe he’s just very good at reading our hand signals and body language. When we were sitting in the chair to have his eyes checked, it became very clear that he had no idea what they were asking him to do. They wanted him to match the images they were showing on the wall to the paper in our hands, but he didn’t get it. He would copy me and the nurse when we did it, but he would never do it on his own. I think his wonderful ability to imitate has also been fooling me as to how much he really gets what I’m saying. They decided to just do the test they use for infants because that one didn’t rely him on following directions. They held up these big gray rectangular cards with a square on one end with black and white stripes. Your eyes automatically go to the square if you can see it, and the stripes get smaller and smaller as they flip through the cards. James eyes stopped recognizing the squares before mine did, but they said the test isn’t as accurate as the other. The doctor came in and did some tests, and she thinks he may have slight astigmatism (saving you another trip to Google… that means at least one of his eyes is not completely round). I’m sure that I looked ridiculous as I was holding James in my lap. You know how you open your mouth really wide when you’re feeding a baby? I was doing the same thing with my eyes behind James every time she told him to open his eyes. He couldn’t even see me, and I was sitting there with my eyes as wide as they’d go. She said there’s a good chance that he’ll need glasses since about 50% of kids with Down syndrome need glasses, but that’s okay because I think he’ll look adorable in glasses, don’t you? She gave us 2 copies of the images that they use to flash on the wall, so we’re going to practice at home so that he can go back in 6 months and try that test again. Since the issue doesn’t seem to be major, she’s not concerned about him going another 6 months without glasses.

The pediatrician also wants us to get him in to get his ears checked and a cardiac exam as well since, once again, kids with Down syndrome are prone to those medical issues. It’s actually estimated that 50-60% of kids with DS have some sort of hearing loss. After calling the audiology department, I’ve decided to wait on that test for a bit I think because they said he does need to be able to follow their directions, and it seems as though he’s not quite ready for that. As for the cardiac visit, the pediatrician didn’t hear anything wrong with his heart, but since 40-60% of kids with DS have heart defects, she just thought it would be a good idea to get him checked out.

As for his general well-being, James is still doing really well. The thing we’re working on now is his over-the-top possessiveness. Of course it’s not okay for the kids to take toys away from each other, but he often won’t even give the toys to me and Joel when we ask (and just for the record, we’re not taking the toys away just for fun. It’s usually because we’re going out or it’s bedtime or something like that). He cries so hard anytime we have to take something away from him. The tears just roll down his face like we’ve broken his little heart. It’s so sad, but of course he needs to learn that he needs to listen to us when we ask him to let go. Okay, I do occasionally take a toy away just because I’m about to lose my mind (he gravitates toward toys that play obnoxious tunes over and over and over again), but when that happens, I do replace it with another (silent) toy. Oh, and he has started saying “mommy” and “daddy.” That was pretty exciting for us since it’s 2 different syllables and seems like a pretty big step in his language development.

He also has a tendency to perform random acts of hugging, but I’m not sure if that’s something we need to work on or not. He will see someone, get really excited (like he knows them), and then run up and throw his arms around their legs in a big hug. The men he’s done that to have actually reacted much better than the women, and I find it a little surprising. The men usually say something like, “Oh, hi, buddy. Nice to see you too!”

And here are photo updates like I promised in my last post; apparently I have a very loose definition of “soon.” ;) I apologize that most of these are repeats for my fb friends.

 

 

 

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Rocking his MOD tattoos! The ladies at the doctor’s office said he should be a model. :)

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One of my favorite photos from the lake. It just brings me joy to think of James enjoying the outdoors since he came from a big, congested, and smoggy city.

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James’ first Father’s Day! His daddy loves him; that’s for sure!

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James loves his big cousin, Hunter. And Hunter is sweet enough to carry him everywhere, even though he is not a light kid!

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James’ first Independence Day!

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This is how we celebrate freedom in America… with sugar!

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I love this one. James with my dad, his grandpa.

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James started doing his happy dance when he saw Chinese food at the farmer’s market. I just had to get him a bbq pork bun after he got so excited.

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Just because there’s nothing much cuter than kids in hooded towels. :) He was actually running around and didn’t want to take the towel off to get dressed.

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We weren’t sure how he’d react to his first pony ride, but he was giggling with glee. Definitely a success!

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We went to visit Thomas the Train, and James loved it. He wouldn’t even turn around for the photo. (Both boys have Thomas boots.)

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First home haircuts! James’ was actually kinda tricky because he has a very interesting hairline. It starts a couple inches above his ears.

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Kids with Down syndrome are typically quite flexible. I’ve always failed to get a photo of him chewing on his toes in the car, but I did get one of him sleeping in pretzel form.

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The guys whose legs are sticking out in the background was a recipient of one of James’ big hugs. He was really nice about it.

 

FAQ’s About Life With James

I get asked the same questions on a regular basis, so I thought I’d cover some of those here for those that don’t have the pleasure of living near us. ;)

How’s James doing?

Great! It may sound as though I’m just giving the easy answer when I say this, but he truly is doing so well. We’re starting to see his personality come out even more, and it’s a lot of fun. I think I mentioned that the orphanage called him “the manager,” and we’re definitely seeing those tendencies now. When Evan and Brenna (mostly Evan) aren’t listening, James starts clapping his hands and motioning for them to come over with a very stern look on his face. It’s quite cute. He is really an easy kid. I’ve told several friends that I could easily adopt 20 more if they were just like James (ya know if I also had $600,000).

He also is crying a little more often but not too much. Some of you may be wondering why crying more would be a good thing, and it’s because kids living in orphanages tend to not cry because they learn that no one will come. James was from a “good” orphanage, but I imagine he just knew that his needs would be met on the regular schedule and crying wasn’t going to change that. It occurred to me that we visited the orphanage and stood in a room full of toddlers starting naptime, and we didn’t hear a peep. How many of you with preschoolers or toddlers encounter silent naptimes? I know we don’t here! I’m glad that James knows that we care enough to answer his cries.

We’re also seeing progress in his physical abilities, and I think he’s gaining confidence in what he can do here. I kind of wonder if maybe he just didn’t have a lot of experiences in China that really tested him physically. He will now walk on grass, gravel, and rocks, but he wouldn’t when he first came home. He has learned to climb up into the car and car seat on his own as well as his booster seat at the dinner table. He can do stairs on his own (he fell down the stairs a few times in his first days here). It’s really amazing how much of a difference 10 weeks has made! He even jumped off an ottoman in our home the other day, and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen him jump. It didn’t go very well, but I’m so proud that he tried. There’s a funny video of that one on facebook.

Does he speak English?

He does not say much, but he does seem to understand a lot of what we’re saying. The words he has learned are: no (with a finger wag), hi (with a wave), mom, uh oh, he learned Da and Dad the week before Father’s Day, and he seems to make the same noise every time he would be saying thank you. That may not seem like much, but keep in mind that he only came to us saying, “Ma” and “Mama.” He has made huge strides in 10 weeks! Joel also says that James says, “Let go,” but I haven’t heard that one yet.

How is the sleeping going?

Well, this is the roughest spot for us. We started separating the boys for naps and at bedtime, so James sleeps in our room until we go to bed. His foster mom said that he was a good sleeper, but we haven’t really seen that yet. Either she lied, or her room was far away from his. ;) He is just a very restless sleeper, and he makes groaning noises as he’s falling asleep and waking up. I left him in our bed for awhile last night because sleeping kids are usually so sweet, but it was like sleeping next to a hurricane with arms and legs. I finally gave up and moved him back to his bed because I didn’t want to wake up with bruises from head to toe (because he kicks as he spins a 360). I’m praying his sleeping will improve some day, but I know that some kids just never sleep very well.

How’s he eating?

Like a linebacker! If we let him, he will eat more than me and Joel combined, and he isn’t picky at all. Okay, he doesn’t seem to like cheeseburgers much, but he’s down with everything else. I had to ask the doctor how to handle meals so that he doesn’t end up weighing 500 pounds, and she said to give him regular preschooler-sized portions of everything and then he can eat fruits and vegetables for as long as he wants.

How are Brenna and Evan doing with their new brother?

They love him. Brenna especially enjoys having another brother. When she sees people, she tells them, “I have a new brother. My mom and dad went and got him.” We saw a photo of a little girl from China, and she asked, “Are you going to go get her too?” I said, “Do you want me to?” She said, “Yes!” Evan loves James too, but also loves to torment him in standard little brother style. He will hold onto James or tackle him and that sort of thing. James is not a fan of that at all. I try not to intervene too much because I want James to learn to just walk away instead of waiting for one of us to fix it.

There  is another question that I get on a regular basis that isn’t necessarily specific to James, but I’ll include it here anyway.

Are you done having kids?

My answer to this is that I have no answer. If you’ve read the early parts of this blog, you may remember that we started out not sure if we’d have kids, then we were going to have one but Joel was done, then we had 2 and were both DEFINITELY done, and then we adopted James. With that as our history, I can’t very well say that we won’t add any more to our family. I’m leaving that up to God at this point because it’s never really been up to us anyway. That being said, Joel’s answer to this question is, “Yes!” I’m not so sure. When God brought the thought of adoption into my life, He did it by breaking my heart for these kids. I can’t say that I’d be content for the rest of my life if I stopped here. I know that I can help in other ways, but there are just so many children that need homes. I’m tearing up right now thinking about it. Anyway, I’m praying about it always, and I hope you will too.

So I guess that’s all for now. I usually post some photo updates, but I’m tired after trying to sleep next to Hurricane James last night and it’s hot in here! I’ll do a photo post soon.

Making Memories

Okay, this post is at least two weeks overdue, but we’ve been busy with some very important stuff. The first thing that I wanted to share with everyone is that we are calling off the cocoon. That’s also the part that is overdue since we decided this a couple of Sundays past. I am very happy to share this will all of you since I know I still have some friends that freeze in fear when they see James coming as they try to recall what they are and are not allowed to do. I officially release you from any restrictions. Yahoo! Actually, let me just say that you shouldn’t pick him up if he doesn’t want you to (unless it’s a safety issue), and please don’t give him food still without asking us first. The reason for the former is that it seems like a good practice to let kids know that they are in control of when and how other adults make contact with them, and that they have a right to say, “No.” As for the latter, we are supposed to be watching his diet right now and need to be aware of what he is eating. You are welcome to give him fruits and vegetables as much as you want, but I’ve noticed that most people offering my kids food aren’t offering veggies. And you know, go ahead and apply these rules to all my kids. :)

We feel okay calling off the cocoon (I can’t wait to be done with this term) because it’s become pretty clear that James is quite bonded to us. The event that made this most obvious to me was a going away party 3 Sundays ago. It was 60 or so people, with kids easily outnumbering adults, and we were mostly crowded in the house due to the rain. It would be an understatement to say that it was a little chaotic, but James did great. He was making the rounds interacting with people, but he would come find me every once in awhile for a hug. He would lift his arms up to me, and after a brief hug, he would be on his way again. That was just a confirmation to me that he understands that he belongs with us. He wasn’t shopping around for new, cooler parents. He just needed to know that I was still there, and then he was content to go play and have fun.

So what have we been so busy doing that I haven’t had time to write? Making sweet memories! I’ve shared this before I think, but I don’t expect everyone else to remember what I’ve written when I can’t even remember most of the time. Part of the reason I wanted to have kids was because I had such a happy childhood, and I really wanted to share that experience with kids of my own. These past couple of weeks I was really trying to think about the best memories and what it was that made my childhood something that I remember with such fondness. I realized that it wasn’t the big moments that stuck in my mind but the small moments that were grounded in love. I thought of camping with my family and fishing with my dad, road trips to Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone (and I apologize, Mom and Dad, if you remember us fighting because I only remember the fun), playing at Grandpa and Grandma’s farm, picking fresh mint at Grandpa and Grandmother’s and watching old Hayley Mills movies, Grandma combing the beaches with us and teaching us how to pick up crabs without getting pinched, and so many other small moments that just showed me how much my family loved me. The happiest times were the ones when we were together as a family doing things that weren’t about spending lots of money. Since we’ve gotten married, Joel and I have done many “big” vacations, but we’ve taken a break from that in the last year as we were saving up for and now still paying off adoption expenses. I realized that our kids will probably never miss those big vacations. They’re going to remember all the fun we’ve had at the local lakes and parks the last few weeks, and I don’t think they’re going to wish we’d gone to Disneyland instead. Most of life is spent in the little moments, and I want to make those count.

 

Here are a few of the things we’ve done in the past 3 weeks:

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Getting his first official haircut as a Smith at Dooz Salon in Bellevue! All of our kids have had their first cuts here, so it’s a family tradition.

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Buying poppies to support the veterans. James did a happy dance!

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James got to visit daddy’s office for the first time. The smile on his face on the bottom two reminded me how much he likes to be out and about. It was a busy day, but he had a fantastic time!

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Visiting the trains and railroad museum in Snoqualmie. Fun, close, and free! My heart melts every time I see my 3 kids holding hands.

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James was frightened to cross this huge bridge, so Evan went back to grab his hand and help him across. It was the sweetest moment! (Sorry for the repeat for those that saw it on fb.)

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Playing at the park in our neighborhood. Why have we not been here in years? They had so much fun walking around the lake and playing with sticks and rocks. Why do we bother with toys?

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I believe these looks roughly translate to, “Stop taking my picture, Mom!!!!”

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James meets his Grandpa Smith for the first time!

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And he got to meet Auntie Steph, Uncle Darren, and the kids too. He loved Uncle Darren!

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And another photo with Grandpa. You may not realize this, but a photo with Grandpa’s face clearly visible is pretty epic.

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Aunt DeAnne took us to the children’s museum in Burlington. We were trying to figure out why they charge for adults too. We’re paying money to watch our kids play and follow them around? Well, it was fun anyway!

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She took us to the Padilla Bay Interpretive Center too.

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And then on to the beach! James got caught in the gross, sticky mud. Yuck.

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We went to Gothberg Farms for some goat cheese, and Evan and James fed the goats. Brenna wouldn’t get closer than 5 feet from the fence. Their sign says not to ask to see the goats, so please don’t tell them that we sent you. Aunt DeAnne sure knows how to show us a good time!! James also loved Uncle Denny; he would crawl up in his lap and kiss his forehead.

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My super heroes! Evan still doesn’t quite have the peace signs down.

4 Weeks Home

Today as I thought about the fact that James has been home with us for 4 weeks, I was struck with feelings of disbelief, awe, and gratitude.

Disbelief stems from the feeling that James has been a part of this family for so much longer than that. Besides the issues with bedtime and naps, his transition here has been fairly easy. I’ve had a harder time adjusting than he has. ;) Before we left for China, I kept trying to talk myself down from unrealistic expectations and dreams of what life would be like with James. Honestly, it has been better than anything I had hoped, and I thank God for lots of sunshine here that has helped tremendously (I can’t imagine how much harder this would have been if we were cooped up in the house all the time).

And I am in awe that God chose us to care for this special boy. It is a heavy responsibility to become the mother of a child born to another woman. I often pray that his birth mother will be filled with a peace, that she will know in her heart that he is being deeply loved and that he has a hope for a future not currently possible in his birth country. I have no doubt that she loved James; it is impossible to know this boy and not love him. I imagine she thinks of him often, and I pray that she will know somehow that her sacrifice was not in vain.

Gratitude doesn’t even cover what I feel for those that supported us every step along the way on our journey to James. So many of you have supported us with prayers, encouragement, and financial gifts, and I can’t even tell you how much it meant to us. The road to adoption is a tough one, and there are always bumps along the way. It built my faith in God and in my friends and family too. I have been blessed beyond measure to know how many outside of our home love James and were anxiously awaiting his arrival!

On that note, I had planned to do a homecoming post once I had the photos and share just a few of them with you all. Then I saw the photos and knew that I could never pick just 5 or 6 to share, so I created a slideshow to share more of them. I still had to cut about 100 photos, and it was tough! I know many of you have seen this, but if you haven’t, please enjoy. Sorry there’s nothing new for those that already saw it…

 

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My beautiful friend, Bre, who took the photos for us. <3

PS- If anyone else wants the shirts we wore home, they are available again for 9 more days: http://steeleadoption.blogspot.com/2014/05/lets-show-them-some-love.html

1 Month As Our Son!

Today is a landmark day for a couple of reasons: we met James 1 month ago today (I’m not going to get all technical about the time change) and James has been home for 3 weeks today. It’s really quite miraculous; if someone unaware of our situation had spent the evening with us, they never would have known that he’s only been a part of our family for a month. They may have had some questions about why a social worker spent the evening with us, but we’ll get to that later. I am so thankful that God found us this sweet (and he is sweet now) and funny boy!

This post may end up being all over the place because this last week spanned a wide variation in emotions. Last Friday I was just done. Ladies, you know how sometimes you’re just ready to cry at the drop of a hat? Well, I was absolutely there, and I did cry. More than once. I cried as I made breakfast, and I cried again when Evan was hysterical a little later (we’re all exhausted). The sweet thing was that even in the middle of my exhausted breakdown, I was reminded that these little ones that drive me crazy are also my greatest joys. As I was lying on the couch in tears, sweet Brenna came over to lightly stroke my face saying, “It’ll be alright, Mama. It’s okay. If you stop crying, you can sleep.” Of course, it doesn’t really work that way for mamas, but her earnest desire to make me feel better had me smiling through the tears. And James never left my side and was holding my hand and giving me kisses on the cheek. Then after Evan had tamed his own tears, he grabbed a gross, dirty dishrag to wipe my face, and Brenna, not to be outdone, went and grabbed another dirty towel to get any tears he missed. So the time I spent crying was probably also the highlight of my day.

Then Saturday, Sunday, and Monday I was sick. I would love to post beautiful photos of my first Mother’s Day with James, but I don’t have any. Joel and the kids went up North to have brunch with my extended family while I stayed home and slept. The kids did pick me some flowers (weeds) from the yard after they got home, but that was the big event. I’m sure I’ll get some lovely photos next year. :) Evan also did make me smile in the middle of misery again. After he heard me throw up, he came to the bathroom door, and said, “Bless you, Mama! Bless you! Are you okay?” So sweet.

Today was a busy day as we had James’ first doctor visit in the US as well as our first post-adoption visit with our Social Worker. (China requires 6 post-adoption visits: 1 month, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, and 5 years.) The appointment with our pediatrician went pretty well. James held onto me as though I were his lifeline, but he allowed the doctor and nurse to do everything they needed to do. The doctor has one possible concern relating to something that is more common with Down syndrome kids, but I won’t talk about that unless it’s confirmed. I don’t know if it’s a big deal or not, but I will say that it’s not anything life-threatening. The visit with our Social Worker also went well, and even more importantly, I was noticing all the ways James is really coming out of his shell more and playing with Brenna and Evan, rather than just quietly beside them. He is often a part of the chase around the living room, and he participates in the tickle fights now. The only awkward moment in the visit was when Brenna said, “I think James is weird.” Knowing her as I do, I knew that she didn’t really mean anything by that because she honestly just likes to talk and often says things just to say something. The Social Worker asked why, and she said, “Because he likes to take baths with bubbles.” Alrighty, we’ve cleared that right up then!

So here’s the part where we go all over the place. I just want to share some things that God showed me this week after I was struggling with my emotions and physical exhaustion.

Monday or Tuesday morning I was running around doing all the things I do for the kids before I make breakfast (potty runs, diaper and clothing changes, and all that), and Brenna said for about the 10th time that morning, “Mama, I am hungry!!!” I stopped what I was doing for the boys, looked her in the eyes, and said, “Brenna, have I EVER not fed you breakfast? Do I EVER let you go hungry? No, I ALWAYS feed you in the mornings after I’m done getting everyone ready. I PROMISE I will feed you as soon as I’m done here.” Then I paused and thought about that for a minute. Do I do that same thing to God? Am I doubting Him and asking Him for things I don’t need to ask for? I realized that I have no reason to believe that God will not provide what I need wherever I am. Has He ever not given me more than I need? Am I resting on His promises and just trusting Him?

He showed me another thing as I was driving James in to his appointment today. I saw myself in the middle of a lake, and I was dog paddling and just struggling to keep my head above water. I saw the panic and the fear that I was just going to slip under the surface. Then I saw a big, open hand just under my kicking feet. In the vision (not like prophetic, but I don’t know what else to call it), I realized I just needed to put my feet down and trust God to hold me up. So I did, and what do you know, I was still in the middle of the lake but standing with my head above water. Sometimes I’m fighting so hard to stay afloat when I don’t need to; all I need to do is put my feet on The Rock.

And the last thing he showed me was that I need to be okay with asking my friends for help. That’s it. Just be humble and grateful and ask for help when I need it. Our church has a ministry to help people out with meals when they need it, but I never asked for their help when we got home. If I had it may have kept me from getting to a point where I broke down mentally and physically. I don’t know if it’s pride or simply that I don’t want to inconvenience my friends, but God is very clearly showing me that I should allow the wonderful people He’s placed in my life to help carry the burden sometimes. I made myself ask for help with a couple of things today, even though I felt awkward doing it, and it really felt great to have the extra support. There are some amazing friends in my life that were more like acquaintances just over a year ago, and I have no doubt that God led me to deeper friendships with them for a reason. And I just want to throw it out there that also have wonderful support from my family, but I rarely have trouble asking them for help. ;) Love you guys!

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Thumbs up for accepting help from friends! Our friends make delicious food.

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Brothers playing together. My heart is smiling.

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James loves to dig in the dirt!

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Fun in the sun! I am so thankful that we’ve had so much sunshine since we’ve been home. James prefers to sit outside the pool, but he still loves playing with the water.

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Licking hummus straight off the plate. Who needs the carrots?? We’re working on table manners. :)

2 Weeks Home

Sometimes the title is the hardest part of the post, so I’m going simple. Joel has basically been gone since Sunday for work, and I am quite tired. In normal time, that wouldn’t be too bad, but in we-just-adopted-and-kids-aren’t-sleeping time, it feels like an eternity. In fact, two of the three are upstairs screaming right now, but since it’s not James, I’m taking a break.

It has been two weeks since we arrived home with James, and I can’t believe it’s been that long at the same time that I feel as though it’s been much longer. When I see James in our family, I forget that he really hasn’t been here that long; he just seems to fit. On the other hand, I look around our house and can’t believe that we’ve been home two weeks and haven’t completely finished unpacking from the trip. And those of you that know us in real life, know that’s all me and not Joel. I just feel as though I need some kid-free time during the day to get things picked up and cleaned, but I’m not allowed to have that time yet.

Speaking of the cocooning, we are definitely being more laidback about it. After going out a few times, I feel as though I can confidently say that he is attached to us and has no interest in picking out a new parent at church or wherever. In fact he’s actually even more clingy outside the home, and I realized why while I was in bed not sleeping last night (James had a rough night). After him holding fast to me at our moms’ group and again when a friend brought me dinner last night (thanks again, by the way), I realized that he doesn’t know yet that we won’t be handing him off to another mom and dad to start life over once again. I’m sure I should have realized it sooner, but we haven’t been out that much yet. He went from an orphanage to foster care for 6 months and then back to the orphanage, so I’m sure he’s thinking still that we’re just another temporary family. And we don’t have a way to tell him otherwise. Once again it just comes down to love. That’s the only way we can show him now that he’s ours. Forever.

As rough as it is, the sleeping situation is actually getting better slowly. I’m hopeful that we’ll be getting a full night’s sleep or close to it in a few more weeks. Please, Lord! There are a couple other issues, but they’re not things that I’ll discuss publicly. We’re kind of the test generation for raising kids in a world of social media, and I try not to post anything that would really embarrass my kids someday or share things that aren’t mine to share. I do share funny stories and photos, but I try to avoid bathroom stories and things like that. I think of how humiliating it would be if someone shared those stories about me and that my kids will be adults one day, and it’s unfair to put all those private things out there when they’re too young to defend themselves. God has given me their hearts to guard while they’re little, and I want to take that responsibility seriously. I don’t want them to resent me when they grow up and find out that I sacrificed their dignity for laughs. I know I probably haven’t always made the right decisions in this area, but I do try to think about it first. Anyway, how about going off on a tangent? Heh heh. Here are some photos of our week (a couple were already posted on facebook… sorry)!

EDITED TO ADD: Wow, this was kind of a downer post, huh?? That was not intentional, especially since things are getting better and better! I’m a pretty optimistic person, so I’m not sure why the negative keeps getting the attention here. I’m adding in some of the progress we’ve made. Starting on Friday, the kids really started playing together more, and it has been wonderful to see. It doesn’t happen all of the time, but I’m sure it will just continue to improve. Actually I think part of the problem is that Evan and Brenna (mostly Evan) aren’t very good at respecting James’ personal space, and he does not like to be crowded right now. That being said, he’s been laughing with them and running around and enjoying his time with them more and more.

 

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Friday was a day of great progress for James and Evan. James sharing his food with Evan is huge!

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If this is how you do Costco with 3 little ones, I guess I won’t be going on my own any time soon.

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We made it to church on Sunday. They were dressed in their Easter best since we missed it here. Love it!

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I was so proud when James learned how to climb up the ladder by himself (with me standing nearby). He wouldn’t do the slide without holding my hand, but I don’t blame him. It’s a pretty fast one!

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Fun in the fort! Evan can’t get the peace sign figured out.

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Today we got some snuggles in the sunshine. Heaven!

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Thanks to Uncle Ryan and Aunt Tara, we now have a play structure that’s a better size for James, and he was able to climb up on his own without a spotter. However, he was not impressed at the way he was dumped off the slide at the bottom.

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Tired boy after a rough night. I kept finding him lying down around the house, and he fell asleep twice in the car this morning while we were running errands.