Friday, August 28, 2009

A medical chapter begins....

Today was the beginning of the next chapter in our adoption journey. We went to Iowa City to the pediatric orthopedist’s office to have her hands and leg looked at. For those of you joining in for the first time, Sidney has syndactyly or webbing on one hand between two of her three fingers. On the other hand, she also has three fingers, with the middle finger appearing a bit thicker than the rest. Something I am certain will come in handy when she is an adult.

Today we consulted with a medical student and Dr Dietz. Dr Dietz, we found out, is not only a talented and recognized orthopedist in pediatrics but a genuinely nice person. We were informed we would do something only for the leg today, so she has better mobility. Her left leg is a few centimeters than the other and her leg is physically smaller. When we looked at the file for her special needs information, we saw a photo, but we were not certain. It turns out her limb is smaller. Again, no big deal. She is walking and almost running. X rays were completed, and the doctor advised us Sidney’s leg is missing the fibula or the smaller bone behind the larger bone on her leg.

He let us know that there is no way to figure out exactly why this happened, because it is not typically associated with any syndromes. He gave several options, including lengthening. This is an avenue we do not want to go down, because it is strictly cosmetic and does not have a great success rate. Another option is to shorten the longer leg to slow the rate of growth. Both procedures wait until she is 6 to 8 years old. Reasons for this include, as Dr Dietz advised us, “wrestling the kid.”

We were extremely pleased to be able to talk with a hand surgeon today who was called in by the doctor. She seconded that issues like this are typically not caused by any type of syndrome however as the orthopedist let us know, our genetic appointment will give us more detailed information on causes and information Sidney will need as an adult. They were all amazed had her function with three fingers on both hands. Mom intentionally had her eating Cheerios when they came into the room, so they knew immediately that her function is good.
I am off to enjoy friends and a glass of wine. Thank you Jill. You could not have called at a more opportune time, thank you Kasey for volunteering to drive two women who cannot handle more than one glass of Moscato.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Two shots, one lead test, and many tears later, Sidney completed her first well baby check up. Today’s visit consisted of completing her immunizations and taking a lead test. Her pediatrician was pleased about her immunizations, saying they were almost all current.

Before and after being poked and prodded, Eli and Sidney were troopers completing back to school shopping. We headed to Shoe Carnival where mom made a grand entrance by doing a graceful landing on the slippery floor, holding Sidney and sliding across the tile. My landing should have received a 10 when I landed with one leg tucked under and the other flung out the side. As I clamored to my feet, I quickly looked around to find nobody was looking. My mother and I have a continuous dialog about our klutziness, and today was no exception. High on sugar after two servings of Jello, Eli was best able to capture the moment after supper.

As we scooted around the mall, in a thoroughly mom wet wiped race car cart, Eli and Sidney created their own fun. Eli’s enthusiasm for anything on wheels helped to make the experience fun for Sidney. I was again reminded of how Sidney’s world has gotten so much larger. Not only was she curious about the rain falling from the sky this morning, elevators, clothing, shoes, lights, and basically anything which stimulates her senses did not go by without a “what’s that?”

Again, we will have more information next week after visiting the pediatric orthopedist. Her right hand seems fairly straightforward. Webbing or Syndactlyly is between her two fingers. It simply looks like two fingers sitting side by side. The need for surgery is for function of the three existing fingers on her hand, as well as prevention. If we leave her fingers fused together, they will become deformed into adulthood. We are most interested in the left hand. Her left hand also has three fingers, and the middle finger appears to have different bones inside. From the back it appears a bit crooked.

That being said, it is hard for us to remember she has an anomaly on her hands and foot. She functions developmentally ahead of a 15 ½ month old child. As always, I am humbled by her spirit. Her smile is contagious, and she is finally, literally, finding a place to rest her head.

Monday, August 17, 2009


As I watch Sidney dancing in front of the cartoon Super Y on public television, she continues to embrace the new world around her. Imagine our shocked surprise when she began easily climbing the stairs. Our stairs are suicidal. Shock registered on my face Saturday night as I witnessed Sidney scaling the stairs, looking at me like, “what’s your problem?”

We have ventured outside the house to grandparents and met aunts and uncles, as well as a great uncle and great grandmother. Sidney was especially fond of following Grandpa Bob around the house. This is great, considering her exposure to men is limited. We thought cake and ice cream might be a hit when celebrating my grandma's 91st birthday but did not know to what extent. She loved it.

We will find out more about her caretakers when I develop film this week. I sent a care package to Sidney prior to travel. Included in the care package was a disposable camera. Some parents receive the camera completely empty or do not receive it at all. Obviously, the point of the camera is for a child’s caretakers to photograph the child’s daily routine, friends, and to give adoptive parents some clue about the adopted child’s prior life. We received the camera from the orphanage completely filled.

We continue to battle giardia. We were to complete the first round of antibiotics, get another stool sample, turn it in at Covenant’s lab in Waterloo, and wait for the results. I reminded the nurse that it takes at least 5 days for all of this to transpire. We are certain the parasite has allowed her to gain about 2 pounds since she was 8 months, half of her life. I also reminded her giardia is difficult to get rid of. I was prompted when Sidney finished the last round and began itching again. Unchecked giardia causes hives and a rash. The pediatrician immediately prescribed another round of antibiotics. We will turn in another sample after this round and pray the parasite has cleared.

Next week marks the start of 2nd grade for Eli. We are finishing up last minute shopping. Eli is anxious to see friends after the summer but not thrilled about the prospect of being confined to a classroom again. His spirits perked up substantially when acquiring a new Marvel Comics folder, as well as one with Sasquatch.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Adjusting to a New World

As I sit in a quiet house with Eliab and Sidney asleep upstairs, I cannot help but smile. We have much to be thankful for when considering it has only been a month today since we first met Sidney. Eli is the reason we have seen so much of Sidney’s personality. He thinks of things to do with her, bringing out the joy in childhood. One day Eli wandered up to me asking, “Where is the stapler.” “On the counter I muttered,” obviously occupied with something else. “Where is the colored paper? I am going to make my sister a crown.” This gesture was hilarious as Eli precariously balanced the crown on Sidney’s head, and Sidney tried to figure out what her brother was stuffing on her head.

Though Eli is going through the typical attitudes and issues associated with gaining a sister, including taking his frustrations out on his mother, he has been wonderful with Sidney. It is obvious Sidney has such a love of older children, because she lived with and spent time playing with children. This is very obvious when she allows her brother to fly her like an airplane.

Sidney continues to explore the world around her. Everything is foreign. Tom is back to working his regular schedule. If he has an evening job for our business, we call him at bedtime. Sidney looks at the phone like it is some kind of alien device. Dad’s voice is coming out of the phone, but he is not standing there. She turns the receiver over and over again, looking for him to somehow pop out. I also have Tom as a screensaver on my laptop. She sees the picture and starts talking to the screen saying, “Dada?” Her tone of voice indicates she is waiting for his response from the screen.

Animals are also a new concept. No one is more than our 15 pound cat Ralph. She is slowly learning after her initial terror that she is to give the cat, “nice pets.”
Our adventure continues and Sidney’s world will continue to expand over the coming weeks. We continue to pray for her positive adjustment to our family. We will continue to blog over the coming weeks as Sidney begins to receive medical treatment for her hands. We found out today, she will see a pediatric orthopedist in Iowa City on August 28th. We are on a list for a geneticist in about a month.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Finally got to the bottom of Sidney's bizarre rash. Her stool sample came back positive for Giardia. There are not enough Lysol antibacterial wipes and antibacterial handiwipes to cover the amount of places I have wiped before during and after diaper changes on the hard surface of our kitchen floor.

We are curious about how long she has harbored this parasite. According to the Mayo Clinic's website, hives and a rash are a symptom of rare cases and she has both. We noticed a rash throughout our trip but thought it was the extreme heat causing a rash. After retracing the little bit we have on her health history, we have come to the conclusion she has probably had this for several months.

This explains several factors including her inability to gain weight. She eats like a horse yet weighs only 16 pounds. Her pediatrician immediately noticed she needed to gain weight. We are thankful she was not delayed in development as a result. This is also common according to what we have read.

Luckily, her pediatrician immediately prescribed an antibiotic and we will continue retesting for the next several months to make sure it is out of her system.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sidney's New World

Sidney’s personality is changing on a daily basis as we learn about this pint sized bundle of energy. I am watching what the human spirit can overcome in its truest form. Here are a few things we have witnessed over the last few days……
Despite Sidney’s 3 cm limb difference (about an inch), she can walk independently. We are filled with excitement and FEAR about the prospect of her getting shoes to accommodate the difference in length. This means she will have speed on her side. We will be chasing her!

Green beans are the vilest food I ever had the displeasure of eating. We are feeding Sidney as many fruits and vegetables as possible to make up for the lack of nutrition she received in the orphanage. Much of the food was starch, including rice and fried noodles. We assume this was a cost saving measure. As I watched one bean after another disappear into her mouth , I choked back the acid rising in my stomach and cheered her on as she took a second serving.

Sidney adores her brother, and her brother is learning to adore his sister! Three years of preparation could not prepare him for the dethroning which took place when his sister made her appearance. Factor in Sidney’s age. This is not a baby sitting idly in her mother’s arms. She is active and into everything. I personally love it, and Eli is learning to adapt. He is wonderful. Loves to help his sister in the car seat with a safety check by mom, waits for her to wake up from naps to play, and like any brother, can’t stand sharing his toys with his sister.

Attachment is a huge deal in adoption. Positive signs include eye to eye contact; a child who offers to feed their parent, and allowing a parent to be affectionate. We are experiencing all of this, and luckily, Sidney prefers her mother over anyone else. When visiting the doctor, Eli insisted he also needed to sit in my lap. Given the difference in my children’s sizes one can only imagine our appearance. As Pete and Shorty balanced precariously on my lap (people from Iowa know this greasy spoon, it is the nickname I have been calling them), Sidney reached over to push her brother out of my lap. A “my mommy,” look appeared on her face. This was a very positive sign. Another positive sign is that Sidney had a meltdown tonight and allowed me to comfort her while she laid her head on my shoulder. This is first time she has allowed herself to lay her head on my shoulder for more than a few seconds and to be comforted while I rubbed her back. This was a breakthrough in the adoption world.

Sidney is learning about the world. Prior to the day, we brought her back to the hotel for the first night; she had never ridden in a car or been outside the orphanage. In two weeks, she has ridden in several vehicles, stayed in two hotels, gone on an international and domestic flight traveling for 25 hours straight, learned to ride nicely in a new car seat, had many blood tests done, and learned to function well in an environment, oh so different from the orphanage. This includes going with mom to the store in an over stimulating environment and feeling grass tickle the bottoms of her feet for the first time while she screamed!

I list Sidney’s hands last, because she has adapted so well, it is difficult to tell she is missing two fingers on each hand. We will take her to an orthopedist and geneticist in Iowa City next month. We assume the orthopedist will suggest separating the webbed fingers on her right hand, to give her as much use of her fingers as possible. We are unsure about her left hand. It appears the middle finger might have an extra bone. We will also seek a lift in her shoe for the shorter of the two legs.

Thanks for everyone’s kind thoughts, prayers, and words over the past few weeks. We will continue to keep you updated as we learn more about this amazing kid!