Sunday, May 19, 2013

A year later

It is hard to believe that last Friday marked a year since Addie arrived home. May 6th we celebrated her "Gotcha Day". We have made many great memories as a family. We have also faced many hard days. Addie has come so far this past year. When we got home she was sitting up, but that was it. She quickly learned to roll and scoot around. She soon began to crawl and then she began to pull up on the furniture. In January she took her first steps. Then on Easter weekend something must have clicked because she began walking all over. She is getting better all the time. She is talking extremely well, and she talks all of the time.

She has progressed extremely well, but she has seen her share of adversity. Last summer and fall seemed to be one doctors appointment after another. We are still making the visits, but they have slowed down tremendously. In November she had surgery to repair her tethered spine. That had her on her back for about 2 weeks, but she has made a great recovery and continues to progress. She is still dealing with a few medical issues, but overall she is doing great.

During the past few days and weeks we've had many conversations about what things were like or what we were doing at this time last year. I remember as we were at the airport and waiting to board our first flight. We were so excited about finally going to bring our little girl home. Lyndsay and Landon were excited to see their baby sister. Even in the excitement for me there was also some fear and nervousness. In some ways it was similar to when we were on our way to the hospital for Lyndsay and Landon. There was excitement of seeing our baby and looking forward to the days ahead, but there was fear because I knew nothing about raising kids. Before Lyndsay, I had never changed a diaper. Each time I felt there was so much I didn't know and that in so many ways I was unprepared. 

So in some ways it was similar, but it was very different. We were traveling half way around the world to a place I had never been. It was also different because before it was my own flesh and blood, but not this time. I was so excited to finally hold my little girl. To see her for the first time and tell her I love you. I had no doubt that I loved her and that she was my daughter, but, What if? What if she doesn't like me, what if we never connect, what if she won't let me hold her? What if? What if? And the list goes on and on. I knew that I loved her regardless of whatever would take place, but I was scared of all the things that might go wrong. As we travelled that day, Psalm 139 came to mind. Verse 13 says, "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb." And I began to think of how before Addie was ever born God was knitting her together in the womb. Verse 14-16 says ,  " I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15. My frame was hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them." So even before Addie was formed God knew what her future entailed. In fact before I was formed God had numbered my days and knew that Addie was a part of them. I was reminded that while she was not created in Ann's womb, God had created her for us. Just as He had created us for her. On the one hand this is mind blowing to try to comprehend, but on the other what great joy there is in knowing that God made her to be our daughter. Just as he created Lyndsay and Landon to be our children, he had also created Addie to be our child. 
After seeing God work out so many details to bring us to this point why would I worry. I'm not sure, but I could feel relieved knowing that God was faithful to finish what he started. Does that mean that everything is perfect and we never have problems? Far from it. We are just broken messed up people. I'm still trying to figure out being a good father. But we can rest in the fact that God has numbered our days and knows what the future holds. There is a peace knowing that He is working for our good and for His glory. 

Meeting Addie

Addie was not very sure about us.

A few minutes later and she was fast asleep in the arms of her mommy.

I love this picture of them!

Can you see the resemblance? I think we look a lot alike.


She loved the bath.

Landon was excited to hold Mei Mei!

One of my favorite pictures of them. Right before bedtime on our first night together.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Addie follow up

This past Tuesday marked three weeks since Addie's surgery. Last week we returned to the doctor for a follow up visit. They were pleased with the way her back had healed so far. We are glad to have no more doctor visits until January.
Pre-surgery artwork

We had a slight scare about a week after surgery. When we checked out to leave the hospital the doctor said to call if she was vomiting or running a fever over 101. We had gone a week and she was doing really well. Wednesday she began to vomit and at first we thought maybe she had eaten something that did not settle well. After about the third time we decided to call the doctor. They sent us to the pediatrician to have her checked for a bladder infection. By that night she had quit vomiting and seemed to be feeling better. They put her on a different antibiotic to clear it up. Thankfully that was the only issue we had.
A few hours after surgery

Thanks Lyndsay for my new dog.
We were concerned about how we would keep her laying down for 10 days, but it actually went better than we thought. The first week she felt bad enough that she did not really want to move too much.    

The last few days of laying flat were harder as she began to feel better. We had put her in a wagon so that we could move her from room to room without picking her up. This turned out to help keep her still also since there was very little room to move. 
Worn out from a long day.

After her 10 days of laying flat she was glad to be moving about again. It did take her a few days to fully regain her strength though. The first few days crawling was tough for her. She would crawl a few feet and then lay down. I would say at this point though she is back to where she was before surgery. She is crawling and getting around well. The last few days she has even been attempting to stand without holding on to anything. 
Excited to be going home!
The wagon she spent most of the week in after she came home.

As we think about the last few weeks we are thankful for what God has done. We praise Him for Addie. That even before she was formed in the womb He knew she would be a part of our family. We are thankful that the surgery was a success and that she has healed well. We continue to pray for her bladder to function properly. And that through it all He receives the glory and honor for what he has done in our lives. 

This video is brief glimpse into our journey to bring Addie home. The song is called "This Love" by Mandi Mapes. You can find her album on iTunes. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Update on Addie

I thought this would be the best way to let everyone know how Addie is doing. We had a very long day Tuesday. It began about 4:00 am as we got up and got ready to head to the hospital so we could check in by 5:30 am. Lyndsay and Landon were out of school Tuesday so we came to Birmingham Monday night and spent the night so we would not have to make the drive yesterday morning. After we arrived at the hospital and got checked in we waited to be put in a room to prepare Addie for surgery. About 6:00 am we went back and they took all of her vitals and asked 1,000 questions. Just before 8:00 am someone came and took her back for surgery and we went to the waiting room where our other family members were waiting on us.

The actual surgery did not start until about 8:45 am. Shortly after they started the anesthesiologist came out and said she did great and everything went well in getting her to sleep. Throughout the process we got several calls giving us updates on how things were going. 

About 12:15 pm her neurosurgeon came out to let us know that the surgery was finished. He said he thought the surgery went great. He said they had also done some test on her nerves during surgery and all of the results looked positive. He said Addie would be in recovery for about an hour. This seemed like such a long hour.
Shortly after 1:00pm a nurse told us we could come back and see Addie. We gathered our things and met her in the hallway on the way to her room. It was heartbreaking to see our baby laying there with tears rolling down her face and crying out for her Mama. They said she had been asking and looking for her since she came to. It only took a few moments with one of us on each side holding her hand and she began to calm down. She was still pretty out of it as we made our way to the room. 

When we got to her room it took a little while for the nurses to get her situated. It was hard to watch as they moved her from one bed to the other and her little face winced with pain and tears began to roll down her cheeks again. Once they got her 

settled they let the rest of the family come in and see her. Addie was still groggy, but you could see she was trying to take it all in. She did really well for awhile, but I think they waited too long to give her some pain medicine. Her whole little body tightened and she began to cry out from the pain. It was not just cry of discomfort or whining, but a cry of extreme pain. It was so hard to watch my little girl in pain and be able to do nothing about it. Thankfully the nurse was near and quickly got some medicine to bring her pain under control.

Thankfully the medicine kicked in quickly. She watched everything around for awhile and then she took a well deserved nap. She slept for a couple of hours and then woke up. The rest of the day went pretty well. She would sleep a couple of hours and then wake up to eat and drink something. She would be up for a couple of hours and then be back to napping again.

Overall she was doing really well by the end of the day. After her first round of pain medicine we even saw a few smiles from her. She was able to sleep pretty well through the night except for the occasional interruption  to check her vitals and get more pain medicine.

Today was definitely a better day, but it had a few challenges as well. The neurologist came by this morning and seemed to be encouraged by Addie's progress. He thought her incision was looking good so far. He said he wanted to take her off the morphine and just give her Tylenol and Motrin at alternate times. This way they could see how she handled the pain and be able to know when she was ready to go home. 
We were glad to have some friends, Norm and Danielle, come by to visit. We also appreciated them bringing us lunch. Just before they arrived Addie's was beginning to act more like herself. She was smiling and laughing and acting a lot better. She had a great time playing with them while they were here. 

During surgery they had inserted a catheter and left it overnight. This afternoon they decided to remove it and go back to inserting and removing a catheter several times a day. Ann has been doing this for about 2 weeks at home, but we were very nervous about it now after the surgery. We called the nurse to help because we were not sure how much or how to move Addie. I felt terrible when we lifted her legs and in the sweetest little voice Addie said "Owww." Big tears and crying quickly followed. It hurts me to watch her cringe in pain as we lifted her lower body to remove the diaper and put on a new one. I'm amazed though at how quickly she returns to laughing and playing after it was over. 
This afternoon the neurologist came by and said that everything looked really good and we should be able to leave earlier than expected. This is encouraging, but also a little scary. It will be nice to be home and in our own environment. It will also be difficult because Addie is supposed to lay flat for 10 days and that is almost impossible for a 2 year old. The next couple of days will be fine, but soon she will feel better and want to move around. If you have suggestions on how to keep a 2 year old still, feel free to share those with us. 
I'm amazed at what a fighter our baby girl is. She is so strong. She still has a long road ahead of her, but she is making great progress. 
We are thankful for everyone who has been praying for Addie and for us. We also appreciate everyone that has called, texted, emailed, facebook, and everything else to offer encouragement and let us know you are praying. Also pray for Lyndsay and Landon at home with Pops. They are doing well, but I think they are missing little Addie and Ann pretty bad. At this point there is still a lot of uncertainty about what the future holds for Addie, but we know that our God who brought us together is faithful to sustain us through whatever the future holds. He never promised us it would be easy, only that He would be there. And He is more than enough. 

Please forgive any typos or bad grammar, after 2 long days at the hospital I'm sure there are some mistakes. I'll proof read it again later and fix it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

October 17th 2011

I was leaving work to pick Lyndsay up from dance when Ann called, she was very excited and asked if I had seen the email. When I told her no, she said hang up and look at the email I think she is ours. Words are not adequate to express the feeling I had when I saw this picture.

I read her brief profile and felt this was our little girl. Unlike most, Addie was not matched to us, the email we got was sent to everyone else using our agency that was adopting from China. Ann and I decided to pray about it and call the next day if we still felt like she was ours. We both felt really strongly the next morning, but I was reluctant to get too excited. I did not want to get my hopes up about this beautiful girl only to find out she was not coming home with us. After we told them of our interest they sent us her file and a handful of pictures. 

Much of the information was in Mandarin, some was translated. It is funny now to look at the different pictures and we can see her little personality being expressed. We were told that other families were interested and each had until Friday to let them know they wanted to continue pursuing her. Friday we heard from them and only two others were still interested. They said they would let us know Wednesday what the committee decided. It seemed like the longest 5 days. Wednesday came and went and we never heard. We knew God was in control, he would bring us the daughter he had created for our family. But at the same time we were anxious to hear something. The next day they called to tell us that if we wanted to continue Addie was ours. It was so exciting telling the kids that we would be bringing Addie home.

The next few months were filled with a lot of what the last 9 months had been. We prayed and waited for things to happen. Each step bringing us closer to the day we could bring our baby girl home. Today, a year later, we are brought joy each day by the angel they described as "a girl with a small face." I think back to the months before we saw her beautiful face and prayed for God to work things out to bring our daughter home and can see how along the way God was working things for our good and to His glory. The process of bringing Addie home has given me a greater faith, and also a better realization of the relationship God desires with us. It has been a realization that the moment He adopts us is not the end, but just the beginning of our relationship. He does not just desire to make us His, He desires to have a relationship with us. I longed and waited for the day to bring Addie into our family. Now that she is here we share the love and joy of a family each day growing closer in our relationship. I'm thankful for this wonderful gift that God brought our family. I'm also thankful for a heavenly Father who desires not only to save us, but to have a relationship with us.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


It is hard to believe that it has been over four months since we arrived home with Addie. Several times Ann and I have talked about how quickly and easily Addie has transitioned into our family. It is fills my heart with joy to see all three kids together playing. We are thankful to God for the way he has brought our family together. We realize it has been a while since we updated the blog so we thought we would try to briefly tell about the last three months. 
Lyndsay and Addie at Landon's awards day
After we got home it took several weeks for all of us to get back sleeping and functioning on a normal schedule. We got back just in time for Lyndsay and Landon to finish their last week of school. Both enjoyed seeing their friends and telling them about our trip. And they were both very excited to show off their new sister. When the week was over though I think they were glad to be able to sleep in. 
Landon showing his class the things he got in China

Lyndsay's backbend
We thought with school being out things would slow down, but it didn't. A couple of weeks after school was out Lyndsay had her dance recital. Lyndsay loves dance and she continues to get better all the time. She did a fantastic job at her recital.  
 A week later she had a minor surgery on her knee. The doctor said it would be sore, but she could dance the same afternoon. There was no way she could have danced that night. She was in a lot of pain for a couple of days, and it took about a week or so for her to really get up and going. I think the best thing for her was the two weeks she spent at camp. It really forced her to be more active and to exercise her leg. 

Lyndsay and Landon spent the first two weeks of July at Winshape Camp at Berry College. They both had a blast. Lyndsay loved the rock climbing and horseback riding. She also learned to cook and how to make pottery. Landon enjoyed the soccer and flag football. Landon also learned to cook and won the golden spoon in his group. Both enjoyed the swimming and of course the sock war. It is an all around great camp experience. The best part is that as they are making new friends and enjoying the camp experience they are also helping them to deepen their faith and have a closer relationship with Christ.
Lyndsay's cabin mates at camp

Sock War
Now both have started back to school. So far they are both off to a good start. Landon was disappointed to find out he did not have the same teacher as last year. It only took one day to decide he liked his new teacher. Lyndsay is enjoying school and her new teachers also. This is the first year Lyndsay will have exams and she is working hard to have straight A's and not miss any days so that she can exempt them.

Addie has made amazing progress since we have been home. She was able to sit up, but was not very mobile. If she fell over she could not sit back up. She quickly learned to roll and would roll from one side of the room to the other. She then learned to scoot around on her belly. She then began to scoot around while sitting up on her bottom. It is pretty funny to watch this, and she has gotten very quick. She has also learned to crawl, but usually prefers to scoot on her bottom. On Father's Day she pulled herself up for the first time. She has started taking a few steps while holding on to something, but still has not walked on her own. She still has a ways to go, but she has come so far in a very short time. She has picked up a couple of dozen words that she uses pretty regular and she will often try to repeat whatever is said. She loves music. Her two favorite songs for a while were Jesus Loves Me and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Lately her favorite has been Happy Birthday. It is so precious to hear her just begin singing.

Addie has had her own busy summer. In about two months she made over a dozen trips to the doctor. She has been to her pediatrician, the adoption clinic in Birmingham, a cardiologist, neurologist, an eye doctor, and had an MRI that resulted in a trip to the ER that about scared us to death. They had found what they thought was blood and water on her brain. After a couple of hours they sent us home and said the doctor would call tomorrow. The doctor did not call the next day or the next. He called about a week later to say they had overreacted at the MRI and while she did have some blood and water on her brain it was only minimal and not enough to worry about. Thanks for letting us know so quickly and for scaring us to death. We have also learned she is on the lower end of height and weight for her age, which was not a surprise. 

The reason for so many of Addie's appointments is that she has a form of spina bifida. Recently we were back in Birmingham for a couple of tests and a follow up with the neurologist. She was scheduled for a renal ultrasound and then a urodynamics test. The ultrasound showed that she had abnormal kidneys which could cause a few problems. They would be able to confirm that with the urodynamics test, but Addie has a bladder infection so they could not do the test. That has been rescheduled for late October. One of the things we will learn from this test is whether or not she will be able to potty train. 

After the test we left Children's Hospital and drove across town to Children's South for our neuro appointment. The doctor was hoping to have the results of the test today before we moved forward.  The main purpose of the visit was to schedule surgery for her tethered cord. The doctor says this is fairly common in children with spina bifida. Since we had the test rescheduled we went ahead and planned surgery for the beginning of November. We expect her to be in the hospital for 4 days or so after the surgery. Then several weeks of recovery here at home. So on one hand Addie is doing extremely well and has made tremendous progress since being home, but on the other she has a long road ahead of her. 

So as we move ahead we continue to trust God who has brought us to this point. We have been amazed as we watched Him work at various times along the way of this process and now as we look ahead we want to continue to focus on Him. Thanks for reading and following our story. We will try to keep you up to date on how things are progressing. Most of all thanks for your prayers.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sweet Home Alabama

"Sweet home Alabama where the skies are so blue, Sweet Home Alabama I'm coming home to you..."
In the last 2 weeks Addie has travelled to 6 cities on 3 flights and a train covering over 10,000 miles and is finally home. It's hard to believe we have been together for 2 weeks now. It has been an amazing journey for all of us. We are all trying to adjust to the long flights and the time change. Addie continues to do well. The 23 hours in airports and airplanes on top of the 13 hour time difference has taken its toll on her though. She is waking up about 2:30 am and is ready to go, then she wants to sleep during the day. I think it will just take a little time for her to adjust. The time change has been hard on all of us. Last night when she woke up Ann and I were already awake. Since we were all up we thought it was a good time to have some apple pie, thats what you are supposed to do when your baby wakes up, right. My mom would be glad to know Addie loved her pie. After we were done Addie and I moved to the couch where we fell asleep about 3:30 and then woke up about 5:30 when Lyndsay and Landon came down. Both said they had already been up for a while. Landon said he had come down, but went back to his room when he saw me and Addie asleep.
We are thankful to all of are friends who prayed for us as we travelled to bring Addie home. We have seen the hand of God at work each step of the way. Even though this is the end of this chapter of bringing Addie home. It is only the beginning of another as we begin our life together as a family. Thanks to my sister Amanda who updated the blog for us while we were gone. We emailed the pictures and information back to her and she posted it for us.  Here are a few more pictures and the video of Addie's gotcha day.

Dragon Boat Cruise

Landon and his new friend Joshua.

Lyndsay and Mckenna

Addie and JoJo

JoJo fixing Lyndsay's hair

JoJo quickly had an audience

Addie's first swim

Our crazy ride down the mountain on a golf cart!

There are even Alabama fans in China.