Thursday, June 28, 2012

Morning of surgery! Shriner's is so giving!

Lily's hip marked for surgery! Yes we will take a new hip!

Lily and her Child life Specialist and my dear friend , Ashley

Lily learning how to use her bionic hip

Day 2 Lily feeling better!

Lily's second surgery: old friends, fezzes, and addictions

Lily had her surgery yesterday here in Shreveport LA on her hip. She was born with a condition called coxa vara of her hip. We didn't even know Lily had this condtion until we got her in China. Daniel noticed one of her hips was higher than the other. She also fell down quite often. And her balance has always been poor.

Last year a nice older gentleman approached me while I was waiting to get Lily and Hope's blood drawn for labwork. He asked about our adoption and asked about Hope's mouth. She hadn't yet gotten her cleft lip and palate fixed. I told him we had selected a surgeon in Dallas when he asked about surgery. Then he looked at Lily and asked me if Lily needed a surgery for anything. I explained that she needed two surgeries and one of them we already had scheduled but we were still looking for a surgeon to fix her hip.

Kenneth Seney then proceeded to tell me that Shriner's Hospital could fix her hip and that they have the finest surgeons. I told him that although I was familiar with Shriner's I didn't think we qualified for acceptance. I can still remember when he told me that no one is ever turned away who they can help medically.

For the next year we have be in awe at the fact of getting such great medical care without a cost to us. Such a rare thing. We have good insurance and my husband works really hard, but last year out of pocket expenses for the three surgeries and Lily's dental work was great. Coming to Shriner's and being so well taken care of is a huge relief and blessing!

Lily's Child Life Specialist is my childhood friend Ashley McMillan. I grew up with Ashley and she was one of my best friends in school. Today when I saw her loving on Lily and checking on her I thought how incredible it was that my dear friend was helping me take care of this little girl we got from thousands of miles away. Ashley is one of the few people I know who are actually working in the profession they got their degree in, and who have a passion for it. She has always been filled to the brim with gentlness, goodness, and compassion. She is perfect for her job and she blesses so many people everyday here at Shriner's.

The surgery was done by Dr. Reinhart who is brand new to Shriners. And guess what her specialty and passion is? Hips! Fun! I told Lily that God picked two people who performed her surgeries who both are the best at what they do and love helping kids! God sure loves Lily Love.

I have always noticed Lily's leg was quite shapely for her age. Now I realize it was because of her hip deformity. It poked out further on her right side. One of the femoral neck bones in her hips didn't form correctly in the womb. Dr. Reinhard inserted a plate and pins into her hip to fix the condition. Today Lily had to begin rehab on her hip and had to do exercises and try to hobble around using a walker. She is going home with a Lily-sized walker and a wheelchair. Johnny is gonna love them!!! We may have to take our annual family photo with them as props. Fun!

It looks like we will go home tomorrow! But in the morning I am going to be interviewed by a local news reporter about Lily's story. I share about Lily and adoption every chance I get, especially if someone specifically asks for more information. Daniel and I have always hoped that our story to adopt Lily and Hope would encourage others to as well. Once you are a part of changing someone's eternal destiny and present day circumstances it's addictive!!! You feel the power of changing someone's life through your obedience to God! And that's why you see so many people go back to get another child. And another. Hey there are WORSE addictions, right??? Like eating toilet paper or drinking monster energy drinks or collecting frog figurines.

My priority tomorrow is to track down some Shriner's for a photo op with Lily! Hat's on to Shriners everywhere!!

Friday, June 22, 2012


Lily update

Lily loves to eat. She thinks about food all day long. If I'm cooking she wants to know if I'm cooking breakfast, lunch or dinner. She asks what I'm cooking next. And tomorrow. When she has a full plate at the table she gets nervous if someone gets a second helping. Her eyes frantically move to every plate on the table trying to sum up who has eaten what. She can't stand it! She asks for more. I say Lily we don't ask for more when we have food on our plate. Lily has eaten so much this first year with us I don't know how she fits it in her body! She is still small but her hips and thighs and belly have filled out. She is proud of this! After a year I've finally started cutting her off and now she realizes when she's full and I think she's no longer afraid she will not get fed. I think!

Her superior doctor Alberto Pena, the most famous and best pediatruc anorectal surgeon in the world, asked me a question a when I was there for her follow up. He said, "Do you want me to tell you how to make it easiest for you and her and for her to have the best results with this surgery?" Duh! No, I didn't say that! I said of course but wondered why he would have to ask that question. He went on to tell me that Lily should eat three meals a day from here on, and no snacks. And that she should eat the same foods each time. That we should get her on such a tight schedule that her bowel movements are on time and predictable.

Now that we've been home for almost half a year from the surgery I realize why he asked me this question. Because its extremely hard to do and probably no one does it and then we all call him telling him all the problems we have had with our children because of what and how much they ate.

When I stick to this rule I feel like the mean old stepmom. And Lily thinks of me that way. And others who hear me refuse her a snack or fruit juice probably feel the same way. So when it's gets bad Husband and I always realize we need to go back to the rule! But think about this rule on weekends, while on vacations, while her friends are eating snack at's hard.

All in all I think Lily has recoverd great from her surgery. Her elimination system is not perfect or normal. She does have accidents and it usually happens after eating certain foods although we have not pinpointed them yet. And most certainly it will happen at Silver Dollar City in the middle of the park when I don't have any extra clothes for her! While we were on vacation I had all my kids eating extra fruit and juice to avoid the dreaded vacation constipation of your kids that can ruin your day! I had Lily eating bread, rice, pasta, and bananas! She was not happy about it but the days I took her off that we spent countless trips back and forth to the bathroom on our beach day.

In the beginning of me and Lily I was always worried about what she thought of me. I was often hurt and offended by her actions to me. It consumed my thoughts! It upset me greatly. Husband would always say, "Honey, don't take it personally. Who cares what she thinks! Just blow it off." And now I tell him that he was right about that. He had such a positive and balanced perspective of our adoption of Lily. From the start. And still does. He loved her wholly from day one and loves her more each day. But he realized that the way she was acting and still even does cannot be taken to heart, as she was just trying to survive and figure out her new life and still is.

Now I parent her just like my other kids. When she begs for juice I say, "Tough. Mommy said no." Just like I'd say to my other kids! And when she pouts and glares at me I let it roll off my back and move on. And you know what? It works. She shakes it off and doesn't take it personal either!

I am extremely independent. I raise my kids to do things for themselves. I don't baby them. So with Lily, even though I know she missed out on the babying when she younger, I just feel like it will create a baby out of her. She is strong and fierce. She will be such a go getter in life. So when she scrapes herself, in the beginning she wouldn't even cry or tell us. Now she will tell me every single little things that happens to her even if I cannot even see the scratch! She doesn't whine or cry but she will come up to me and say with a stoic face, "I hurt myself." I acknowledge it and then play it down.

So it's a constant balance and such of giving her extra loving but not creating a spoiled whiny baby out of her. Which she was neither when we got her so it would be a shame for her to become that.

But every day I realize Lily and I have come so far. And we have a good relationship now. I think it will deepen as she is able to comprehend more deep things such as love and feelings.

The greatest dislike/feels-like-torture to Lily in her new life is bedtime. Every day she tells me outloud what day it is (which is always wrong the first three attempts) and asks me if she has to go to bed early. We have the bedtime schedule written on the wall which I always refer to. Bedtime shifts her into a sulken state when everything bad in her life comes to mind....which currently could only be bedtime! On weekends when her bedtime is later she twirls around the house peering out the window realizing the sun has indeed gone down and she is still free! Then she starts her weekend bedtime negotiations/begging to get Phoebe or Johnny to let them sleep with her. Which is directly correspondent with the numbers of times Lily annoyed them or told on them that day.

The first few months after we got her she would wake up three times a night to look around the house to see if anyone was up. I knew she wasn't sleeping well and every time she would open her door I would wake up. So I told her she was no longer allowed to get out of her bed until she saw the hall light on every morning. She complained of how she would need to go to the bathroom which I told her she would just have to hold it. Now she sleeps so soundly (and has never once needed to use the bathroom in the night) that it's like waking up JOHNNY or PHOEBE in the mornings....which is misery.

She just completed K-4. We chose to start her in K-4 instead of K-5 so she could have a particular teacher as her first teacher. And Lily did great! She started with only having about 5 months of hearing English under her belt. And she was able to comprehend everything the other 4 year olds did. She is their size and at their brain capacity. And she loved it!!! So we are not rushing her. It seems like this is the perfect place for Lily. She lost 9 years of her life in China so by starting her in K-4 and letting her grow up slowly it will allow her to relive those years. She deserves it and it will help her adjust and hopefully have a healthier childhood.

She doesn't talk about China. Ever. When I mention it you can tell it makes her uncomfortable. I want her to remember China because it was her life until God stepped in and rescued her. I want her to learn gratefulness for what God and others have done for her. I want her to be able to share her story with others one day for God's glory and the healing of others. But I'm afraid her mind has done its best to eat up all those years and never return to them. Which I know is a survival mechanism.

So she will start K-5 as an 11 year old! And possibly could have braces this school year! Lily is special. She doesn't fit into any box. She is unique. I realize this more and more as I see Po grow and relate "normally" and can possibly even understand situations better than Lily at times. We can't treat her normally because Lily's needs are different than the other kids. We can't treat her too different or she will feel like an outcast. We depend on the Holy Spirit to show us what is right for her in every season. And we know that He has given us the best discernment for her life so it helps us not feel insecure about others' opinions of our parenting her.

We are going to Shreveport to have her second surgery next week at Shriners Hospital. She has a condition called coax Vera in her hip and it will need a special plate and pin inserted in it to fix it. Then we are going to have her tested for human growth hormone deficiency since she is still so short. She's almost 11 and if we can do anything to help her grow before puberty then we want to. Although Lily just might be little. And that's ok too.

I'll post more updates when we get to Shriners next week.

Monday, June 11, 2012

snapshots of Lily's life

Lily's earliest photo in the paper of her hometown. All lost or abandoned children must have their photo posted by law for their parents to claim.

my guess: 4

my guess: 6

My guess: 7

8 and a half, Summer 2010

9, February 2011, the night Lily became ours

9, First night home in America!

9, scared to step on the grass, she didn't know what it was :(

9, Summer 2011

10, First ever school photo, September 2011

10, Lily's first ever teacher, Mrs. Lutherbeck

10, Lily's surgery, October 2011

10, Lily meets Pooh at Disney World

10, Spring 2012

10, Lily meets the ocean for the first time ever! Summer 2012

Artificial Twins: our 10 year old children

June 2011

June 2012

picture time

Mexican Po

Cute Lily

Summer Po

Two of Po's favorites: RaRa (as she calls Robert) and Daddy

Po in her ever versatile sleep sack! We have to put it on her inside out with a shirt over it or she gets out of it and throws it out of the crib and takes off her diaper and wakes up at 3 am covered in pee. Yes, i know...gross!